01/13/2013 at 04:00 PM EST
Everyone has a past ... even the actors on Downton Abbey
Long before they were cast as members of the aristocratic Crawley family
, Dame Maggie Smith and Elizabeth McGovern
appeared in a variety of films, and Snakkle.com
has the photos to prove it.
As Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham
, Smith reigns over her costars, often offering some comic relief in the form of barbs. But prior to Downton
and long before her iconic roles in Sister Act
and the Harry Potter
films, Smith was a fresh-faced girl engulfed in her studies.
(Smith, 78, won a Golden Globe
Sunday night and is nominate ford a SAG Award for her role on Downton
After McGovern made her film debut in the Robert Redford directed Ordinary People
, she went on to earn an Oscar nomination for her role in Ragtime
. She later appeared in a variety of films and television shows, but it was when McGovern learned that Downton
creator Julian Fellowes was looking to cast Lady Cora Crawley that she kicked into high gear.
McGovern, 51, told the Daily Mail
that she wrote Fellowes saying, "I'm on my knees – I really want to play this part!"
See more flashback photos of the Downton Abbey