10:31am PT by Michael O'Connell
Gillian Anderson Says She Turned Down Role on 'Downton Abbey'
Downton Abbey could have been a bit different.
The British series, which has been a stateside success on PBS, apparently wanted to cast Gillian Anderson in one of its lead roles
The 43-year-old X-Files actress, next appearing on PBS' Masterpiece Classic update of Great Expectations, told TV Guide Magazine that she was originally approached to star on the Emmy-winning series.
STORY: 'Downton Abbey' Creator Julian Fellowes Writing Adaptation of 'Gypsy'
"Hopefully people will embrace it with the same love that flowed toward Downton Abbey," Anderson said of her upcoming period piece. "I was actually offered a part in Downton."
She later admitted the role was Elizabeth McGovern's Cora Crawley.
Anderson is no stranger to PBS' Masterpiece or Dickensian television -- she starred in 2005's Bleak House mini -- but her participation would have presented a small issue for Downton Abbey: she's a bit young to play the matriarch.
McGovern is seven years her senior. It's not a lot, but it makes quite a difference considering Anderson is just 13 years older than Downton's oldest daughter Mary (Michelle Dockery). Still, this is a woman who's playing the the withered spinster Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, a character Dickens' placed in her mid-50s.
Downton Abbey is currently filming its third season. It will debut later this year in Britain, with a stateside premiere expected for early 2013.