The Crown director comments on Helen Mirren casting rumours, admits they considered retaining Claire Foy after season 1 success
Exclusive: Director Ben Caron comments on the possibility of Helen Mirren stepping in to play The Queen in future seasons of Netflix’s The Crown, and admits they considered retaining Claire Foy after season one’s success.Updated: Oct 26, 2019, 13:09 IST
Season three of The Crown hasn’t premiered yet, but conversations about who will replace actor Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in seasons five and six are already underway. The popular Netflix period drama will follow an ambitious strategy, which will see the central cast being replaced every two seasons.
The first couple of seasons catapulted actors Claire Foy and Vanessa Kirby to massive success. Foy won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance, and subsequently signed major Hollywood films such as First Man and The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Kirby, who played Elizabeth’s overshadowed sister Margaret, landed a plum part in Mission: Impossible - Fallout and also appeared in the recent Fast & Furious spin-off, Hobbs & Shaw.Watch the Crown season three trailer here
“Certainly, after season one and the huge success, we tormented ourselves about whether we should keep Claire and Vanessa and Matt (Smith, who played Prince Philip),” director Benjamin Caron, who has been with the show since its inception, and has directed the opening few episodes of season three, told Hindustan Times over the phone.
While most productions would normally use prosthetic makeup to age characters, or even digital technology if they could afford it, Caron said that it was always part of the plan for The Crown to have a revolving cast. “This was the ambition right from day one, and just because of the success, that shouldn’t change that original concept,” he said. “With prosthetics,” he noted, “it wouldn’t have looked truthful.” The team ‘wanted actors to have had those life experiences’ that would translate to an older cast of characters, but they were aware that the plan could possibly backfire. “The idea of starting again with a new cast,” Caron said, “could be a moment of brilliance, or an act of self harm.”
Oscar-winner Olivia Colman was chosen from ‘a list of one’ to play The Queen in seasons three and four. Caron said that she put her own spin on the character, and that is just how he would have wanted it. “It would have been a disaster if Olivia Colman was trying to be Claire Foy. You have to make these parts your own,” he said.
But with a grand six-season plan already in motion, Caron said that ‘there are a lot of conversations going on about’ who will replace Colman in future seasons. Giddy fans have speculated if Helen Mirren could perhaps return to play the character that famously won the legendary actor her only Oscar. And after all, The Queen was also written by The Crown creator Peter Morgan, who has admitted that Mirren ‘loves the show’. Caron understandably couldn’t ‘possibly say’ if Mirren is being considered for the part, but he said that he would be ‘surprised’ if she’d want to come back. Mirren, for her part, had told TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, “I don’t think so...” when asked the same question.
Season three of The Crown returns on November 17, and will span the years 1964-77, ending just before Margaret Thatcher’s election as Prime Minister. Besides Colman, new cast members include Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.