Elizabeth Debicki, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton open up about joining creator Peter Morgan's Netflix series.
As anticipation for The Crown’s return continues to build, Netflix shared official new images of the incoming actors, who have been tasked with taking over the key roles on creator Peter Morgan’s historical drama about the royals for seasons 5 and 6. Per tradition of the series, a new cast is brought in every two installments to reflect the age and growth of Queen Elizabeth II and her family, with Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Elizabeth Debicki leading the latest all-star ensemble.
With the last season starring Olivia Colman and others ending in 1990, season 5 is expected to pick up shortly after as it explores the end of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s marriage while Queen Elizabeth navigates a new era of attention surrounding the palace that coincides with the birth of the 24/7 news cycle that closely covered every family scandal at the time.
“That's the amazing thing about playing these people at this time, because in the journey of The Crown so far out of all the seasons, this is the most visual content we have of the royal family,” Debicki tells Netflix’s Tudum. “In the ‘90s everything had started to be filmed and also it was the birth of the 24-hour news cycle so there's just this incredible amount of content that we have access to.”
Here’s a closer look at Debicki and her co-stars as they embody a modern era of the royal family on season 5 of The Crown:
Elizabeth Debicki as Diana, Princess of Wales
“Diana was the most photographed person in the world at that time,” Debicki says. “As an actor you open the portal and this huge tsunami of information comes at you. I happily swam around in it.”
Dominic West as Charles, Prince of Wales and Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker-Bowles
“I think people understand, because the cast has changed every two seasons, that this is not an imitation,” West says. “This is an evoking of a character. That's really where the show lives: in the imagined conversations of their private life, which is something that no one knows. I think that's what it gets a lot of criticism for. How can you know what they talk about in their private lives? The obvious answer is we don't, but we have an incredible writer, a dramatist, who imagines based on exhaustive research, and that's really part of the fascination of the show.”
“One of the great things about The Crown is we get to see those sort of imagined intimate moments, which maybe give us a better perspective on someone that we've judged,” Williams shares. “Charles and Camilla seem to have a very healthy sense of humor about what at times must be an unbearable predicament. And that is the thing that I most want to show.”
Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II and Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
“What has been nice, and I hope I don't prove them wrong, is people saying, ‘I'm really looking forward to seeing her as the queen,’’ Staunton says. “So, let's just hope that works out for them because I've done it. Nothing I can do about it now!”
“Doing this and looking into Philip's background and finding out what made him the man he was, that was the interest to me,” Pryce adds. “I'm more interested in their life, their emotional life, which is what The Crown explores.”
Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret
“I had a lot of documentaries to watch, pictures, loads to read, but finally the scripts arrived, and that's it. All the books I read have different people's versions of events,” Manville shares. “So, you've got to let it go in and just sink in, but then you almost forget about it because finally the scripts come and that's what you work with.”
Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne
“Anne’s an extraordinary character,” Harrison says. “She's not there to make people feel better about themselves, but she is superb at her job and is a proper feminist. She's someone we can really look up to and I think she has no sense of entitlement.”
Jonny Lee Miller as Prime Minister John Major
“I think Jonny Lee Miller is an absolute triumph in the role and a real surprise,” Morgan says of the actor.
Slated to premiere on Nov. 9, season 5 of The Crown also stars Salim Daw as Mohamed Al Fayed and Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed as well as West’s 13-year-old son, Senan West, sharing a young Prince William duties with Timothee Sambor. Season 6, meanwhile, will deal with Diana’s tragic death and the fallout that followed.