There are twelve hours left for season 5 of ‘The Crown’ to land on Netflix, the long-awaited new installment of the biopic about the late queen of Elizabeth II of England and the royal family. Some episodes whose main novelty is the arrival of a new cast which, in fact, is in the middle of filming the final season.
At Espinof we have been able to attend the global press conference organized with part of this renewed cast: Imelda Staunton as Elizabeth II, Jonathan Price like prince philip Lesley Manville Like Princess Margaret Dominic West like prince charles elizabeth debicki like Princess Diana and Johnny Lee Miller like John Major.
A press conference that has caught the actors in the middle of filming: “It’s a week of work for me, I record in the morning”, Staunton clarifies in a setting that resembles that of the official poster for this new season. While, the rest of the cast seemed to agree that they haven’t had a chance to watch the season yet. Some due to technical problems, as Debicki acknowledged (“my link stopped working. Access denied.”).
Arriving new to an ongoing series
Anecdotes aside, the cast took stock of what was it like to be the third generation of the series. Being the new ones when the team has already traveled a long way. In Staunton’s words:
“They have already done four seasons. So we showed up and everyone knew what they were doing. And that is very nice. Somehow we are riding the wave of their success. She was making a scene yesterday and I can’t tell you the details by giving me breakfast, absolutely extraordinary. And in all the departments that “that’s fine, they won’t see it”… nobody does that. It has to be at the highest level. And come on, that’s part of it. And so Peter Morgan investigates the emotional part, that’s another area. But all the costumes, costumes, makeup… it’s all top notch… and we want to live up to it and do it justice.”
Something that clarifies, for her part, Lesley Manville:
«Because you start on your own, you have to create a character and the witness that they pass. You do it all by yourself. But then the three or four months before you start shooting you have all these layers that come together with these brilliant departments. For me, I was able to start being Margarita when I started working with hair and makeup and wardrobe. Then she became one. That and the voice, the vocal training.”
In addition, Pryce acknowledges that the trick has been that the cast is new, so there is a certain camaraderie:
“It helps that we are all new. So we’re all doing it together. I think it would be really difficult if you were the only one making it to a veteran series, her the same old queen and me the new Prince Philip. But we had that feeling of mutual support from each other.”
A season that comes with controversy
This is the most controversial season before it even premiered, with several voices against that have been raised for the alleged sensationalism that may be in Peter Morgan’s script when dealing with what is probably the most tumultuous decade of the royal family. In Staunton’s words:
“I jump in, but I think in a way I’m lucky because we’re looking at their lives when they were very difficult. And as an actor, you have a lot more to do and so it’s extremely satisfying. And dramatic. And this is drama. And Peter writes a great drama and bases it around real events and real people, but he gives them heart and brains and all that. And for an actor the difficult… the dramatic is not being nice and easy, it’s dramatic when things start to go wrong and when those people deal with those difficulties and he investigates all this and we can take that trip.
Regarding the events of the season, Manville give the key that the characters are already developing and living their own lives when they face them:
“The thing about these events, what can happen in The Crown, is that you can kind of ignore the actual events. It’s more about what these people feel and think. When the public sees a real event you don’t know that you have to imagine how they feel at this moment. And what’s great about our scripts is that you can put the spotlight on what any of these characters feel about it, and when they go to these events, with their own stories behind them, their own lives tick-tock underneath. It’s great to be able to tell these really private and personal stories about these people and humanize them in some way.”
From the producer they have been influencing long and hard about the research process and painstaking recreation of everything that surrounds the British royal family. In several departments: so much voice, gestures… and everything that happens. Dominic West assures:
“Plus there’s a lot of backup support, you have this amazing, huge research department that has every video interview, every question you ever wanted to ask about your character or about the royal family. It’s a huge source that you can only learn from and it’s really fun.”
West, as you know, plays Carlos and hopes that we can get to see a new face of the now king:
“He’s one of the most scrutinized lives in the world, so it’s hard to know what people think of him. This period covers a time when he had, well not a bad press but there was a divorce and there are always two sides to a divorce. I assume the viewers saw, heard one or the other and I hope there is some perspective and everyone gets a fair view. It’s part of the reason for doing it and obviously I love the guy and I’ve never heard him as good as Johnny says about you have to start falling in love with the character and you inevitably side with them and give them the benefit of the doubt and I hope that happens when people see Carlos in this.»
Elizabeth Debicki is also nervous about the responsibility of embodying Lady Di:
“I think it’s fair to say we’re all nervous. It seemed like a huge responsibility. But as we were saying we are supported by this network of people who understand the pressure and that we can do the best we can. It was a huge challenge. I think it’s an interesting process for me and it took me some time to understand it. You’re bringing your interpretation to Peter’s interpretation of this person. But then there are these people watching the series with dedication and memory and a sense of ownership of these characters in a certain way, not only of the people who have played them before but also of their memory and their history. You have to leave some space for that and it’s kind of a dance between those things. It is a beautiful process but also very challenging. And very rewarding because we work with each other and do these wonderful scenes.
And there is no way out. No. We’re still on it. We’re still working on this. I think it’s like being under the waves and we’re still swimming. Maybe I could answer that in six months and I don’t know how your heart will be. I don’t think terribly.”
To do his job, he also recognized that the enormous material was very useful, especially the non-broadcast, the “raw” footage:
“It is very deep. For me those little clips of footage never made it to the news so there’s no voice over. There is no schedule. It’s raw footage of people. And often for me, the actress seeing how to get into the character, it was these little moments that are hard to explain but like how does someone open the door, why do they do that with the body, the interactions, the body language, it was fascinating. And we also had access to all these trainers that we’ve talked about. A lot of playing these characters is technically challenging and satisfying because we have a dialect, we have dialect coaches, movement coaches.”
A reminder of the 90s
Jonathan Pryce, on the other hand, assured that this season “it’s a great reminder of what we did in the 90s” while also acknowledging that playing Prince Philip has reinforced his feelings to the British royal family:
“Have you changed them? No. It’s reinforced my feelings about them, I guess. Looking at Prince Philip has made me more aware of the kind of man he was behind the headlines. I mean, he spent his whole life getting bad press, as a grumpy, short-tempered person who just said the wrong things, usually in the colonies. And knowing more about the man behind it all has changed my view of him. Essentially, yes.”
The season arrives furthermore, just a few months after the death of Elizabeth IIan event that has shown that, above all, he was someone to follow and Pryce hopes that this new season will comfort viewers:
“I think it will affect the perception of what we do, but you have to trust that the numbers will grow even more. When the queen died, the viewing numbers were up 500% from previous seasons of TC and I think people will get some comfort from seeing her again.
I think it’s a reflection of where society is at this time of lack of trust and faith in our politicians. The same thing that happened with Diana’s death when people said “you’re not going to do it, we’re going to do it” and they came out in large numbers. I think seeing the crowd lining up for the queen was saying that this is the type of person we want to follow and lead our country. She not the one who is gone now? I don’t remember her name, she was there for a week? »