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‘The Crown’ Producers Talk Seasons 3 and 4 and Olivia Colman’s Reign as the Queen

Confirming two more seasons of Netflix hit “The Crown,” creator Peter Morgan says he is thick into the writing process for both seasons, which will be shot one after the other. Season 3 will span the years 1964 to 1976 and usher in Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, replacing Claire Foy.

“We’re doing them back-to-back. I’m writing them all at the moment,” Morgan said Monday evening at a BAFTA Masterclass, held in a venue just yards from Buckingham Palace. “We’ve got Olivia, which is fantastic, and now we’re just embarking on the process of casting.”

Finding new actors to portray recurring characters is a considerable challenge, given that the whole roster of on-screen talent will change for the next two seasons. “It’s hard to recast,” said Suzanne Mackie, the series’ executive producer, adding that the producers were committed to having a new actor for every character for the next two seasons, irrespective of their on-screen age. “It’s all or nothing. Everyone has to change.”

Helena Bonham Carter is expected to replace Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. Paul Bettany was rumored to be close to replacing Matt Smith as Prince Phillip, but is reportedly now out of the running.

Colman is confirmed as the new Queen Elizabeth, and surprised Morgan by accepting the role immediately. “I think we all felt Olivia had something that corresponded [to what we wanted], that ability to be both plain and dazzling, and to be both knowable and unknowable,” Morgan said. “And then we rang her up, and she said yes on the phone.”

Morgan, who has numerous films and movies to his credit, said that Netflix had changed the script for TV drama. The streaming service estimates that the average viewer watches two-and-a-half episodes of “The Crown” at a time. “It makes you look at the way a season might flow in a different way,” Morgan said. “I’m finding I’m thinking differently to how I would have done in a pre-Netflix, pre-streaming age.”

He added that talk of “The Crown” as one of the most expensive series ever made is overblown. “There’s no way any of us are going to plead hardship, but none of the rumors of our budget are true,” he said. “It’s perfectly healthy, but there are many, many television programs with larger budgets.”

Asked at what point the story might come to an end, Morgan demurred at giving an answer, but director Ben Caron offered his facetious take: “As soon as Donald Trump walks into Buckingham Palace.”

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