Imelda Staunton, who will take on the role of Queen Elizabeth II from season 5 of Netflix show “The Crown,” has discussed the “extra challenge” she faces portraying a monarch that the viewing public is more familiar with, compared to past players of the role.
Speaking to presenter Emma Barnett on the 75th anniversary of BBC radio show “Woman’s Hour” on Monday, Staunton said: “I think my sort of extra challenge, as if I needed it, is that I’m now doing the Queen that we’re a little more familiar with. With Claire Foy, it was almost history and now I’m playing one that people could say ‘she doesn’t do that,’ ‘she’s not like that,’ and that’s my personal bête noire.”
Staunton also waded into the debate around a fictional disclaimer for the show in response to Barnett’s question about whether there should be a warning at the beginning of the program clarifying that these are imagined events based on real historical occurrences.
“I think that is up to producers and directors,” Staunton responded. “This isn’t verbatim; this isn’t taken from diaries. You’ve got to use your imagination, and I’d like to allow the audience a bit of intelligence. You can’t know that’s what Margaret and Elizabeth were talking about.”
In December, U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden demanded that Netflix add a disclaimer to the show stating that it is a work of fiction. Netflix declined, saying: “We have always presented ‘The Crown’ as a drama and we have every confidence our members understand it’s a work of fiction that’s broadly based on historical events. As a result we have no plans, and see no need, to add a disclaimer.”
Staunton also spoke about her experience on Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads” (pictured), which was filmed for broadcast on the BBC in June 2020 and subsequently performed live at London’s Bridge theater over September and October.
“There was a socially distanced audience of 250 people there,” said Staunton. “And what struck me was people’s delight in just being in a place together safely. But reacting. [I was thinking] we’ve done it on the telly, we don’t need to do it in the theater. But my God was I wrong. The audience was just so grateful and appreciative, and just sort of wallowing, if you like, in each other’s company.”