Claire Foy on Playing Rage in ‘Women Talking,’ Wanting To Do a Rom-Com and Season 5 of ‘The Crown’

Claire Foy photographed for Variety in November, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
Dan Doperalski for Variety

First things first: Claire Foy has seen Season 5 of “The Crown.” The actor, who won two Emmy Awards for originating the role of Queen Elizabeth II in the first two seasons of the Netflix series, has since seen her role pass on to Olivia Colman and now, Imelda Staunton, as the show continues to cover the monarch’s later reign. And though Foy’s currently in Los Angeles to promote her new movie, “Women Talking,” she was able to watch a couple episodes on the plane on the way over, as she revealed to Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast.

Foy says it’s not strange to see other actors continuing on with the role. “It’s really not that weird,” she says, adding she’s met both Colman and Staunton in person and can now just enjoy the show as a fan. “I’m really pleased I actually get to watch it.”

In fact, when she was first told Colman was offered the role for Seasons 3 and 4, Foy says she was thrilled. “I texted her saying, ‘You have to do it!’” Foy recalls. “It was purely selfish. It made me feel such good things for my ego.”

While “The Crown” helped make Foy a household name, her latest film is earning the actor serious Oscar buzz. Writer-director Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Miriam Towes’ 2018 novel “Women Talking” stars an impressive cast that includes Rooney Mara, Jessie Buckley and Frances McDormand.

The story is set in an isolated religious colony where the women learn that several men in the community have been drugging and raping them for years, attributing their injuries to demons. Foy plays Salome, a fiercely protective mother who discovers the truth when she catches one of the men with her infant daughter and attacks him with a scythe. The men leave the community for two days, during which time the women are told they are to forgive them. Instead, the women gather in the barn to discuss their options, their faith and their future. Salome’s red-hot fury is in stark contrast to her sister Ona (Mara), who remains idealistic and hopeful, even after finding herself pregnant as a result of her rape.

Claire Foy photographed for Variety in November, 2022 in Los Angeles, California Dan Doperalski for Variety

“I would have played any part that she’d given me,” Foy says, but she let Polley know she was gravitating toward Salome. “I had just such an affinity to her as a person. And her rage but also her love of her family – her daughter, son and the community that she’s from – and her faith as well.” And while her anger is palpable, it doesn’t define her; Salome is fiercely loyal and protective. When her daughter falls ill, Salome walks two days into town to fetch medicine – something that is forbidden in the community.

“Women Talking” has already won raves on the festival circuit and while it doesn’t shy away from tough issues, Foy believes it’s ultimately a hopeful story. “You don’t want people to see a movie because they think it’s ‘worthy,’” she notes. “That’s not going to get you running to the cinema, is it?”

Foy also adds that in addition to hopeful, the movie is “sometimes very, very funny.” The actor says she normally wouldn’t worry about how people are receiving it, as it’s out of her hands. “I’ve done things where I’ve thought they would be amazing, and [it didn’t,] and vice-versa. So I can’t be wasting my time with that,” she says. “But I do feel with this film, more than anything I’ve ever done… I feel like the people who don’t want to see it should see it. I think that it’s a film that has the ability to challenge people’s perception.”

While Foy is most associated with her dramatic work, she’s also proven adept at comedy, having hosted “Saturday Night Live” to positive reviews. And she loves a good rom-com, though she doubts anyone would cast her in one. She cites the Julia Roberts-George Clooney “Ticket to Paradise” as a movie she recently saw and enjoyed, particularly the performances. “To be Julia Roberts, to have that life force… to make people feel happy would be great,” she notes before adding with a laugh, “But I don’t think I’m here for that.”

Also on this episode of Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast, we talk with Gabrielle Union, who was recently nominated for Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards thanks to her work in Elegance Bratton’s film “The Inspection.” She discusses her advocacy work for LGBTQ rights, what’s next for her and even weighs on some of the media obsessions including “The Slap” at last year’s Oscars ceremony.

In addition, the roundtable discusses the latest shake-up at Disney that sees the return of Bob Iger as CEO and the ousting of Bob Chapek after a tumultuous year of scrutiny.

Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast, produced by Michael Schneider, who also co-hosts with Clayton Davis, is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post weekly.