In the Variety Streaming Room, deputy awards and features editor Jenelle Riley brought up the particularly buzzy nature of the latest season of “The Crown,” which released last November, and asked why the fourth season captivated viewers so much.
Gillian Anderson, who plays Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, had a simple explanation: “Because we’re so good.”
In actuality, Anderson reasons it’s because the season’s focus is much closer to the present and many people are still moved by their memories of the time period, which highlights Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s relationship, backgrounded by Thatcher’s rule. She also credits “The Crown” creator and writer Peter Morgan with “the infusion of youth” across the series.
“The idea that there are these fantastic young actors to balance out all that curmudgeonly stuff adds such life and light,” Anderson said. “And also, not to mention potentially even brings in a whole other demographic.”
The affairs of the royal family have long been under the public eye, but arguably no story is more renowned than that of Charles’ and Diana’s ill-fated relationship. This presented Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor with a challenge.
“For us, the kind of the big achievement with the story was can we make people— people who know exactly what happens with Charles and Diana— can we make them believe even for a moment that it actually could work out,” O’Connor explained.
For Corrin, scenes depicting Diana’s struggle with bulimia were particularly tough. She knew it was an important part of the story that needed to be depicted with proper sensitivity.
“I don’t think I prepared myself mentally for what it is really to put yourself in that position, when you’re doing that. Because yeah, it’s a bit harrowing to do,” Corrin said. “I think those scenes that you find the most challenging tend to be the most rewarding in retrospect.”
Anderson said she was challenged by the audience scenes, in which Thatcher has formal meetings with Queen Elizabeth, played by Olivia Colman. Aside from figuring out how to bring something new to each scene, Anderson had a more looming problem.
“It’s impossible to be intimidated by Olivia Colman,” Anderson said. “She immediately drops her guard, which drops your guard. And so, my biggest concern was that I’d have been working really, really hard for a really long time and I’d get there and I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face.”