Few could have predicted just how popular the historical drama The Crown and it’s cast would be. Released by Netflix in 2016, the it follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and follows a wide cast of characters, which the actors changing every two years as audiences watch the royal family through time.
The first two seasons have actress Claire Foy as the powerful Queen Elizabeth II, alongside her husband Prince Philip who was played by Matt Smith. The actress Vanessa Kirby portrayed a young Princess Margaret.
For the third and fourth seasons, Olivia Colman takes over as the Queen, Tobias Menzies plays Prince Philip, and the stunning Helena Bonham Carter portrays Princess Margaret. Other cast members include Charles, Prince of Wales, played by Josh O’Connor, Diana the Princess of Wales, played by Emma Corrin, and Margaret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson.
For the last two seasons, Imelda Staunton plays the Queen. Jonathan Pryce plays Prince Philip and Lesley Manville plays Princess Margaret. Prince Charles is played by Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki plays the modern-day Princess Diana.
The Crown has been praised for its acting, directing, writing, cinematography, and production values, and has received many awards and nominations. Here, 9 surprising behind the scenes facts about The Crown cast.
1. The actress who played Diana was afraid to play the role
The actress Emma Corrin beat out many other hopefuls in portraying a young Princess Diana, but she tells Glass magazine that the pressure was overwhelming. Once she landed the part, she was almost afraid to actually play it. She said, “I needed to shut off all the noise that was saying, ‘this is huge. It’s her, how are you going to do this? What will people think?’ It was terrifying and it’s not conducive to good work.”
2. The show was supposed to end with Diana’s death
When the series first launched, it was assumed it was going to end with the death of Princess Diana. In 2020, Suzanne Mackie, an executive producer of the drama, told Press Association that, “To be honest, whatever the life of The Crown is after where we are now, I doubt we’ll ever go as far into the present day.”
Mackie also wasn’t sure if the show would even last a full six seasons, she feared there wouldn’t be strong interest. She reflected in a recent Netflix interview, “I remember these conversations 10 years ago, when we first sat around the table talking about The Crown, and the ambition for telling the story over six seasons, 60 episodes. Whether we would want to continue, like we hoped and assumed we would, but you never know.” Nobody, not even Mackie, could imagine the success of the show.
3. Diana’s bulimia was not exaggerated
One of the reasons The Crown cast felt so realistic, was the fact that the writers did not shy away from difficult topics, like Princess Diana’s bulimia.
“It just struck me that to not represent it would be to deny the former Princess of Wales some of the true complexity of her character,” Peter Morgan, the Oscar-, Emmy- and Tony-nominated screenwriter and creator of The Crown told Vanity Fair. “Her own suffering made her have compassion for other people. And it was the compassion she showed for other people that was what made everyone love her. Everyone has vulnerabilities and frailties. And she wore hers on her sleeve—which, of course, is the opposite of royalty.”
Showing her suffering, made the character that much more relatable.
4. Bradley Cooper and Alec Baldwin sent fan mail to the cast
Josh O’Connor who played Prince Charles in season four told Vanity Fair that Bradley Cooper and Alec Baldwin reached out to congratulate him on his performance. Ironically, he almost didn’t audition for the part (we can’t imagine anyone else in the role). He did say, though, that playing the role changed the way he viewed relationships. To prepare, O’Connor read about arranged marriages and the psychology of marital breakdowns. “I’m more wary of marriage now,” he said.
5. The actress who played Diana had a movement coach
Actress Emma Corrin told British Vogue that she worked with movement coach Polly Bennett to nail Diana’s characteristics and movement. They even tried to figure out which animal Diana most resembled in her movements. After initially considering a deer, Corrin settled on a cat.
6. Harry and Meghan purportedly watched the show
“An accomplished cook, Meghan loved to make extravagant dinners for Harry, and they enjoyed staying in and eating her delicious homemade meals and watching films and TV shows like The Crown on Netflix,” Nicholl wrote.
7. They recreated the iconic wedding dress exactly
Millions around the world watched Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s fairytale wedding on TV. When recreating the iconic moment, designers were tasked with creating an almost exact replica of Diana’s gown. “We were filming the scene when you first see her in the wedding dress and I had a team of about 10 people helping me put it on, because it’s massive,” Corrin told British Vogue. “I walked out and everyone went completely silent. More than anything else I wear in the series, it’s so her.”
8. The pay disparity between king and queen was real
Claire Foy played a brilliant Queen in the first two seasons. In fact, Foy won a Golden Globe, Emmy, and Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance. However, it was reported that The Crown’s producers actually paid Foy less than her co-star Matt Smith who played the Queen’s husband in the series.
The producers said the pay discrepancy had to to do with the fact that Matt Smith was a better known actor, due to his role in Doctor Who. After the pay disparity was made public, The Crown producers vowed to make things right. “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen,” said Suzanne Mackie at the INTV Conference in Jerusalem.
9. Initial viewers of The Crown were older and wealthier
The Crown‘s debut on Netflix was a huge success in the U.S. according to Deadline. Nearly two thirds of the initial viewers were ages 35 or older — with 50% over 49 — and 40% of its viewers came from households with incomes of more than $100,000.
The 1960s-set series also skewed heavily female, with 65% of overall viewers identifying as women. As the show gained popularity, the audience it reached became more diverse in age and gender.
For more behind-the-scenes facts about movies and TV shows, click the links below!