Netflix’s “The Crown” has consistently delivered great television for three seasons now, and with the recent premier of their fourth season, promises to not only continue to do so but to step up its game.
The appeal for the first three seasons was a sense of history. These events happened decades ago, and have a certain far away appeal to us, having taken place it a different time and space. We all know much of what goes on and what is said is speculation and amped up for dramatic effect, but they were always based on true people and events and thus were all the more interesting.
Season four’s hook is a bit different, as it covers an era more viewers will be familiar with, more of the modern age. We are also introduced to much more contemporary personalities such as Britain’s first woman prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. But perhaps the greatest attraction for viewers is the tragic love story of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
“I was actually with Josh when I got the role.” Says Emma Corrin, who when made up for the screen is a splitting image of the princess. “There was a lot of screaming. I think I probably just did that for a while letting it sink in. I remember calling my family in the car on the way home.” She was even listening to the Crown’s soundtrack on her trip to make things “feel real.”
When asked what attracted them about their roles, for Emma it was Diana’s complexity. “She has a lot of strengths and a lot of vulnerability and I was interested at how those played off each other.” She also went on to say that while researching for the role she had found several things about Diana she could relate to. For one thing, like the princess she loves being around people and meeting new people, and her job as an actress has put her in exactly those types of situations.
“I often dance when I’m trying to work things out.” Emma confesses. “I think she did that too.”
For Josh O’Connor who has played Prince Charles since the previous season, the excitement and attraction was all about contrast. “Basically my challenge for season three was to make people love Charles and feel sorry for Charles, which I love doing. And then in season four to flip it, and turn on all the sort of darker tones of him and for me that was kind of, I like the contrast of the two seasons.”
Certainly, portraying the controversial couple had its share of challenges, but the actors found ways of coping. For Corrin throwing herself into the role helped with the pressure than came with it. “There was a lot of pressure.” She says, especially when faced with an overwhelming amount of information, much of which was misleading. “I think what really helped though with taking away that pressure was just getting on set and starting to do it… We had amazing movement coaches and dialogue coaches and it made it feel much more accessible.”
O’Connor felt some pressure in the role as well, but found the act of invention and creation helped ease the burden. “There is a bit of pressure, I guess. It’s about making a distinction between the character and the real person.” Beyond getting specific aspects and certain details right about his character, the interesting part was injecting some creativity. “The interesting bit as an actor is all the creation, the stuff you create around these characters and I think, as soon as you start delving into that and seeing it as a fictionalized version of these people, the pressure kind of lifts, I think because you know it’s about interpretation rather than recreation.”
Both were quick to emphasize the fictional aspect of the show and how freeing their work on the show became because of it. “We don’t ever, and will never have an authentic understanding of what they were actually like, but I also don’t think that’s a bad thing I think we shouldn’t know it’s none of anyone’s business, but also, I guess, tries to go behind the doors of it, but in a fictional way,” says the onscreen princess.
Her onscreen royal counterpart concurs completely. “I agree… it didn’t take long for either of us when we were researching these lies that it’s literally impossible to find the truth, on this marriage just as it is with any marriage in the world… And that’s also incredibly liberating, because you know, we can create what we want and make the decisions we want to make.”
As to how their views on the Royal Family changed, both actors generally agree that they now seem more human. “I think The Crown does a great job of humanizing these people, these relationships.” Corrin comments.
O’Connor opines, “I have a lot of sympathy for the fact that they are born into these roles, kind of, otherwise you know they have no real freewill, you know. We take for granted the fact that we are born, and the world is, you know, exists and we can kind of make our own path. When you’re Prince Charles you’re born and you’re… That’s it. Your next job, your life goal is to be the King. And in order to be King the Queen, your mum has to die, and so like, that is mad. And as a kind of slave your sort of basic human rights are just gone at birth… I have great sympathy for that.”
Catch Josh O’ Connor and Emma Corrin as the Prince and Princess of Wales in the fourth season of the Crown, now streaming on NETFLIX.