Imelda Staunton takes over the royal baton as the latest actor to play Queen Elizabeth in the hit Netflix drama The Crown, whose new season has faced criticism for putting a difficult era for the British royal so soon after the late monarch’s death. family ushers in.
The award-winning stage and screen actress, whose previous credits include Vera Drake and the films Downton Abbey and Harry Potter, is leading a new cast for season five, set in the 1990s, of the royal drama centered on Elizabeth’s reign.
Elizabeth herself called 1992, the monarchy’s 40th year on the throne, her ‘annus horribilis’ after family quarrels, public dissent and a fire at Windsor Castle.
“This time in the life of the royal family was very tumultuous and the writers did not shy away from difficult issues,” Staunton told Reuters in an interview.
Season five will be released on November 9, two months after Elizabeth died and her son Charles became king. One of the main storylines is the divorce of then Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Some royal commentators have expressed concern about the impact the show could have at the start of Charles’s reign.
Others, including actress Judi Dench, have called on Netflix to add a disclaimer criticizing fictitious scenes and dialogue.
In a letter to the London Times newspaper last month, 87-year-old Dench said that as the award-winning show approaches the present day, “the freer it seems as if he is willing to blur the lines between historical accuracy and gross sensationalism”.
Netflix says The Crown is “fictional dramatization” inspired by real events. “I find the idea that there is a need for a disclaimer a bit patronizing. After four seasons, I think people all over the world know very well that this is a drama based on real events,” said actor Jonathan Pryce, who plays Prince Philip.
“I think the closeness of the queen’s death … The nerve endings are still raw and people feel very protective,” Staunton said. “If this came out two years ago, I don’t think this would be the case. And that is understandable, of course.”
Pryce, who previously played Pope Francis in The Two Popes, said he had gained a better understanding of Elizabeth and Philip working on the series.
“And far from being hurtful or harmful, I think the audience will discover, as we have discovered as actors, how compassionate this show is to the problems the royal family had at the time,” he said.