Article taken from Vanity Fair.
Like the no-nonsense monarch she plays on The Crown, Claire Foy has a finely tuned B.S. radar. And the actress doesn’t believe recent news reports that Queen Elizabeth has spent Saturday nights at Windsor Castle bingeing Foy’s Netflix show about her early days as Queen. Foy recently spoke with Vanity Fair about what to expect from The Crown’s anticipated second season (“sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”), whether she believes the Queen is a feminist, and what she thinks of another complex heroine she’s rumored to be circling, Lisbeth Salander.
Vanity Fair: We are talking in a space that Netflix has built that houses props and costumes from many of its shows, including some from The Crown, like the giant crown you wear in the coronation episode. What did it feel like wearing it on your head?
Claire Foy: When I wore it in the coronation there was a lot of other stuff going on as well. The dress was also ginormous, and I had loads of scepters, and an orb, and a giant cape . . . and I was wearing platform shoes, and so it was all a bit too much, to be honest. I just sort of thought, “I’m walking straight ahead, and I’m not going to stop.” Then luckily it didn’t plop off my head . . . I always feel more like [Queen Elizabeth] when I’ve got the wellies on, and the tartan skirts, and the headscarves, because that, to me, is who she really is. When she’s got the big gowns on and stuff, I think she’s probably quite uncomfortable in them, and I am, so it sort of makes a lot of sense, really.
You’re playing someone who has basically made it her job to keep her feelings to herself. How do you find an interior life for this person? It’s not like you have her diaries, it’s not like she did some big Oprah confessional.
Imagine if she did . . . There’s always people wanting something from her. She never meets anyone and it’s just a non-transactional relationship. Someone always wants something out of that meeting, or that audience, or whatever it is. I think she’s constantly trying to gauge what her input could be and how it could be useful, and how she can alter what she says in order to remain impartial . . . I’ve always felt that she’s a very thinking character, I suppose.
The Queen has apparently watched all 10 episodes, according to a royal source.
What royal source?
Well, it was in the British press, which is never wrong, as you know.
I can’t believe, I hadn’t heard anything about it, and I will believe it when I see it is all I’ll say.
Well, if we were to believe this royal source, on Saturday nights there is a Netflix-and-chill at Windsor Castle, and she’s seen all 10 episodes. So if that’s true, what would you make of knowing that she’s seen it?
I would be very interested to see what she thinks about historical elements of it, about . . . I think she’d be interested in the coronation. I think she’d be interested in the royal wedding, and I think she would be interested in the retelling of Treetops and all those sorts of things. The personal level of it, and seeing someone else act out your life, and act out your most painful moments of grief, or happiness, or fear, or triumph, or whatever, I don’t think would be a very enjoyable thing, which is why I doubt very much that she’s watched it. I wouldn’t want to watch that, but I think she would be intrigued about how well the program is made, and how well it depicts the family and the characters that she’s, in real life, got to know. Winston Churchill, for example.
There are a lot of women who watch this show and have interesting conversations about whether the Queen is a feminist or not. I’m curious, what do you think about that?
You’ve got to view her, in the first series especially, as a woman of her time. At that time, when she married Philip, she was marrying him to follow him in his career, and she knew that she would be Queen one day, but she thought that she would have time. It’s almost too easy to say she’s a feminist icon in the sense that she had no choice in anything that has happened to her. The way which she has dealt with her situation, what she’s had to put up with, how she’s performed her job, and also been a mother, and a wife, is beyond commendable and something to be respected, but I don’t think you can speak for someone else in that department. I don’t think you can say that she is a feminist or not a feminist, that’s for her to decide, and I think as a person, regardless of her gender, she’s extraordinary and she is unique. There is no one alive today who has met more heads of state, more politicians, more people of the arts, or anything, than her. Heads of religion, than her. There is no one with her set of skills or her knowledge of those people. It’s extraordinary. I think the world will be a very, very different place when she’s no longer on the throne.
One of the interesting things that you deal with in the first season is how her education was different because she was a princess. What did you think about that particular part of the plot in her life?
It wasn’t so much that she had a desire to learn, herself, but that she felt that she’d been let down in not being properly prepared for her job. She didn’t like being sat in a room full of men and not having anything to say, and not understanding what they were talking about . . . She knew about the Constitution and that was it, and she knew some French. She didn’t know anything about history or economics, or how to form an opinion. That wasn’t something that was deemed important. If she had been a prince, like Philip was, Philip was told, “Go on, be a man. Get out there and have an opinion. Be involved, and get out and experience the world.” That wasn’t what was going to happen for her, and it wasn’t what happened for lots and lots of girls and women of her generation. I think she felt deeply let down by that, and also then realized, when she had the choice, that she didn’t really want to know. That wasn’t something that was in her . . . She is an outdoorsy woman who loves being out in the countryside, and riding horses, and walking, and being out in the fresh air. That is something that brings her great pleasure, and she feels very, very connected to that.
What can you tell us about Season 2, which you’ve just finished shooting?
It pretty much starts where we left off. Then we go up to ‘63, ‘64. So we span about another seven, eight years. The first series was very much about the family and her finding her role after her father died and coming into her own, and this second series is very much about the outside world. It’s very much about Philip and his impact on the crown, and their marriage. It’s about Margaret and Tony Armstrong-Jones . . . It’s very much the outside world, and the ‘60s, and sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and stuff that really you would not associate with the Queen of England.
There have been some reports that you’re in talks to play Lisbeth Salander, the character in the Stieg Larsson novels, in an adaptation of them. Can you comment on that at all?
No, not at all.
Any thoughts on that character, and if she’s of interest?
I mean, she’s an amazing character, amazing. I’ve sort of got absolutely no idea of how it works, of where anyone gets their information from or anything. I don’t really know, but it’s a lovely thing to hear. But, no. I mean, extraordinary character, and amazing books, but yeah, no. I don’t know.
On The Crown, you have incredibly high production values. The budgets are much higher than they would be for just a regular show. Can you feel that on set?
It definitely felt like we were shooting a film, but . . . you couldn’t have made the show on a budget. It just wouldn’t have worked, because they live in palaces and they fly on private airplanes, especially at that period of time, and they get on trains, and they do speeches to 600 extras. There’s no way of doing it, and I think that’s what Netflix signed up for is to make something that is ambitious, and expansive, and vast . . . It was never just, “Oh, let’s just throw some gold on the walls.”
I do really love the idea of the Queen sitting and watching this. I know that you think that that’s not possibly true. I hope that she does.
Oh, it would be fascinating. Maybe we should do, have you heard of Gogglebox?
No, what’s that?
It’s a bit of a weird British thing, but there’s a TV program where you watch people watching telly. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s so entertaining. You watch people just talking at home about, “Oh, what she’s got on,” and those sort of things. It’s amazing, because you really see that’s more interesting than the TV program. So maybe they’ll do a Gogglebox of the Queen and Prince Charles, and Prince Philip.
That would be the highest-rated Gogglebox of all time.
It really would. It would be amazing.