“The Crown” actress talks to Vanity Fair’s Krista Smith about her latest film “Breathe” and how she finally feels like she’s coming into her own.
by Damon Wise
Inspired by UK playwright Peter Morgan’s critically acclaimed 2013 play The Audience—which enjoyed a brief but successful Broadway run in 2015—The Crown proved a surprise hit for Netflix when the series debuted in November of last year. Starting with the marriage of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to Prince Philip in 1947, a scant few years before her coronation at the age of 25 in 1952, the 10-part first season served as an origin story for the world’s longest reigning monarch.
It also offered an introduction to actress Claire Foy, who—along with co-stars John Lithgow, as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Matt Smith, as her husband Prince Philip—received glowing reviews for her performance, which earned her a Golden Globe just over two months after Season 1 aired. In December, the story will continue, acquainting Her Majesty with dangerous affairs in the Middle East and a more embarrassing scandal closer to home.
How did this part come to you?
It started the usual way – I got sent the script. It was slightly tempered by the fact that I was five months pregnant at the time [in the fall of 2014]. So when my agent mentioned it, I was like, “Do you really think I want to have a three-month-old baby and do a nine-month TV series while I play The Queen of England? Are you insane?” [laughs] So I was reticent about it. But my agent said, ‘They just want to talk to you.”
So I went, and it was nice, and they said, “Would you mind coming back and maybe doing a test?” I thought I’d have to go to LA, because it was Netflix, so I said, “Well, that’s not going to happen, because I can’t fly anymore,” but they said, “No, we can do it in London.” So I went back, and Stephen Daldry and I went over a few different scenes. Then they said, “Do you want to do it?” So it was a bit of an odd experience because at no point did I really consider it a serious possibility. And at no point did I really think that I would be who they were looking for.
What were they looking for in your audition? Were they looking for somebody with a strong resemblance to The Queen?
No. Well, we did do a costume fitting, but obviously, with a giant baby bump it was hilarious, because I was wearing a gown and a wig and a crown—I looked like a pregnant toddler. I think, knowing them now, they just wanted someone to discover [the part] with. It was very open. Maybe because I was pregnant, I was just very relaxed. Then, in November, they told me that I’d got it, and we started shooting in the July the following year. We knew that it was commissioned for two series from the off, and that we’d shoot all 10 episodes in one fell swoop. There was going to be no pilot.
What kind of research did you do?
Oh God. I can’t really remember. I think I did what I usually do, which is to buy thousands of documentaries and watch them all, because you can pretend it’s work. And then I got loads of books and read them. Actually, I had a very long time to get used to the idea of playing the Queen. I’ve never really had that before, actually—that expanse of time to get into character. Then we started working with a voice coach, William Conacher, who’s a genius—we couldn’t have made The Crown without him. It all happened very slowly, which was probably a benefit. There was no pressure to make any sudden, mad choices. Continue reading Claire Foy, From ‘Crown’ Jewels To Golden Globe And Beyond
Emmy Wrap Magazine: Queen of Netflix reflects on her two-season run as Britain’s long-reigning monarch
By Matt Donnelly
By the time you read this, Claire Foy’s reign as Queen Elizabeth II will be over.
She’s just wrapped the second season of the lush Netflix drama “The Crown,” and QEII will be played by a different actress as the show skips a few decades ahead for season three. But before that happens, you’ll have another batch of Foy episodes before the streaming giant coronates her successor.
For now, it’s a celebration of the current incarnation of “The Queen,” which landed 13 Emmy nominations for its first season and has become a powerful contender for top awards.
“The first season was highly emotional, and this time around I’ve been able to enjoy the differences between me and her a bit more,” Foy told TheWrap from London, speaking of Queen Elizabeth herself.
The world’s longest-sitting monarch had turbulent beginnings, as the first season of Peter Morgan’s series illustrated. It kicked off in 1947, with Foy briefly playing Princess Elizabeth — a newlywed to the misbehaving Prince Philip (Matt Smith) who rushes from her home in Malta to the English bedside of her ailing father King George VI (Jared Harris).
“It’s very difficult to play someone who everyone has a preconception about and not sort of let that in–it’s hard enough alone to imagine yourself as the queen,” Foy said. She clearly pulled it off, winning the Golden Globe and SAG Awards and landing her first Emmy nomination as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Foy said she avoided the intimidation factor by “anchoring” her performance around the death of King George and the ripple it sent through the house. That building also contained her sister Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and her grandmother Queen Mary.
“It was there in Peter’s writing, and I knew early on that the crux of the whole story was the fact that her father died,” she said. “It was an earthquake. Suddenly there were four women without this man, who had been the love of all their lives.”
What’s worse? “They had to get on with it!” she added, “it’s women in a family trying to put themselves back together, but never having enough time to do it properly.” Continue reading Claire Foy Talks ‘The Crown’ Feminist Backlash, Queen Elizabeth’s Drinking Habits
By Debra Birnbaum
“It’s six degrees of separation,” said Nicole Kidman, of her connection to Claire Foy. The two women had gotten to know each other when Kidman was on stage in London with Foy’s husband, Stephen Campbell Moore, in a production of “Photograph 51.” But it’s their TV roles that have everyone talking — Kidman as an abused wife in HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” and Foy as the reluctant Queen in Netflix’s “The Crown.”
The actresses open up to Variety about the roles that may win them Emmy gold.
Congratulations on your Emmy nominations. What do they mean to you?
Nicole Kidman: I’m absolutely over the moon, because obviously this is something that from conception all the way to now has been my baby and to see it get acknowledged in this way is extraordinary. It’s good to have all of the cast and all of the production and the director and everyone’s nominations. It just makes for a sort of joyous celebration.
Claire Foy: I feel the same. I think it feels a bit surreal because we finished shooting the second (season) of “The Crown” now, so it feels like we’re at the end, even though (the Emmy nomination) is about the first series. So exactly the same as Nicole really, that so many people from the show have been nominated, but it’s just a lovely excuse for everyone to get back together again and celebrate something that was so lovely to do. You get to celebrate it in a way where we can all go, “Hooray!”
What do you each look for in a part? What makes you say yes to any given role?
Kidman: For me, it changes every time. It can be a director, it can be the actual character and the journey of that character, it can be a small role in a film that I feel is really compelling. It can be because it’s being directed by a woman, or it’s written by a woman, it can be because my friend’s starring in it. There’s so many different reasons I do things. But, I suppose the underlying current for me is the idea of not doing something I’ve done before. I call myself a character actor and I’m always trying to stay a character actor.
Foy: I’m one of those people where I don’t really know what it is really until it’s front of me, and I have definitely said no to things that on paper would make a lot of sense. Or would be a really great part, but for some reason, I don’t feel like I’m the right person for that part or I don’t understand it in the same way as other things. That’s not to say I’ve done things that I completely understand, because the majority of my jobs, I’ve been terrified about not really getting to the heart of it or struggling to. I’m realizing the more jobs I do and as my career goes on that there seems to be a theme of choosing the things I’m most scared of doing in a weird way. I’ve never really taken a job and not been scared of some sort of aspect of it. It’s the challenge of it, I think. Continue reading Nicole Kidman and Claire Foy on Formidable Female Roles and Collaborating With Male Showrunners
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip next face the ’60s in ‘The Crown,’ says Claire Foy, and they don’t handle it well
By Glenn Whipp
Claire Foy has spent most of the last two years playing Queen Elizabeth for the Emmy-nominated Netflix period drama “The Crown,” wearing tiaras and tartan, acting with the utmost reserve and enduring loads of questions about whether playing a monarch improves one’s posture.
On the latter front, Foy laughs off any illusions of regality, happily slouching in a leather chair throughout a leisurely interview at Netflix’s curated Emmy promotional space in Beverly Hills. Fresh off a transatlantic flight, London to Los Angeles, Foy is famished, devouring a Twix bar, only to find, minutes later, that somehow the chocolate worked its way into the designer trousers she borrowed for the evening event, a Q&A with costar Matt Smith and James Corden at the film academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater across the street.
“I’m such an idiot!” Foy shouts. “I’ve got chocolate on my bum!”
“You know,” she adds, after a couple of minutes of light dabbing averts the crisis, “if they were my own clothes, I wouldn’t be bothered. I’d be, like, ‘Eh. Who cares?’ Personally, my main use of clothes is if I can wipe my hands on it.”
Foy, Oxford-trained, extraordinary as Anne Boleyn in the 2015 BBC adaptation of “Wolf Hall,” Emmy-nominated for her quiet, controlled portrait of Elizabeth on “The Crown,” immediately comes across as an earthy sort. Having just finished shooting the second season of Netflix’s royal drama — each 10-episode run took nine months to film — she has no immediate plans to work (“I can’t even contemplate doing anything at all”) and eagerly shares two pressing, personal goals for her time off.
“I’d really like to go rock climbing, not rock climbing like Tom Cruise hanging off a mountain, but, because I’m not physically strong or muscle-y, I’d like to take that challenge, just a wall, you know,” Foy says. “And I’m going to fly a plane for the first time. I love being in the sky, but I also have a fear of flying. So it’s a weird fascination.”
Foy clearly likes a challenge, which is why she’s happy that the producers of “The Crown” decided to recast the entire show for the third season, which will jump ahead in time to the 1970s. Playing Elizabeth for six years would have presented its own mental demands, but at age 33, Foy is more interested in exploring her range than in trying to combat the complacency that can set in when working on a long-running show. Continue reading Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip next face the ’60s in ‘The Crown,’ says Claire Foy, and they don’t handle it well
by Bryn Elise Sandberg
The actress chats with THR about parting ways with the role of Queen Elizabeth, which the Netflix drama will recast next season.
When Claire Foy signed up to star in The Crown, she knew she’d only be playing Queen Elizabeth for two seasons. But the news may have come as a shock to many viewers of the Netflix drama who came to love the breakout actress’ portrayal of the young Royal.
“I’m quite philosophical about these things and I think the amazing thing about the show is the fact that it will go on and that it hasn’t ended badly. It’ll go on and have another life,” Foy tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I can’t wait to watch it and I just think whoever they get to play that part, they’ll be extraordinary. I will never watch it with any sense of bitterness or regret. I will feel what I will feel now, which is so happy and lucky for the experience.”
Foy hopped on the phone with THR to further discuss what it feels like to leave the character behind as the drama looks to recast an older actress, her upcoming film with Damien Chazelle and how she’s adjusting to her newfound fame.
Since you wrapped shooting on the second season, do you get a bit of break now?
Well, we didn’t have much of a break because we went and did reshoots. So I went to New York for a bit and came back and did reshoots. But then now it’s officially done and so I’m just at home being mom and getting my washing done and seeing some plays. It’s amazing suddenly having that because it’s been two years of my life. I’m now catching up, which sounds dull but actually it’s really exciting. (Laughs.)
You had your first child right before the first season of The Crown. What was it like diving into motherhood and the show at the same time?
Yeah, I never would’ve planned it that way, but then I suppose that’s life. I had no idea it was going to pan out like that. But I think becoming a mother for the first time is a whirlwind in any situation that you’re in. I think mine was just slightly more mental in a sense that I was working long hours and my baby came with me to work, and not everybody has that luxury. So it was such a different way of working. I had been working for about 10 years before I had a child, so I knew the parameters as far as that was concerned, but I suppose this was the biggest job I had done up until that point. So I was aware going into it that it was quite a lot to take on and I think I’m only realizing now coming out of it just how much pressure I put myself under unnecessarily. (Laughs.) But I think all mothers at a certain point look back and go, “God, I was mad. Why did I stay up until 4 o’clock in the morning making puréed food? What was I doing?” I buy it. They have a packet. But that’s just what you do because this is the guilt, the amazing guilt. The amazing, amazing mother’s guilt.
You were able to bring her to set with you most of the time, yes?
Yeah, I mean, especially because I fed her for a good year, so she sort of had to be. But to be honest, film sets are not particularly interesting places for anyone other than the people who are making the film to be. My sister once came on set and she will never come again. She was like, “This is the most boring thing I’ve ever done.” (Laughs.) And I’m like, “Yeah, see. See. We’re in a car park in London.” So I think it’s only fun for a certain amount of time. Continue reading Claire Foy Talks Moving on From ‘The Crown’: “It’ll Go On and Have Another Life”