The Sun – Having won a Golden Globe last year for her plummy-voiced portrayal of the Queen in Netflix TV series The Crown, the 33-year-old British actress appears to be the princess of Tinseltown.
But she is far from royalty.
She was born in Stockport, Greater Manchester, raised by her single mum, worked on the checkout in Tesco for five years and described herself as “a massive commoner”.
Claire’s childhood was marred by illnesses, one of which — a tumour in her eye at the age of 17 — could have shattered her dreams of becoming an actress.
Instead it made her more determined to succeed.
She said: “It was horrible and debilitating, but it made me realise that I needed to grab the life I wanted.
“If that hadn’t happened, I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to throw my cards on the table and say I wanted to study drama.”
Fortunately the tumour was benign and could be treated without invasive and potentially disfiguring surgery.
She said: “I’m quite lucky to have a face. I was a bit like Cyclops and it was all a bit scary.
“I was on steroids for about a year and a half afterwards that makes you put on a lot of weight and have really bad skin.”
Claire grew up in a huge Irish extended family — her maternal grandparents, who came from Dublin and County Kildare, had 22 siblings between them.
Her mum, Caroline, was an office worker, and her dad, David, was a salesman for photocopier giant Rank Xerox.
Claire had an older brother and an older sister, and her parents found paying the bills was already difficult.
But when she was eight they divorced, and her mum became a single working parent.
Claire said: “I don’t know how she did it.
“She took a job that meant she could be there for us when we got back from school. She is an extraordinary mum.
“There is not anything that she has not given us.”
But with money tight, Claire found work in a pub in her teens and said: “I was always very, very aware of money and not having any.
“I always knew there was no money coming from anywhere else, so it was a case of ‘Well, I’ve just got to get out there and make it myself.’”
Pulling pints was just the first of a long line of menial jobs she took in her youth.
She said: “I did telesales, I gave out magazines at Tube stations, I worked at Wimbledon as a security officer. I was a piano teacher for a while, I worked in sales.
“And for a long time I worked at Tesco, which was actually a dream job because I’d always wanted to work on a till.
“Seriously, when I was younger I used to look at tills in the Argos catalogue, I was so obsessed with them.
“So when I started working at Tesco, I was thinking, ‘OK, here we go. Ping! Ping!’ I loved it.”
But Claire’s ultimate job was always going to be as a performer.
Her first ambition was to be a ballet dancer, but soon after the family moved to Longwick in Buckinghamshire, that idea was crushed.
At the age of 13, the previously sporty girl developed juvenile arthritis which left her temporarily crippled and in agony and set her apart from the rest of her schoolgirl pals.
She said: “I was on crutches while the other girls were running around. My knees were swollen while theirs were being shown off in miniskirts.”
The experience gave her confidence a knock.
It was only after the eye tumour at 17 that she applied to study drama at Liverpool John Moores University, and later at the Oxford School of Drama, but it did not automatically transform her into a confident actress.
She said: “I was never the prettiest or the most talented girl. It was always an uphill struggle. I’ve loved drama, but somehow I just thought everyone else was better than me.”
Like most actors, it took her a long time to make her breakthrough, but it came in 2008 when she landed a small part in the pilot of BBC Three drama Being Human, which then saw her get the title role as Amy in BBC1 period drama Little Dorrit, later that year.
After that, the parts steadily rolled in, from the 2010 revival of Upstairs Downstairs, to The Promise in 2011 and Wolf Hall in 2015.
Some of the roles required her to do sex scenes — which Claire hated.
She said: “If I never had to do a sex scene again, that would be the best thing in the world, because no one in their right mind would enjoy that.”
“You’re worried about what the crew are thinking, whether they’re really uncomfortable, whether you’re uncomfortable. You’re just thinking, ‘God, let this be over!’”
While making her first film, 2011 fantasy Season of the Witch, Claire fell in love with co-star Stephen Campbell Moore, and they married in 2014.
The following year she gave birth to their daughter and landed the role of the young Queen Elizabeth in The Crown.
Then at the end of 2016, when the first series aired, Stephen was diagnosed with a benign tumour on his pituitary gland at the base of the brain, which controls metabolism.
The 38-year-old actor said: “You realise you’re not the most important person in that process, and everybody who loves you goes through far worse.
“My daughter didn’t know what was going on at all. But my family did, and I could see it in them.”
The couple, who live in North London, had to prepare for the worst when Stephen had to have more surgery last summer.
He said: “There are certain things that you make sure you’ve done before you go into surgery.
“You write a letter. But it’s all very much on the offchance that something did go wrong, because every part of you is saying that nothing will.
“Waking up and being told the operation had gone well was understandably a huge relief.”
Though Stephen now seems to be on the mend, the fear of losing her husband could not have come at a worse time for Claire.
She could cope with being pregnant while filming the first series of The Crown, but last year she had to make the second series amid the stress of not knowing whether she would soon be a widow.
Now Claire, who has never discussed her husband’s illness, has started a whole new chapter.
After her Golden Globe for The Crown, she has now left the series, with the older Queen Elizabeth being played by Olivia Colman.
WHAT AN HONOR! Claire Foy was selected to cover the Vanity Fair 2018’s Hollywood issue with stars such as Oprah Winfrey, Reese Whiterspoon, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Michael B. Jordan, Zendaya, Jessica Chastain, Michael Shannon, Harrison Ford, Gal Gadot, Robert De Niro and Graydon Carter. And you can check all the details below:
Vanity Fair – CLAIRE FOY, actor.
7 films, including Unsane (2018); 16 television shows, including The Crown, Season Two (2017).
Quintessential Englishness is the viola Claire Foy plays, usually in period costume. Foy was outfitted with the poshy title of Lady Persephone Towyn in the remake of Upstairs, Downstairs (BBC), lost her head as Anne Boleyn on Wolf Hall (BBC), and was reconstituted for greatness as Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown (Netflix), contending with a moody husband, a lumbering Winston Churchill, a sprawling empire, and the deadweight of protocols and precedents—all while maintaining cameo-brooch composure. In royalty, as in theater, the show must go on.
Recently, the ‘Unsane’ trailer, a Steven Soderbergh movie that Claire Foy will star in, was released on social media, combined with the release date: March 23. Check it out below:
— Unsane Movie (@UnsaneMovie) 29 de janeiro de 2018
Some stills were also published a few days ago:
Claire Foy is a part of the December issue of Vogue USA, which celebrates the 125 years of Vogue, and she talked about her carreer, about her life and about the second season of ‘The Crown’. She was also photographed for the issue and you can check everything related to this below:
What happens to an actress once she has played the queen? Does some magisterial DNA rub off on her? Helen Mirren, Kristin Scott Thomas, Judi Dench have all been appointed dames. Only Cate Blanchett, who so magnificently illuminated Elizabeth II’s namesake, Elizabeth I, is yet to receive a title. But since she’s an Aussie and thus, technically, a subject of Her Majesty, there’s still a chance. Besides, Blanchett exudes innate queenliness.
“The role can give you quite a lot back if you let it,” says Peter Morgan, who should know, since he wrote not only The Crown (for TV) and The Audience (for the stage) but also The Queen, the 2006 movie that arguably restored the monarchy’s popularity following Princess Diana’s death. “When Helen was a guest of the Obamas at the White House Correspondents’ dinner,” says Morgan, “everyone else was being mercilessly teased, but the entire room stood up and cheered her. I’m not sure Helen didn’t grow two inches.”
The glow of imminent stardom flickers like Saturn’s rings around Claire Foy, who will be back as Elizabeth Regina in season two of The Crown this month. Directors from Steven Soderbergh and La La Land’s Damien Chazelle to Evil Dead’s Fede Alvarez have lined up to work with the prolific but previously little-known 33-year-old British actress. Far from being in character when we meet for chamomile tea at the chic London members’ club Quo Vadis, she is wearing tortoiseshell glasses, her blondish hair scraped back with visible roots—the remnants of her role in her recent movie Breathe, opposite Andrew Garfield— and a denim jumpsuit from Citizens of Humanity. (There’s no such thing as a bad jumpsuit day in Foy’s book; at the Emmys in September, she arrived in a silver-trimmed black version by Oscar de la Renta.) By the time you read this, she and her jumpsuits will have decamped to Atlanta to film Chazelle’s First Man, which traces America’s determination to get its man on the moon before the Soviets. Foy plays Neil Armstrong’s wife, Janet, opposite Ryan Gosling.
“She’s incredibly resilient and very physically fit,” says Foy, a knotty contrast not just with the body language required for the queen but also, she says, with herself. Janet would happily have gone to the moon, while Foy feels nervous on a crowded Tube. Then there’s Janet’s voice. The dialogue coach, she says, “keeps saying, ‘Stop! You’re doing the queen with a different accent.’”
Foy is used to range. She has played two queens (Anne Boleyn, on the TV version of Wolf Hall, and Elizabeth), an angelic Dickensian heroine (barely out of drama school she was cast as Little Dorrit in a fourteen-part BBC adaptation of the Dickens blockbuster), and Lady Macbeth (onstage, opposite James McAvoy). With each, she excavated layers that academics have sometimes overlooked. “She’s a lot of fun in person and has a kinetic energy,” says Chazelle, “but when you really talk, you realize how much else is going on. When we first discussed the part, she came with this idea of an interview with Janet she’d found. There was nothing in the script about it—it was astounding she’d unearthed it. I wound up putting some of it into the movie.”
With the weight of so much praise comes a burden of expectation, and Foy seems hell-bent on staying grounded. She likes to tell entertaining stories at her own expense. Today it’s about how she’s been struggling to juggle the care of her two-year-old daughter with her mother and her husband, the actor Stephen Campbell Moore, who starred in The History Boys. How she’s a homebody who likes to bake cakes and, having weaned herself off “terrible reality TV,” watches documentaries, particularly those by Louis Theroux. Foy and Moore recently bought a house in Wood Green, an “up-and-coming” corner of North London, and she spends her weekends puttering around the neighborhood shopping for rugs and cushions. “I love putting everything together,” she says, “but nothing makes sense.” She talks about how no one ever recognizes her. How her first forays onto the red carpet “were like roadkill. If it hadn’t been for Felicity Jones, who knew exactly what to do, I wouldn’t have even known you’re meant to twirl.”
But in the golden rays of a fall afternoon, it’s her pellucid blue-gray eyes, the delicate, below-the-surface incandescence—which Tina Brown, writing in The New York Times, described as “luminously ordinary”—that draw you in. For most of our conversation she leans toward me across our little table, back curved: the Conspiratorial Girlfriend Hunch. She can communicate beauty, comedy, or pathos seemingly by tilting her head, depending on whether sexual sorcery or prim, plain-as-milk sourness is required.
One Friday, a few weeks after our tea, I catch up with Foy over breakfast at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, where she is about to take part in a Q & A as part of a whirlwind promotional tour for Breathe. Tonight she will catch a plane to Zurich. On Monday she hits New York. Meanwhile, the Internet has been ablaze with speculation as to what she will bring to her newly announced role in The Girl in the Spider’s Web. If Janet Armstrong is a swerve away from Foy’s previous roles, taking on the raw, anarchic, borderline anorexic Lisbeth Salander in Fede Alvarez’s reboot of the Stieg Larsson franchise is the giant leap actresses dream of. For Alvarez, it was never a stretch. “From her first scene of The Crown, I fell in love with the way she was able to tell an emotional story,” he says. There’s already a cybersphere mock-up of Foy in Salander’s goth makeup and tattoos.
Her take on Larsson’s divisive thrillers, which she devoured, along with the movies, when they first came out, is characteristically nuanced. She doesn’t find the violence misogynistic. “I think the books show how this girl was taken advantage of by the system and by men and had chosen her sexuality,” she says. “Mind you, it’s weird when something’s written by a man. Are you just playing a woman through a man’s eyes? Then again, it’s my job as an actress to bring that missing link.”
Foy is efficiently working her way through a croissant with jam and butter. “The sugar-free thing isn’t going too well today, as you can see,” she deadpans—five minutes earlier she’d been telling me that her greatest luxury, apart from the Bechstein piano she bought post–The Crown, is stocking up on healthy food. Not many actors would be able to segue seamlessly between French baking, blonde highlights (“Being blonde changed my life. I loved it. When you’re brunette, people don’t hold the door open for you—but the upkeep!”), and devastating insights into three different characters. Four if you count Steven Soderbergh, with whom she recently worked on Unsane, a film shot in New York on an iPhone over ten days, and whom she (semi-) jokingly refers to as “a man of mystery.” Unsane was the ultimate antidote to The Crown. “There was no time to stress or overthink anything, no extraordinary lighting and cameras. Steven likes to explode reputation, and that’s completely what I needed.”
It’s probably safe to assume that professionally, Foy will not look back when she leaves The Crown after the two seasons to make way for an older actor and a more recent timeline. “Generally, there’s less pomp in the second season,” she says. “Matt”—Smith, who plays Prince Philip—“and I were always saying, ‘Can we have more domestic scenes?’ because you really, really want to see them as human beings. What’s so interesting is what slippers they wear, and those sorts of things.” As the mother of a newborn, then a baby she nursed on set during filming, Foy found the royal couple’s prolonged absences from their children hard to wrap her head around. During a Commonwealth tour in 1953–54, for example, the queen and Prince Philip left five-year-old Charles and three-year-old Anne at home for five months.
Foy’s own family—sprawling, Irish, and raucous on her mother’s side; unknowable on the other, since her father was adopted—is a tight nexus. The youngest of three siblings, she was eight when her father, a salesman for Rank Xerox, and her mother, an administrator in pharmaceuticals, divorced. Initially, despite the alacrity with which Foy performed at home for anyone who’d watch— acting, dancing, and playing piano, despite not being able to read music—she didn’t even consider a career as an actor, deterred, she says, by the prospect of “singing songs and having to pretend to be animals.” She turned to it only when her application to study broadcast journalism was rejected.
In her youth, Foy suffered from a congenital form of arthritis, which meant she couldn’t do much sport, and spent a lot of time watching old movies on TV. She’s still careful to get rest (“I’m like a child; I like to be in bed at nine”) and insists that after Spider’s Web, “that’s it. I’m categorically taking time off.” Then, at seventeen, she developed a (benign) tumor in her eye that required steroids. “It was definitely disfiguring,” she says. “Before, I had a relatively symmetrical face, and now my right eye is a completely different shape.” The sunny interpretation is that the tumor’s aftereffects somehow caused what Alvarez describes as “her ability to express a sea of repressed emotion with only her eyes.” “Maybe the muscles had to learn to work in a different way,” muses Foy. “What it taught me is that it’s human nature to get ill.”
Which means that, like the queen, for whom she has acquired enormous respect, she is stoic. Foy has met Her Majesty only once, briefly, at a Buckingham Palace celebration of Charles Dickens’s birth in 2012. They shook hands—Foy remembers the queen’s were gloved. “My overwhelming feeling was, God, it’s 10:30. She’s in her 80s, and she’s still up. How incredibly hard she works! What really breaks my heart,” she continues, switching back to the show, “is her relationship with her sister. Margaret’s so effervescent and aliv… I think the queen would love her freedom. But she wouldn’t do what Margaret does—which is the point.”
Foy, meanwhile, relishes not just freedom but risk-taking, which is why she’s ready to say goodbye to the queen. “I’ll probably cry when it’s finally over,” she says. “But what’s the point of doing all this if you’re going to play it safe?”