Vanity Fair – The Crown has cast Olivia Colman as its new queen. The actress, seen most recently in the U.S. in AMC’s The Night Manager and Amazon’s Fleabag, will step into the role of Elizabeth II for the series’ third and fourth seasons, replacing Claire Foy as the action of the show moves closer toward the present day. Creator Peter Morgan has said he always planned to replace the cast in later seasons in order to accurately portray the show’s characters as they age. And Foy, for her part, is “thrilled” to pass the crown to Colman.
“I’ve known for a long time. I found out many, many months ago, and I was just like, yes, just do it! Whatever happens, don’t let her get away. Make her do it,” Foy told Vanity Fair at the B.A.F.T.A.’s Britannia Awards in Beverly Hills Friday evening, where she was honored with the British Artist of the Year award. “It was to the point where I actually spoke to her on the phone and told her, you have to do it. You have to do it! She’s the most extraordinary actress and person in every single way. I love her, so I’m thrilled. I have always loved her. I can’t wait to see her in it.”
Foy, who has won a Golden Globe award and a Screen Actors Guild award for her compelling performance as Queen Elizabeth, has one piece of advice for Colman—not to compare herself to the other actresses who previously portrayed the Queen.
“There’s no shortcut in playing the Queen. It’s for her to discover, and she’ll probably find out lots of things that I never found out,” said Foy. “She’ll play the Queen at a very different time to me. It’s a rolling thing, and it’s ever-changing and ever-revolving. That’s the secret in portraying the Queen—no one owns it. It’s everyone’s interpretation, and that’s also the beauty of it. I think the most important thing for her is to just do it, and not think about anyone else who has ever done it before. It’s a challenging role, but she knows what she’s doing. She’ll completely reinvent it and make it her own.”
The second season debuts December 8 on Netflix, and it’s been several months since Foy has wrapped production. Now that her successor has been announced, her time on The Crown is officially coming to an end. What she’ll miss about playing Queen Elizabeth is not the beautiful costumes or the grand sets, she says, but her costars.
“People have said it before, but it’s the truth. We really became a family, and I will miss them the most. Meeting John [Lithgow], meeting Matt [Smith], Vanessa Kirby, Victoria Hamilton, Peter Morgan—they are these people who I got so close with and had such a bond,” said Foy, who will next appear as Lisbeth Salander in the upcoming film adaptation of The Girl in the Spider’s Web. “We shared such an experience. So that’s what I’m going to miss, the people. I’ll miss them so much!”
During the Britannia Awards ceremony, Foy reunited with Lithgow, who earned an Emmy last September for his portrayal of Winston Churchill. While presenting Foy with her award, he gushed to the audience that “acting with Claire was one of the greatest joys of my life in my 50-year career.” He also shared that he was in awe of his costar’s professionalism and her strong work ethic.
“Though she was unquestionably the star of this vast project, I never once saw her assert the slightest whiff of privilege or entitlement. She cheerfully slogged through the mud to the makeup trailer from her cramped Honey Wagon dressing room, identical to everyone else,” said Lithgow. “I never heard her mutter a single complaint or even saw her frown at any of the daunting conditions that we frequently worked under. And this was the young mother of Ivy Rose, a beautiful 1-year-old baby girl. Claire’s kind nature prevailed over the cast and crew of 100 people. Off-camera, she never let more than 40 seconds pass without that cheery, bell-like laugh breaking forth. In fact, the only problem that Claire and I faced in playing the many two-handed scenes between Elizabeth and Winston Churchill was cracking each other up.”
Besides missing her costars, the one regret Foy has from her time on The Crown was not being able to take home any props from the set. “I wanted so many things, but we weren’t allowed,” she said. “They need it all for the next couple of seasons. A crown would have been fantastic!”