On November 15, the fourth season of The Crown is finally dropping on Netflix!
Set between the late ’70s and the ’90s, this season promises more tension as two women rise to power alongside Olivia Colman’s Queen Elizabeth. These are Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first woman prime minister, and Lady Diana Spencer, who had been chosen to marry Prince Charles. What started like a fairy tale between the Prince and Diana soon becomes a royal conundrum.
In a virtual roundtable interview, we got to chat with Emma Corrin who plays Princess Diana, and Josh O’Connor who plays Prince Charles in the series. Here are some of the highlights of the interview:
What’s a surprising thing you learned about your characters, Princess Diana and Prince Charles?
Emma: I was really surprised to learn how much she loved to dance. I think those are some of my favorite scenes to film and certainly, I find that really fascinating.
Josh: I loved finding out about [Prince Charles’] views on the environment in the 60s and 70s, that was sort of laughed at and he was seen as a bit of a kind of joker. And now look who’s laughing.
And then in terms of our characters, I think the big discovery for me was how much love there was in our world. [Prince Charles and Diana’s relationship] wasn’t doomed to fail, they were misaligned. Those are my two major discoveries.
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How was it working together off-set?
Emma: It was great. We had a good old time. We had a really good time.
Josh: Every time that [our characters were] angry or hating each other, you just know that as soon as it’s called cut, we’re like taking the mick out of each other, laughing, playing games, so it’s all good.
What was the scene that was most difficult to shoot emotionally?
Emma: There was an argument seen in the last episode which we really struggled with just because it’s kind of the first time that they’ve really lost their [love] for each other and it sort of signifies the end of their relationship.
And it was very difficult to get to that place after coming so close and such. Josh and I have also never explored that particular dynamic between them before but we worked it out.
Josh: Yeah, I think that was definitely a tricky scene to film. For me, I always cited that scene as the end. He says in the scene, “I washed my hands of it.” and I was like I’m done.
And I feel like it was kind of closure for both of us. It was like we’ve gone on this journey, we’ve been filming together for six to eight months almost, and [when] we started near the end, it just felt like everything that both of us wanted to say to each other in that moment, it just came out.
What was hard was when on camera, it’s like literally shouting in Emma’s face and then off-camera, feeling really good. I know that’s a really tricky scene.
What kind of pressure did you feel playing these roles?
Emma: Yeah, there was a lot of pressure. And when I was doing my research, I became very overwhelmed by the amount of information that are there, and how much of it was quite misleading. I think what really helped though with taking away that pressure was just getting on set and starting to do it.
We had amazing movement coaches and dialect coaches and it made it feel much more accessible and I guess understanding the story that we’re telling also helped.
Josh: I think there is a bit of pressure but I think it is about removing making a distinction between the character and the real person. And I suppose there are aspects of Charles and there are aspects of Diana that we kind of wanted to be specific about and so that people feel safe in the knowledge that we are playing those real people.
But actually, [the interesting bit about being] an actor is all the creation– the stuff you create around those characters. And I think as soon as you start delving into that and seeing it as a fictionalized version of these people, the pressure kind of lifts, I think, because it’s about interpretation rather than replication.
Do you feel like the characters of Princess Diana and Prince Charles were misunderstood in any way during this period of time?
Emma: I don’t know if misunderstood, but I think that, obviously everything that everyone knows about them comes through the media, and the media’s portrayal is very misleading at times, [it’s] very biased. They always want to spin a story, for some reason, so I think we will never have an authentic understanding of what they were actually like, but I also don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Josh: I agree. It didn’t take long for either of us when we were researching about these [parts] that it’s literally impossible to find the truth on this marriage, just as it is with any marriage in the world. There will always be one person who thinks this and the other person who thinks that and this person has 100 friends who will think that this person is guilty and this person has 100 friends that think this [other] person is guilty.
It’s literally impossible to get to the truth. And that’s also incredibly liberating because it means we can create what we want and make the decisions we want to make.
What do you think makes this series really interesting even for people who are not familiar with Britain’s history and politics?
Emma: I think, what The Crown does really well is humanizing these people and these relationships. And I think it’s just a great study in marriages, friendships, and families. And I think also, [particularly this season], it’s so much about women in power. You have these three women: the Queen, Thatcher, and Diana, who all have been handed power in different ways, and are experiencing it in different ways, and you see how they grapple with it.
Josh: I think that’s right. I think if you knew nothing about the Royal Family, it would be a pretty amazing exploration. Particularly in this season, [it’s an] unbelievable exploration of three of the most powerful women in modern history– all alive at the same time, all in power, and all grappling with power. It’s kind of amazing. I mean, if we talk about powerful women across the ages, literally three of the most powerful all existing in the same world, it’s kind of incredible.
The fourth season of The Crown streams on Netflix this Sunday, November 15.