“The Crown” series finale premiere in London on Tuesday evening brought out the cast and creatives behind the hit Netflix show as well as a smattering of other familiar faces keen to catch a sneak peek of the last-ever episode of the hit series.
Imelda Staunton, who plays the last iteration of Queen Elizabeth II in the fifth and sixth seasons of the show, led the red carpet. Despite the chaos around her – from reporters clamoring to ask questions to photographers shouting her name – the star told Variety her focus had always been on the character.
“I don’t look at maelstrom,” she said. “It doesn’t interest me. I just look at the script, look at the part, go to work.”
Newcomer Meg Bellamy, who joined the series as a college-age Kate Middleton for Season 6, was more emotional about getting the part, which also happened to be her first ever professional acting job.
“Oh my gosh, incredible, all the feelings,” she said of nabbing the role. “Excitement, fear. I did a lot of crying.”
Although the real Kate – now known as the Duchess of Cambridge – has been criticized in the press for being “bland,” Bellamy didn’t have trouble getting into the role. “What makes people connect to her is her personability,” the actor told Variety. “She’s so approachable, and I think that’s a great energy to have. She’s never flustered.”
There was one trick Bellamy revealed that helped her process: animal work.
“We kind of worked at looking at setter dogs because they’re very active and Kate is very sporty and always on the ball,” Bellamy explained. “But [they] also have this amazing hair and are very aware of themselves in an amazing way. So that was weirdly useful and surprising in terms of my research.”
Among the former cast who returned to celebrate the finale were Greg Wise, who played Lord Mountbatten in the first two seasons of the show; Emma Corrin, who played a young Princess Diana; Erin Doherty, who played a young Princess Anne; and Gillian Anderson, who played former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
While the “X-Files” star was initially seen as a surprising choice to play the frumpy politician, the casting was the brainchild of “The Crown” creator (and Anderson’s partner) Peter Morgan. On the red carpet, Anderson said she hadn’t been offended by Morgan’s suggestion.
“I wasn’t [offended] because I understood what he meant. I understood what aspect of myself he might be reminded of Thatcher in in a way,” Anderson told Variety. “When you’re an actor, if there’s something that on the outside seems like it’s the antithesis of — or like it would be a strange thing — for somebody to see, it does feel like a compliment.”
“I had so much fun,” she said of the playing the part.
Also spotted at the celebration were “Gangs of London” actor Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, who said he was there to support friends, “Black Mirror” creator Charlie Brooker and Netflix’s chief content officer Bela Bajaria.
Clad in black tie, showrunner Peter Morgan said he felt “proud and happy” that he’d finally reached the end of the epic series but also “sad because I’ll miss all the people I’ve been working with and I’ll miss the scale of the show,” he said.
Morgan added that he will always value working with the three actors who played Queen Elizabeth: Claire Foy in the first two seasons, followed by Olivia Colman and then finally Staunton.
“I fell in love with each queen that I was working with,” Morgan told Variety. “So I suppose ultimately the overarching memory will be how close I felt to each one of those three women that I was writing for for each of those couples of seasons they were involved in.”
Despite the bittersweet emotion, Morgan confirmed he is definitely done with the series, the final six episodes of which drop on Dec. 14. While the first four episodes, which dropped last month, cover the last weeks of Princess Diana’s life, the second half of the season will focus on her sons, Princes William and Harry, as well as their father Prince Charles’s blossoming relationship with his former mistress (and now wife) Camilla Parker Bowles, as well as Queen Elizabeth’s struggle to balance her family and the throne.
Ed McVey, who joins the series as Prince William, said he never thought about his real-life counterpart watching the show.
“If I was to think [about him watching] that would be too much,” he told Variety. “I was able to separate the two and Peter wrote such an incredible character that had so much meat to it so I was able to get into that and able to block out all the other stuff that could have been more distracting.”
The appearance of real paparazzi during production of “The Crown” in Scotland – eager to catch a glimpse of McVey and Bellamy re-enacting William and Kate’s romance at St. Andrews University – gave the actor a first-hand look at what life is like for the royals: “That’s what a lot of William’s life was like at that time and that’s what we go through in the show a little bit… So to have an understanding of what that feels like as an actor — it was helpful because it’s strange.”
Luther Ford, who plays William’s brother Harry, agreed that stepping into the prince’s shoes had given him empathy for both Harry and his wife Meghan, who took a step back from the royal family in 2020: “It’s your job in a way to have empathy for these people and you spend so much time thinking about them and imagining them behind closed doors in a way that we don’t know them.”
But for those hoping for a “Crown” spin-off show about Meghan and Harry living it up in California, don’t hold your breath. When asked whether he’s been pestering Morgan about a spin-off, Ford had one response: “No.”