In Depth

The Crown season 3: Netflix show announces Matt Smith's replacement

Outlander star Tobias Menzies will take over as Prince Philip

Outlander actor Tobias Menzies has closed a deal to play Prince Philip for season 3 of Netflix’s drama The Crown.

Deadline reports that Menzies has officially signed on for the role for the next two seasons of the show, which details the life of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1940s to modern day. Season 3 is expected to cover the years from 1964 to 1976.

Menzies will be replacing Doctor Who star Matt Smith who played Philip for the show’s first two seasons. The show will feature a new cast of actors for each role every two seasons as the characters age.

The actor will be joining previously announced cast members Olivia Coleman, who will play the Queen (replacing Golden Globe-winner Claire Foy), and Helena Bonham Carter who will replace Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret.

Menzies is best known for his roles in television dramas. He played Brutus in HBO’s Rome, Edmure Tully in Game of Thrones, and the roles of Frank Randall and Black Jack Randall in Outlander. He most recently played the Duke of Cornwall in King Lear alongside Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. He is also currently starring in AMC’s The Terror.

Paul Bettany was originally slated for the role but his deal fell through due to a scheduling conflict, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

14 March

Queen paid less than Prince Philip

The Queen is paid less than Prince Philip – at least as far as Netflix’s hit royal drama The Crown is concerned.

The makers of the series have admitted that Claire Foy, who played the young monarch in the first two seasons, was paid less than Matt Smith who was cast as her husband Prince Philip.

Answering a question at a television conference in Jerusalem yesterday, one of the show’s British producers, Suzanne Mackie, admitted that Smith had been paid more because of his higher-profile following his stint as Doctor Who.

In comparison, Foy was relatively unknown when she took up the role. She went on to win a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild awards for her nuanced portrayal of Britain’s monarch in the 1950s and 1960s. Smith, by comparison, received several nominations, but never bagged an award.

However, “the accolades didn't make a difference for Foy as Smith's salary remained higher for two seasons”, notes The Independent.

The Crown is Netflix’s most expensive in-house production to date, with each episode of the first two seasons costing around $7 million.

According to reports, Foy was paid $40,000 per episode, a figure dwarfed by the salaries of other television stars such as Game of Thrones’ Len Headley, who reportedly rakes in half a million pounds an episode.

Smith’s salary for the series has not been disclosed.

The gender pay gap within Hollywood has become the source of intense controversy in recent years. Forbes’ annual list of Hollywood’s highest paid actors showed the stark disparity between men and women last year. Emma Stone topped the best-paid actress list with $26 million, while Mark Wahlberg was the highest paid man with $68 million in estimated annual earnings.

Mackie has promised the gender pay gap will be addressed in future seasons for The Crown, saying: “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen.”

“However, that will not help Foy” says the Daily Telegraph, as she and Smith have completed their two series of the drama, with their roles recast with older actors for next season.

Netflix has already confirmed Olivia Colman will play the Queen in series three with Helena Bonham-Carter cast as her sister Princess Margaret. Bookmakers have placed Hugh Laurie as frontrunner to take on the part of Prince Philip.

Hugh Laurie favourite to play Prince Philip

13 March

Hugh Laurie has been tipped to replace Matt Smith as Prince Philip in the next two seasons of The Crown.

Casting for the third season of Netflix’s hit royal drama is still ongoing, but the show’s creator Peter Morgan is said to be “very keen” for Laurie to portray the Duke of Edinburgh in middle age, the Mail on Sunday reports. 

Showrunners have already confirmed that Olivia Colman will replace Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, and Helena Bonham Carter will play Princess Margaret.

Laurie’s name “has been swirling around for a long while now and it hasn’t yet stopped – he is the sort of big name that would draw in viewers,” an insider told the newspaper.

“He and Olivia were formidable on The Night Manager and bosses of The Crown would love to recreate that,” the source added. “Other actors have been considered, but Hugh is viewed as the perfect choice.”

The 58-year-old actor, best known for his role as Dr Gregory House in US medical drama House and his comedic work with Stephen Fry, “certainly has the acting chops” to appear alongside Colman and Bonham Carter, Marie Claire says.

Here are some of the other contenders, rumoured to still be in the running for the role:

David Tennant, 46

A case of one Time Lord replacing another, the casting of Tennant would be decidedly apt and welcomed by fans. Newsweek says the Scottish-born actor also has “irresistible onscreen chemistry” with his would-be co-star Olivia Coleman from their time on ITV’s murder-mystery drama Broadchurch.

Paul Bettany, 46

While Bettany has had a somewhat mixed career, he rarely turns in a bad performance and has recently won rave reviews for his or his portrayal of another historical figure, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, in Neflix’s Manhunt: Unabomber.

His gaunt looks and upright bearing take him half way to Philip's physical presence, which certainly helps, “and given the chance, Bettany would certainly be able to bring out the Duke's charming, playful side – that is, if his clearly unreliable agent can land him an audition”, says the Telegraph.

Ralph Fiennes, 55

One of the best and best-loved actors of his generation, Fiennes is also one the most versatile, just as at ease playing a psychopathic Nazi concentration camp commandant in Schindler’s List as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter or unflappable hotelier Monsieur Gustave in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

He would be a physical match for Prince Philip and though the wrong side of 50 would give the role a maturity others on the list would not. He is also, fittingly, a direct descendant of King James II of Scotland, making him eighth cousins with Prince Charles. However, the 13-year age gap between him and Colman could prove an obstacle (the real gap is only five years) meaning he may have to hold out for season 5 when the cast will change again.

Jude Law, 44

A bona fide Hollywood A-lister who would give the show a dose of star quality, Law recently took on his first major TV role, playing the title role in The Young Pope.

His character was the fictional Pope Pius XIII, a chain-smoking, Diet Coke-swilling American who rocked the Catholic Church with his program of modernisation – “a character not completely dissimilar from Prince Philip, the Greek who revolutionised the British monarchy”, says The Daily Express.

However, with the upcoming Fantastic Beasts sequel and a third Sherlock Holmes blockbuster on the way, his busy Hollywood schedule could make him difficult to tie down for two seasons, especially with the Crown’s extended shooting period.

Matthew Macfadyen, 43

Less well known than some on the list, the Norfolk-born actor is made name for himself in Spooks and Ripper Street. A period drama and TV veteran, “he’s always managed to make his roles still feel contemporary”, says Radio Times. The Crown could do with that sleight of hand.

Outside contenders

Benedict Cumberbatch, 41: Linked with seemingly every role under the run, the Sherlock star would certainly attract the viewers.

Jason Isaacs, 54: Best known for playing Harry Potter villain Lucius Malfoy, Isaacs would give the prince a definite edge, although his roles in two ongoing Netflix series could make him too busy.

Ioan Gruffudd, 44: The former Hornblower star certainly has what it takes to make the role his own and has dominated TV audiences over the past year with edge-of-the-seat drama Liar. Would need contact lenses and a lot of bleach to transform into Prince Philip though.

Rupert Penry-Jones, 47: A perfect physical match for the 45-year old prince, Penry-Jones has experience playing suave alpha males, first in Spooks, then in legal drama Silk and finally as an east end detective in Whitechapel.

Helena Bonham Carter tipped to play Princess Margaret

15 January

Helena Bonham Carter has been heavily tipped to play Princess Margaret in season three of Netflix royal biopic The Crown.

Vanessa Kirby, who has played the tearaway princess in the first two seasons of the drama, sent the rumour mill into overdrive by uploading a photo of herself and Bonham Carter to Instagram, captioned “Honoured”.

Scriptwriter Peter Morgan’s vision for the reign-spanning series entails six seasons, with the main cast changing every two seasons as the characters age.

Broadchurch and Peep Show star Olivia Colman has already been signed on to replace Claire Foy, whose performance of a young monarch learning the ropes has been widely praised.

“I’m just full of fear because you don’t want to be the one who screws it up,” Colman told the Radio Times in November, saying she was “ridiculously excited” to be taking over the crown and sceptre from Foy.

No replacement has yet been announced for Matt Smith, whose interpretation of a young Prince Philip won critical accolades.

A release date for season 3 is also a while off, for - as Variety points out - seasons three and four have not been officially ordered by Netflix, although “early production is said to be underway”.

The Crown season 2: reviews round-up

22 November

The second season of Netlfix’s lavish £100m royal drama The Crown airs tomorrow and while many reviews have chosen to focus on the quality of the acting performances, the death this week of Christine Keeler, the women at the centre of the Profumo scandal, has focused fresh attention on how the show depicts one of the most notorious events of the 1960s.

And it may just prove to be one of the most contentious of the whole season. According to the Daily Telegraph, the season finale “heavily implies” the royal family were drawn into the orbit of the scandal that brought down Harold Macmillan’s government.

It suggests Prince Philip was a guest at a lavish house party in 1963 attended by Keeler and then secretary of state for war John Profumo. The show also implies Philip may have been the “mystery man” glimpsed in a photo with the 19-year-old model shortly before news of the affair broke.

However, “despite the odd whiff of unearthed skeletons,” the Telegraph’s TV critic Ben Lawrence said “The Crown is likely to only strengthen the Windsors’ reputation across the globe.”

Here's what other critics made of the new season:

Costing an estimated £100m, the second series begins with the political turmoil of the Suez Crisis in 1956 and ends after the assassination of John F. Kennedy with the election of Labour’s Harold Wilson and the start of the Swinging Sixties.

Yet even if it covered tumultuous times, “series two has slightly less to say than the first,” says Ben Lawrence in the Daily Telegraph.

“A particularly rocky first episode doesn’t help quell doubts the show is struggling to find its footing after completing Elizabeth’s rise to reluctant power” says Metro.

Indiewire agrees, arguing that while the new series is an altogether “darker” portrayal of the personal and political turmoil that engulfs the royal family, “its voiceless neutrality breeds an even colder, more distant, and altogether less engaging set of history accounts”.

At the heart of the problem is the decision by showrunner Peter Morgan to consistently relegate the Queen to the role of a mere pawn in the lives of other, giving The Crown “a general sense of limpness” at its very centre, says Clarisse Loughrey in The Independent.

It may “lack cohesion” says the Metro, but Foy’s “career-best performance is a enough to carry you through the rough patches”, a view shared by Entertainment Weekly, which admits its “greatest strength once again is in the casting”.

That is not to say the show shies away from controversial subject matter; from rumours of Philip’s illicit affairs to the sexual scandals of Princess Margaret, but by portraying Elizabeth’s royal position as a largely passive one, The Crown “makes for a meandering and unfocused approach to the era that seems to actively ignore its most fascinating asset” says Loughrey.

All in all, fans of the first season will be generally satisfied, but as it prepares for a major cast reboot the show's crowning glory may already be in the past.

The Crown Season 2 is released on Netflix on 8 December

The Crown Season 2: what do we know and when will it air?

12 September

Netflix’s £100m award-winning royal drama The Crown returns later this year. Find out everything you need to know about the highly anticipated second season.

 

When will it air?

 

Filming began back in February and wrapped up last month with Netflix confirming that the second season will be available just in time for Christmas.

 

Like most Netflix originals all of Season Two’s 10 episodes will be available in their entirety on 8 December.

 

Who will be in it?

 

Clair Foy will return as Queen Elizabeth after her award-winning portrayal of the young monarch. Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith also reprises his role as Prince Phillip as does Jeremy Northam as the Prime Minister Anthony Eden.

 

Among new faces joining the cast are Matthew Goode as the photographer Antony Armstrong Jones – the future husband of Princess Margaret and Earl of Snowden - and Dexter’s Michael C. Hall as President John F. Kennedy.

 

One potential absentee from the line-up is John Lithgow, who won a series of awards for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the first season.

 

What period will it cover?

 

Showrunner and writer Peter Morgan has previously said that each set of 10 episodes will cover roughly a decade, with the years from the Suez crisis in 1956 to the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination, the election of Harold Wilson’s Labour government and the start of the Swinging Sixties in 1964 set to fall within season two’s timeline.

 

What will it be about?

 

While the first season focused squarely on Queen Elizabeth, “the new run will place the spotlight on Philip and his relationship with his son”, says The Independent.

 

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Foy said the “the first series was very much about the family and her finding her role after her father died and coming into her own, and this second series is very much about the outside world”.

 

“It’s very much about Philip and his impact on the crown, and their marriage. It’s about Margaret and Tony Armstrong-Jones... It’s very much the outside world, and the ‘60s, and sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and stuff that really you would not associate with the Queen of England” she said.

 

Other clues from the first trailer which debuted on Entertainment Weekly last month suggest the plot will also touch on Prince Philips’s alleged extra-marital affairs with the actress Pat Kirkwood and TV personality Katie Boyle – all of which were denied at the time.

 

Morgan also said that there will be a stronger focus on the young Prince Charles and on Philip and his backstory.

 

How much will it cost?

 

The first season had a much-publicised £100 million price tag. Working out at roughly £10 million an episode it was Netflix’s most expensive original production to date with a similar budget expected for the second season.

 

Despite its hefty price tag, the video screaming service’s gamble “appears to have paid off in both audience love and critical acclaim”, says CNN.

 

Foy scored both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for best actress in a drama series, and the show took home a Golden Globe for best TV series, drama last year.

 

What about Season 3?

 

Obviously with the season two yet to air details about the third are sketchy, apart from a rough idea of the years and events they will cover.

 

Two actors who will definitely not be returning will be Foy and Smith themselves after Morgan confirmed that the Queen, Prince Philip and other royals will be recast for seasons three and four to account for the characters’ advancing ages.

 

He told ScreenDaily: “I feel that when we reach 1963-64 we’ve gone as far as we can go with Claire Foy without having to do silly things in terms of makeup to make her look older”.

 

“She can’t help the fact she’s as young as she is”.

 

As to who could replace Foy after her Golden Globe-winning  performance, Morgan has confirmed that that “conversations” were already underway; with Helen Mirren and Kristin Scott Thomas, who both played the Queen in his play The Audience, surely top of the list says Digital Spy.

The Crown: Is Netflix's £100m royal drama any good?

4 November 2016

Netflix's highly anticipated series The Crown, a dramatization of the early adulthood of Queen Elizabeth, has now arrived on the streaming service.

Wolf Hall's Claire Foy plays the young Elizabeth while former Doctor Who actor Matt Smith stars as Prince Philip. They are joined by Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Mother, Jared Harris as King George VI and John Lithgow as Winston Churchill.

The historical drama, which reportedly cost £100m to produce, starts with the wedding of Princess Elizabeth in 1947 before turning to the death of her father and her first few years on the throne. 

Episode one is a "magnificent achievement", writes Gabriel Tate in the Daily Telegraph. Many wondered whether a drama about a still-living monarch was in good taste, he says, but Peter Morgan's script avoids both sensationalism and hagiography of its subject, "allowing himself dramatic licence without wandering into the realms of outright fantasy".

The AV Club's Gwen Ihnat agrees, saying The Crown takes a "more sombre, historical bent" than recent hit period dramas such as Downton Abbey. Eschewing the potential for a frothy and frivolous take on life inside Buckingham Palace, the show draws a sensitive portrait of Elizabeth's path towards the throne, "expertly fleshed out with actual events", she writes.

Morgan, who also wrote the 2006 film The Queen, has already sold Netflix two series of The Crown and has plans for four more, taking the story into the second half of the 20th century.

However, as the ten episodes roll on, "a question begins to loom over the proceedings", says Slate's Willa Paskin. "Does Queen Elizabeth really warrant 20 to 60 hours of television?"

The Crown focuses heavily on the Queen's devotion to duty and commendable as it may be, Paskin writes, a role that demands her to "do nothing, say nothing, and be seen to feel nothing about the earthly political matters of the day" doesn't exactly make for gripping drama.

He adds that even the appealingly sumptuous backdrop of ballrooms and hunting parties can't obscure the suspicion that Morgan has "mistaken setting for story".

The Guardian's Julia Raeside, meanwhile, argues the heavy amount of exposition included for the benefit of international audiences means characters occasionally "speak to each other like nurses on an amnesia ward".

Nevertheless, she adds, it is "a huge, ocean-going blockbuster shot in multiple stunning locations, starring superb actors in the most beautiful costumes". What more could a period drama fan want?

When does The Crown come to Netflix and will it be a hit?

24 October

Netflix has unveiled a new trailer for The Crown, the most expensive television series ever produced, but can it live up to the ambitions of the streaming service?

Created and written by Peter Morgan (The Queen and The Audience), the ten-part drama, which has a reported budget of £75m, chronicles the early years of the Queen's reign.

It features Wolf Hall star Claire Foy and former Doctor Who Matt Smith, who play the young Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, facing the challenges of Elizabeth's new role as monarch and their own young marriage.

What can we expect?

Morgan drew on his hit play The Audience for the series and aims to follow a similar timeline to the stage version, which examines the Queen's exchanges with a succession of prime ministers, her brushes with national and world events and the challenges of her personal life.

Two trailers released by Netflix show Prince Philip struggling to get used to his dual roles as Elizabeth's husband and subject. In the first trailer, he asks his 25-year-old wife to exempt him from having to bow to her, something she resolutely refuses. "Are you my wife or my queen?" he asks. "I am both – and a strong man would be able to kneel to both," Elizabeth says.  

In the second trailer, he rebuffs his wife again, telling her: "You've taken my career from me, you've taken my home, you've taken my name. I thought we were in this together."

Elizabeth is also seen coming to terms with her own role as Queen, at one point acknowledging that many people around her think they could do a better job.

Who else is in the show?

The Crown also stars John Lithgow as Sir Winston Churchill, Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Mother and Jared Harris as George VI. Vanessa Kirby plays Princess Margaret, who is seen falling in love with Peter Townsend, a divorcee 16 years her senior, played by Ben Miles. Executive producer Stephen Daldry says: "It's the story of this extraordinary family under extraordinary pressure trying to survive."

When does it start?

Netflix will release the full series on Friday 4 November.

Will there be more?

The show has been commissioned for six series, but it is not yet clear yet whether Foy will play the Queen throughout her life or whether other actresses will play older versions of the monarch.

Netflix has big ambitions for the show, with the streaming site's chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, describing it as "brand-defining and tentpole".

He added: "[The Crown] is produced to a scale that I don't think many networks could step up to. Because our audience is large and global and the story is incredibly local, we can invest heavily in a project like that."

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