Olivia Colman has long been regarded as acting royalty, but the Broadchurch star is definitely in a regal phase of her career. She’s earning rave reviews — and Oscar-nom chatter — for her portrayal of 18th-century monarch Queen Anne in The Favourite. And next she’ll star as Queen Elizabeth II on the third season of Netflix’s The Crown, which premieres in 2019. “It’s in my contract now — I’ll only play queens!” says Colman.
Claire Foy starred as Elizabeth in the show’s first two seasons, which covered 1947–64. Season 3 takes us up to 1976, with a completely new cast due to the aging of the characters. Tobias Menzies (Outlander) has stepped in for Matt Smith as Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, while Helena Bonham Carter has taken over for Vanessa Kirby as her sister, Princess Margaret. “Helena doesn’t look like Vanessa, but the spirit is so similar,” showrunner Peter Morgan tells EW.
Season 3 will cover the rise of new Prime Minister Harold Wilson (Jason Watkins) and the deteriorating marriage of Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones (The Exorcist’s Ben Daniels), among other historical chapters. We’ll also meet adult versions of Prince Charles and Princess Anne, played by relative unknowns Josh O’Connor and Erin Doherty. “They both feel like real discoveries,” says Morgan.
Like Foy, Colman will portray Elizabeth for two seasons. But has playing royals already gone to her head? Does she expect people to curtsy when she enters a room? “Yes,” says Colman, with a smile. “I give people a clip round the ear if they don’t!”
See exclusive images from season 3 of The Crown, above and below.