Jonathan Pryce is defending The Crown amid criticism that Netflix's royal drama is "exploitative" and "inaccurate." The veteran actor, who plays the late Prince Philip in the upcoming fifth season, tells EW that he wouldn't have agreed to participate in the show if he thought it contained "any hint of disrespect or anything unjust towards the royal family."
Created by Peter Morgan, The Crown is set to detail the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in season 5, which has come under fire from many quarters ahead of next month's premiere. In September, Britain's Daily Telegraph, the most pro-royal of the U.K.'s broadsheet newspapers, published an article headlined "The Crown's decision to show 'all-out' war between Charles and Diana raises concerns at Palace." The paper quoted a friend of the new King who called the show "exploitative" and said Netflix would have "no qualms about mangling people's reputations." A few weeks later, Dame Judi Dench blasted The Crown in a strongly worded open letter to the British newspaper The Times for what the actress claimed was the show's "crude sensationalism" and "inaccurate and harmful account of history." (Netflix subsequently added a disclaimer to the season 5 trailer.)
But Pryce says detractors should wait and see for themselves. "I just find it very disappointing that a handful of people, and it is a handful of people, are being critical of this in any way without having seen it," he says. "I mean, they say it's hurtful, unjust, dangerous — none of those things I see in this production. I don't think any of us do. And as Lesley [Manville] has said in the recent past, she wouldn't and I wouldn't be involved in it if we thought there was any hint of disrespect or anything unjust towards the royal family. It's a thing that's being stirred up by the press."
Netflix Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce on 'The Crown'
In addition to Manville, who plays Princess Margaret, Pryce's season 5 costars include Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II, Dominic West as Prince Charles, and Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana.
For his part, Pryce he was "delighted" to be cast as Philip. "I'd seen the whole series from the beginning," he says. "So I was delighted. Very happy. And the great thing was, Imelda had already been cast, so I knew who was playing the Queen and I was really happy it was Imelda. We have a friendship going over 30 years, [from] when we first worked together on stage. Prince Philip, all I really know about him is what I read in the newspapers, and it's never very flattering. And then to do the research, and obviously Peter's done the research, and [you] discover that he was nothing like the man you thought he was. He was an intellectual, highly intelligent, [he had a] great interest in everything, scientific or things to do with the natural world, and a man with a great sense of humor, and a great deal of compassion, and a wonderful loving relationship with his wife."
The Crown season 5 premieres Nov. 9 on Netflix.
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