Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown; Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen
Before there was The Crown, there was The Queen, the Peter Morgan-penned film starring Helen Mirren in an Oscar-winning turn as Queen Elizabeth II. Since then, Morgan has added a number of other Queens Elizabeth to his roster, including Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, and now Imelda Staunton. But you know what they say: you never really get over your first queen.
In an interview with The New York Times, Morgan admits that there was “obviously the Helen Mirren question for this final part of the series.” But apparently he and Mirren—who collaborated on the role a second time for his 2013 play The Audience—both agreed that it would be “good to have someone different.”
He tells the outlet that “there was only one other person” in mind as his first choice for his second choice. “Imelda was very much my idea. There is an accessibility, an everywoman-ness to her that is incredibly valuable for the part. There is vulnerability and strength wrapped up, a quiet regality, and yet no grandeur.”
Morgan has had a lot of luck with dream casting. He kept this season’s Princess Diana, Elizabeth Debicki, in his back pocket for years after she auditioned for a cameo in the second season, telling her even then that she was a top candidate for the people’s princess. “It was a list of one. Had she said no, I might have had to reconceive the entire show,” he said of that role.
Of course, you can’t always get everything you want, at least according to the rumor that Dame Judi Dench was in talks to play the Queen Mother. Dench did not play the part, and instead talked some smack on the show in the press. Morgan obviously disagrees with the backlash to the Netflix series, telling the NYT that “contrary to what The Daily Mail suggests, I feel very responsible about writing about this, almost as a historian.” Plus, he says, “In the light of the queen’s death, it’s easy for us to channel our profound affection for her to Imelda.” God save all the Queens.
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