When #TheCrown dropped on #Netflix, the ambitious TV series swiftly became one of the most talked-about shows of 2016. Giving us an all-access pass to the gilded world of the British royal family from the comfort of our own sofas, the series revealed the dramatic events, political tensions and fraught, personal relationships surrounding Queen Elizabeth II and her world-famous family.
If you haven't done so already, check out the trailer for The Crown below:
There's no doubt about it – as it stands right now, The Crown is certainly the most precious jewel in Netflix's treasured tiara. Yet, alongside the familiar faces bringing the British monarchy to life, and the fact that the drama is considered to be one of the most expensive ever made, how much do we really know about what went on behind-the-scenes during the filming of The Crown? Thankfully, the following facts will get you up to speed:
1. The Royal Family Were 'Nervous' About The Netflix Show
According to the writer of The Crown, Peter Morgan (who also penned 2006 movie The Queen starring Helen Mirren), the royal family were somewhat anxious about the release of the TV series. Although we've had no official statement from them, he did reveal:
“I think they are both very nervous and very excited. I don’t think they like not having control but they also understand that [a drama] dealing with this subject with respect is a rare thing."
However, no matter what the Queen might think, she certainly can't do anything about the show's release and any of its future seasons — she was the one who actually abolished the laws preventing royal family theatrical depictions way back in 1968.
2. Matt Smith Wore A Hair Piece
For his role of Prince Philip, the hair and makeup team decided to make actor Matt Smith wear a hairpiece, rather than dye his hair blonde. Between every scene, his wig had to be adjusted.
3. The Crown Drafted In A Royal Specialist
In order to ensure that the producers got their facts straight when it came to representing the most influential royal family in the world, The Crown asked royal specialist Major David Rankin-Hunt to help the show-runners portray the correct etiquettes and formalities at the heart of court life.
Rankin-Hunt has worked for the royal family for over three decades — including in the Lord Chamberlain's Office and with the Royal Collection — so he really knows his stuff.
4. Claire Foy Was Breastfeeding During Filming
When she was five months pregnant, Claire Foy was asked to audition for the role of Her Majesty. Back then, she explains:
"I thought: ‘Hell, I can’t not go to the audition. It would be the biggest role I’ve ever done.’”
After snapping up the part, she gave birth just before production began and The Crown had to fit filming around the actress's baby feeding schedule. A member of the production team recently revealed:
"Claire was breastfeeding, her chaperones were constantly rushing off to bring bottles to supplement her, and the whole schedule was shot around her timing for the breast feeding. It was crazy."
5. Identical Twin Sisters Were Used For The Role Of Young Princess Anne
Due to restriction on how long young children could be on set, two identical sisters were cast to bring little Princess Anne to the Netflix streaming portal.
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6. John Lithgow Doubted his Ability To Bring Winston Churchill To Life
Despite having taken on a myriad of challenging roles over his acting career, legendary British actor John Lithgow still found it daunting to take Winston Churchill to the small screen. He explained why:
"I was a bit scared playing Winston Churchill. The responsibility’s huge, especially working with an English cast such as Claire Foy playing the Queen. Also, makeup and wardrobe were considerations. I’m 225 and 6-foot-4, a foot taller. My weight and width don’t mix with his. I wore a fat suit."
He then added:
“When I was cast I was surprised. Excited. Also scared. I knew I wouldn’t do any imitation. With five months to prepare before filming, I heard audios, watched videos, studied books about him. I realized his private life was opposite to his public life. With childhood loneliness and familial neglect, he was a misfit as a child. This great man suffered insecurity and depression. There were two different Churchills.”
7. The Crew Wasn't Allowed To Use Westminster Abbey As A Location
Filming location scouts worked hard to get permission to use Westminster Abbey but were repeatedly denied the honor. Producer Andrew Eaton spoke of the frustration, saying:
"In theory, as taxpayers, we all probably pay for some of the upkeep of Westminster Abbey, so it seemed daft that we couldn’t go in there."
Instead, The Crown producers turned to Ely Cathedral as a stand-in to bring to life the vibrant Coronation scenes.
8. Vanessa Kirby Dedicated All Her Free Time To Getting To Know Princess Margaret
The actress has openly admitted that before she stepped into the regal role of Margaret, she didn't actually know that much about the Queen's only sister:
"I knew that she died quite tragically, was a bit of an alcoholic, smoked a lot and had lots of affairs... but that was it."
As a result, Kirby took it upon herself to learn as much as possible about the woman behind her role, buying "every book written about her" and listening to Margaret's 1981 episode of Desert Island Discs every day during the filming of The Crown.
What behind-the-scenes fact about The Crown did you find the most interesting?
(Sources: Page Six)