Imelda Staunton on playing Queen Elizabeth in The Crown: ‘It felt very present’

Imelda Staunton On Playing Queen Elizabeth In The Crown: ‘It Felt Very Present’
Actress Imelda Staunton, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Naomi Clarke, PA Entertainment Reporter

Imelda Staunton has said she felt “a bit more pressure” portraying the late Queen Elizabeth in the final episode of The Crown as the scenes felt “very present”.

The veteran actress, 67, portrays the former monarch in the final two series of the hit Netflix royal drama, which dramatises events that occurred within the British royal family during the 1990s to the early noughties, including the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.


The final part of the sixth series was released on Thursday, with critics offering a tepid reaction to the episodes.

Imelda Staunton as the Queen in Netflix series The Crown (Netflix/PA)

Reflecting on her role on The Graham Norton Show, she said: “Everyone knows this version of her, so it felt very present, and I felt a bit more pressure.


“In this final six episodes there are particular issues that she faced at this point in her reign, which dramatically is interesting to play – Margaret has gone, The Queen Mother, and we have Charles and Camilla.”

The second instalment sees the Queen reflect on the future of the monarchy as she reaches her Golden Jubilee, Charles and Camilla getting married, and a romance blossoming between William and Kate.

The first part, which was released in November, centred around the immediate events before Diana’s death in 1997 and her funeral.



Staunton revealed she listened to the late Queen’s national address following the princess’ death “every moment of every day” before filming the significant scene.

She added: “When we came to do it, I didn’t talk to anyone because it was a very serious moment and a serious time, and I thought I would try and recreate that.

“It was very still on set, and I got lost in the moment.”

Staunton had been filming scenes as Queen Elizabeth II for the Netflix show when the the monarch died last September, alongside actress Lesley Manville, who portrays Princess Margaret in the later series.


Recalling the experience, she said: “Lesley Manville and I were filming and were told there might be some sad news and were asked if we wanted to carry on.

“We carried on and finished the day. Weirdly in the schedule I had 10 days off which was the 10 days of mourning.

“I was inconsolable that night. Obviously, I would have been sad, but I think it was fuelled by living with her for so long.

“I think when I went back to work people found it hard looking at me.”

Graham Norton Show – London
Imelda Staunton, Jamie Dornan and Jack Lowden on the Graham Norton Show (Ian West/PA)

Staunton followed in the footsteps of Claire Foy and Olivia Colman who played younger versions of Queen Elizabeth in the show.

Earlier this year, she was nominated for a Bafta, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal.

Joining Staunton on The Graham Norton sofa was Northern Irish star Jamie Dornan, Scottish actor Jack Lowden, new Doctor Who Ncuti Gatwa and American singer songwriter Gregory Porter.

The Graham Norton Show will air on BBC One on Friday, December 15th at 10.40pm and the final episodes on The Crown are streaming on Netflix now.

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