The whole point of the Netflix historical drama, The Crown, is to shed light on the hidden details of some of the most public figures of the 20th century: The Royal Family. So much of the series details the backdoor conversations, scandals, and controversies that plagued the denizens of Buckingham Palace, not to mention those in 10 Downing street and beyond.
That being said, there is a lot left to be uncovered about the actors who brought these main characters to life. While audiences might know a good deal about the real royals, it's their fictional counterparts and performers where the secrets lie.
10 Churchill Was Much Shorter Than John Lithgow
The visage of Sir Winston Churchill is unmistakable. The stare, underbite, hunch, and accessories have become signature aspects of the iconic figure. The task of bringing such a figure to life is daunting, to say the least. Luckily, American actor John Lithgow's performance is a knockout, capturing the former Prime Minister in all his flaws and accolades.
One thing that most audiences might not realize though is the sharp differences between the two men. For one thing, John Lithgow is way taller than Sir Winston Churchill, clocking in at 6'4" while the prime minister was a measly 5'6". Because of this, the recognizable front door of 10 Downing Street had to be increased in size to a ridiculous amount, to keep the portrayal accurate.
9 Churchill Had A Specific Accent
Almost more iconic than his appearance is Churchill's voice. The gravelly yet nasally accent of Winston was one of the first immediately recognized the world over thanks both to the increasingly common use of radio, and Churchill's boisterous personality.
Lithgow had to delve deep to capture the iconic voice. The voice coach on the production assisted all of the actors, not just Lithgow. This was due to the ever-changing British Accent through the decades. Lithgow took it one step further though, stuffing cotton up his nostrils to assist in his vocal characterization.
8 The Age Gap Between Elizabeth And Margaret
Some of the best casting in the series has to go to the duo behind bringing both Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret to life: Claire Foy and Vanessa Kirby. This duo couldn't feel more opposite, with one portraying the practical queen and the other the royal radical.
The two give some of the best performances in the series. What many fans might not know though is they share an aspect of the real sisters' relationship. Claire Foy is four years older than Kirby, which is also the same age gap between the real Elizabeth and Margaret.
7 Churchill Was The Only British Character To Be Portrayed By An American
When it comes to the British series, there are scant Americans to be found. If the role can be filled by a Brit, they will almost always fill it.
While there are Americans throughout the series, Michael C. Hall as JFK for example, only one played a British figure from history. John Lithgow, the beloved American actor, brought Winston Churchill to life. While many fantastic Brits had done so in the past, this Yank did one of the best.
6 The Duke Of Windsor Or The Prince Of Wales?
The Duke of Windsor is one of the most divisive figures in the history of the royal family. Not only did he bring it shame after abdicating the throne for a divorced woman, but he also brought a storm of controversy when his Nazi connections were uncovered.
Alex Jennings brought the disgraced prince to life in the Netflix series, embodying the elitism and complications behind the figure. But, it is not the only royal figure that Jennings has played. He also portrays Prince Charles in Peter Morgan's The Queen. Morgan is the lead writer of The Crown, so it's no wonder there is a bit of spillover in the casting department.
5 Vanessa Kirby Almost Didn't Get To Play Margaret
It is hard to imagine anyone else playing Princess Margaret at this point (even though we can't wait to see Helena Bonham Carter take on the role in Season 3). But, Vanessa Kirby almost lost the part due to some bad skincare choices.
During her screen test, Kirby had applied self-tanner to her ankles. Later, during her audition, she had changed into a skirt that showed off more of her leg, along with the tan lines. The choice almost cost her the job according to Peter Morgan, since it was beyond distracting.
4 Are Those Real Cigarettes?
One of the defining features of Margaret's appearance is her constant smoking. Where Elizabeth is strictly refined, embodying a rigid and disciplined personality, Margaret is the exact opposite. Margaret is the image of 20th-century beauty and sophistication.
From her outfits to her smoking, she is that aesthetic. Only one issue: Kirby doesn't smoke. To keep the aspect included, Kirby smoked herbal cigarettes. This is a fairly common practice. Since smoking is less common nowadays, many actors have to use false cigarettes for may period pieces.
3 Elizabeth & Phillip Had Particular Ways Of Speaking
If Winston Churchill's voice is recognizable, The Queen's is iconic. Nearly anyone can do a decent impersonation of the Queen, embodying an aristocratic aura in a pretty hokey English accent. But to actually capture her definite speech patterns, the cast needed the help of William Conacher.
Conacher, who also assisted Helen Mirren in Peter Morgan's play The Audience, had a specific challenge for Foy and Matt Smith. Even with simple terms such as was, the pair struggled to capture the definite mannerisms. The large vowels, in particular, were a specific challenge.
2 Too Many Queens
It seems like everyone thinks that Britain only has a handful of actors who appear in every single show and film. Well, The Crown certainly doesn't help against that statement. All of The Crown's royal queens have almost all played queens in previous projects.
Claire Foye herself played Anne Boleyn in the series Wolf Hall, wife to Henry VIII. Victoria Hamilton, who portrays the Queen Mother on The Crown, also played Queen Victora in Victoria and Albert, while Eileen Atkins played Queen Mary of Teck before in Bertie and Elizabeth. This tradition will continue with the inclusion fo Olivia Colman, who won the Oscar for her portrayal as Queen Anne in The Favourite.
1 The King Looked A Little Too Sick
One of the most heartbreaking arcs of the series was the slow death of King George VI. The late king died from a battle with laryngeal cancer, one which debilitated his ability to speak. Jared Harris portrayed the monarch on the series, adding a deft and subtlety to the role.
Harris took method acting to a whole other level though with his portrayal. When playing the sick monarch, Harris was suffering from a terrible cold, adding a bit of reality to his ill performance.