Changing The Crown actors every 2 years is 'really clever'

Season 2 of The Crown, which premieres Dec. 8 on Netflix, digs into the 1950s and 1960s, showing the Royal Family grappling with independence and tradition during an era of conflict.

Returning series delves into 1960s, as Royal Family battles political instability, archaic traditions

Claire Foy (as Queen Elizabeth II) and Matt Smith (as Prince Philip) return in The Crown, which premieres its second season on Dec. 8. (Robert Viglasky/Netflix)

Season two of the acclaimed series The Crown depicts the British Royal Family in a time of conflict both inside and outside the palace — with growing social revolution a metaphor for the personal struggles facing the Royals.

"Philip goes on tour and wrestles with his inner demons, and so does Margaret," Vanessa Kirby, who plays Princess Margaret on the series, told CBC News during an interview in Los Angeles.

Actors from The Crown sit down for a playful interview with CBC's Zulekha Nathoo

5 years ago
Duration 1:49
Matt Smith and Vanessa Kirby discuss Season 2 of the acclaimed Netflix series about the Royal Family

The result is a sequence of defining moments from the 1950s and 1960s — whirlwind historical snapshots involving the Suez crisis, Ghana's call for independence and the allure of the Kennedys — intertwined with intimate depictions of marital struggles, sibling rivalry and infidelity.

"You see the whole set up to the characters in the first season, and season two has given us an opportunity to really go deeper," Kirby said.

The intense interest with which royal watchers, tabloids and even bookies have followed Prince Harry's romance with now-fiancée Meghan Markle, in addition to the news of baby number three for Prince William and Kate, is proof of an insatiable royal fascination.

So even though many of its private conversations are dramatized, The Crown seems to offer a grounded glimpse into a world most of us would otherwise never know.

The show, which stars Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II and Matt Smith as Prince Philip in their younger days, has been a hit with critics. The first season won a 2017 Golden Globe for best drama series, while Foy took home the award for best actress in a TV drama.

Claire Foy won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown. (Mark Mainz/Netflix)

But that doesn't mean she's sticking around.

Though The Crown has been renewed for a third season, Foy, 33, and Smith, 35, are being replaced rather than aged to fit the next era. Olivia Colman, known for her roles in The Lobster and The Night Manager, will take over duties as the Queen.

The turnover is welcome, Smith noted, since "it's very difficult to retain an actor who's interested over six seasons."

Swapping in new actors, rather than dramatically aging the existing stars going forward, is a good thing 'for the longevity of the show,' says Matt Smith, seen at left with The Crown writer and creator Peter Morgan and co-star Foy. (Alex Bailey/Netflix)

"I think it's a good thing for the show, though, for the longevity of the show," he continued.

"If this show is to work in the way that I think it could, changing the actors every two years is a really clever idea."

The Crown's second season premieres on Netflix on Dec. 8.