“Through untraceable back channels, countless approaches have been made in a way that protects both sides,” he said of efforts to liaison between the subjects and the series. “I want my independence. I don’t want in any way to be affiliated with the palace,” he said, adding that he has the sense “from the palace” that “they are nervous and excited” and “don’t like not having control.”
“These are people who are used to slander, cartoons and satire…they are not people used to being taken seriously” in the media, he said, adding that it’s the “only worthwhile way of looking at our recent history.”
The Crown starts, Morgan said, with Elizabeth “assuming, quite reasonably, that she has a long time before her father dies,” the Windsor family members having a tradition of living a long time. “She could have reasonably expected 20 or 30 years as a woman married to a navel officer, and for Phillip to have a career, and to live somewhat out of the public eye.” Instead, her father died in his 50’s, and the crown lands on her head, much sooner than she had imagined. The central narrative of the first season is the impact on her. “We all imagine it’s a fairy tale; it’s anything but,” Morgan said.
John Lithgow was cast as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Morgan said, because “there comes a point where every knight of the realm does his Winston Churchill and there’s a little Churchill fatigue on our little island.” Casting an American actor “was a fresh and daring idea,” he said, saying it gave the project “dividends and benefits” immediately, he beamed.
Asked if he thought the recent Brexit vote in which the UK voted to leave the European Union would impact viewers’ take on the subject and the queen, Morgan called the vote “great box office for her.”
Since the “riveting” vote, British citizens have “on a daily basis started interpreting what it means to be British,” he reported.
“Immediately after Brexit, it felt like our country was having a nervous breakdown.” An “entire generation and class was focused only on itself and, with that, on its own destruction.”
“I don’t think Britain is alone in this extraordinary crisis of leadership,” Morgan continued. “A moment like that…does make you look at someone” who gave up what their personal life “and accepted the responsibility of their duty.” He speculated Elizabeth would “probably” have voted for Brexit – except she does not vote.
Lithgow called dibs on playing British politician Boris Johnson (one of the most vocal voices in the UK’s Leave campaign), in Morgan’s adaptation of the current moment in British history.
In April, Netflix set the worldwide premiere of its Stephen Daldry-directed drama The Crown for November 4. Written by Morgan and produced by Andy Morgan, The Crown stars Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, a 25-year-old newlywed leading the British monarchy and forging a relationship with Churchill (Lithgow). Matt Smith, Victoria Hamilton, Jared Harris, Vanessa Kirby and Eileen Atkins also star in the 10-episode series that goes behind the scenes in Westminster and Buckingham Palace to look at events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.