The producers of The Crown, Netflix’s Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning series about the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, sat down with Deadline’s Peter White today in Jerusalem for a chat about the drama’s success and what’s to come. They also confirmed that “going forward, it’s really important for the Queen to be paid more.”
The remark was in response to a question about gender pay equality. Executive producer Suzanne Mackie noted that Matt Smith, who played Prince Phillip in the first two seasons, had a higher profile than Queen Elizabeth’s incarnate Claire Foy going in. “He had been Doctor Who,” she said.
Turning to Season 3, it will start shooting in July with a timeline beginning in 1963, covering such events as England winning the soccer World Cup in 1966 (the first and only time it has done so) and the rise of The Beatles. Also ahead will be the Camilla Parker Bowles years. Said Mackie of later seasons, Prince “Charles grows up and meets Diana. Those are going to be extraordinary.”
The original plan for the series was to do six seasons, and the Left Bank Pictures exec producers Andy Harries and Mackie say the “natural end would be when the crown passes.” Queen Elizabeth is currently 91 years old. Harries said, “If the Queen is still around we could go further. It’s a bit too far away to think about seriously.”
Should the series continue into contemporary days, it’s expected that soon-to-be royal bride Meghan Markle will figure in the story. Prince Harry’s betrothed is also an actress and Mackie joked, “she could play herself.”
But apart from the natural hope that Elizabeth continues to thrive, Mackie added, “I want to see an episode where Trump comes to Buckingham palace.”
Harries confirmed that the costly undertaking costs about £5M-£5.5M an hour. “This is expensive television, but I’d argue it is not television as people know it. It’s something between TV and feature films.”
He touched on having pitched the show to some U.S. and UK networks and said he didn’t think series writer/creator Peter Morgan would have done it with anyone who would have given him notes. “The Americans definitely would have given him notes. The BBC too.”
Mackie talked about Morgan’s writing process and how the show imagines what went on behind closed doors. “None of us know what they might have said… We ask the simple question ‘How would we feel?’ We’re not the Queen of England, but she’s subject to the human condition. We all are.”
The series is changing cast for Season 3 with Olivia Colman stepping into Foy’s shoes as QEII. Said Harries, “We sold the series to Netflix (with the pitch that) we would change the cast three times. Seasons three and four will be the real tests of if the show has legs to survive.”
It was also confirmed Helena Bonham Carter will play Princess Margaret, suggestions were shot down that Hugh Laurie might incarnate Prince Phillip.