Netflix’s first UK based series ‘The Crown’ has succeeded in casting quite a regal cast to helm the story of Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill’s post-war Britain. With the talents of John Lithgow (“Dexter”), Claire Foy (“Crossbones” and “Wolf’s Hall”), and Matt Smith (“Doctor Who”), ‘The Crown’ is sure to be a smashing success.
“The Crown”, Netflix states, “tells the story of two of the most famous addresses in the world — Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street — and the intrigues, love lives and machinations behind the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.”
I’m excited to see Netflix producing a British show (is it too early to get my hopes up that they will work with non-English speaking countries to provide original content at some point in the future?), and even more excited about the cast. Matt Smith’s turn as The Doctor showed what a breathtaking storyteller he can be, and I’m sure his Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (husband to Elizabeth II) will be quite an interesting character. Matt Smith has an innocent quality about him, a playful, mischievous sweetness that contrasts with his serious intelligence and old soul eyes.
Claire Foy, who I first saw on the NBC series “Crossbones”, will be a young Queen Elizabeth II. I think casting Claire Foy was a brilliant choice. She manages to capture both movement and stillness in her roles, something I noticed in her character Kate Balfour in “Crossbones” (I’m still not over NBC’s cancellation of that incredibly deep and beautiful story). A crown suits her.
John Lithgow, who has played such roles as an alien (“Third Rock From The Sun”), Lord Faarquad (“Shrek”), and a serial killer (“Dexter”), will be playing Winston Churchill. While Lithgow is American, he was trained at LAMDA in London, which shows in his broad range of abilities. His charisma and purposefulness have created some of the most unique characters in film, television, and theatre.
It’s also exciting to see “Crown” being told in a serialized format, by people who created it as a play, then a film. With actors who have experience in all those fields, I’m curious to see how the story looks and feels as a television show. Will the staging and direction be more akin to theatrical productions? Will the show feel bigger, more like a dramatic film? More of the story can be told in the television format, which is the next logical step in attempting to compress history into a story — there are too many details that have to be left out of a theatrical production or a film.
“The Crown” will be interesting to view as anAmerican, because even though I don’t have the experience of living in Britain post-war, I grew up reading The Chronicles of Narnia and
Harry Potter. You can still see the effect of World War II in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series, and it remains a deep wound on the land and its people. I’m hoping this will open our eyes to the difficulties we face after a war, the tragedy of lives lost, and the effort it takes to heal. Seeing something like this play out might encourage us to be careful of how we conduct ourselves in the future.
Netflix is quickly becoming a content juggernaut in its own right, especially after the success of shows like House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, Daredevil, Bloodlines, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and adding a British television show to the mix will only increase its desirability. It’s encouraging to see Netflix branching out, and I hope this means more original content from other countries in the future.
For now, I look forward to seeing young Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip interact with Sir Winston Churchill. “Crown” promises to be most intriguing.