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Emmy Nominations 2017: Claire Foy on Queen Elizabeth II and ‘The Crown’


Claire Foy received her first Emmy nomination on Thursday for a role that she’s already done playing.

The British actress originated the role of Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown,” the Netflix drama that earned 13 nominations, including Ms. Foy’s for best lead actress in a drama series. Shooting has finished on Season 2, which will debut later this year, and any later seasons will feature a new actress in the role as the character ages.

“It’s still very much like it’s part of my life because it hasn’t aired yet and there’s still some postproduction,” Ms. Foy said Thursday. “When I start my next job I’ll kind of go, ‘Aww.’ That will be the moment it’s over and I know I’ll never play her again.”

Ms. Foy called from London to discuss the nomination, Season 2 of the drama and what Queen Elizabeth II has in common with James Bond. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Why do you think “The Crown” resonated beyond Britain?

I think this family is universal in the sense that people around the world have grown up with them, and been caught up in their family dramas and their lives, and how they changed through time as the world changed. A lot of Americans said to me that after the election, it was, not a relief, but kind of an enjoyable escape about the making of a society and how politics works.

President Trump and Queen Elizabeth II have different leadership styles.

I think that was probably the escapism part.

What was it like to inhabit someone so famous, who has been a presence throughout your entire life?

It was never not going to be weird. You come to it with so many expectations and you have to let go of them; you can’t let them guide you because it could go so wrong. None of us did that. I think that’s why people liked it so much and went along with us — instead of portraying them as the figures, we tried to portray them as people.

What new insights did you get into the royal family?

Just that they’re a family. The stresses and restrictions on them are slightly odd, I suppose. It was really about how much their role in society and those pressures affected them as people. It can’t help but change you. And the death of [King George VI] shook the family to the core. It really affected the girls and the whole family. He was the linchpin and when he was gone, it changed the way the family worked. Which is what happens with every family, because that’s life, isn’t it?

What were some keys to playing Queen Elizabeth II?

She lets people come to her — she doesn’t force her opinions on people. She likes to see how things play out and then quietly and carefully express her opinions. It really helped me to remember that quite a lot. She wouldn’t take the shouty route — she’s much more underplayed and calm. But she also has an incredible sense of humor.

She reportedly liked the show. What’s the best review you could hope for from her?

Oh God. As long as she doesn’t take one look and: “Tut! That was the worst thing.” But we’ll never really know unless she approaches and I go, “So what did you think, Ma’am?” But I don’t expect that to happen.

How is Season 2 different?

She’s a very different kind of person in the sense that she’s much more true to herself, and secure in her role. But that doesn’t translate to other parts of her life, her marriage and relationships. One part of your life is going really well and one part crumbles to nothing, that’s life. She definitely struggles from that and from the fact that the world is changing at a pace she hasn’t got control of — everything is happening and she’s trying to understand what it means to her and her family.

What advice do you have for whoever plays her next?

Get some sleep! I don’t have any advice. Whoever takes her on will reincarnate her, and it will be entirely their own thing. I don’t own her as a character. She’s the James Bond of the royal family.


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