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Claire Foy on the pressures of portraying the Queen in The Crown: 'I had to forget about all the preconceived ideas in my head'

Sharnaz Shahid
Deputy Online Editor
2 November 2016
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Her performance as the young Queen Elizabeth II is set to debut later this week, and while playing the monarch was no doubt an "honour" for the star, Claire Foy has revealed the chance of getting into the Queen's shoes was definitely somewhat of a challenge.

"You have to forget everything that you know, and all these preconceived ideas that you had," she said at a press conference on Tuesday. "I don't think you can approach her as someone who has grown up with that family.

"It is a very odd thing trying to approach these human beings as you want to hold them on a pedestal and you can't do that when playing a character. You have to get in there, so that's what we all did, you just try to forget a lot of stuff and then start at the bottom and then work your way up. Getting the voice and movement right first and then starting to get into the way they think was the way to go."

claire© Photo: PA

Claire Foy has opened up about the pressures of playing the Queen

When quizzed about how she prepared to play possibly the most famous woman of the last 50 years, the 32-year-old confessed she studied various archives and listened to several old tapes. However, the star noted that everything in the public domain was all "engineered".

"I don't know whether it is fortunate or not but at that time there was only what the palace was putting out [into the public] in terms of broadcast material," she explained. "They [the royals] were very engineered and practiced. It is important to get those right, but then you have to try and bleed that into their personal life in a way that isn't contrived or performed. The whole point of the story is that they weren't performing, so we had to imagine it."

In the ten-part Netflix series, Claire has teamed up with former Doctor Who star Matt Smith to play Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, while Vanessa Kirby takes on the role of the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret.

The new period drama, which follows young Elizabeth II as she becomes Queen after the devastation of World War II, sees the royal face up to the challenges of a being a mother, a wife, a sister and a monarch.

claire 2z© Photo: PA

The actress and former Doctor Who star Matt Smith play young Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

On what it was liking getting under the skin of Prince Philip, Matt hailed the royal and said it gave him a fascinating insight into how much his life changed after the coronation.

"His early life is really fascinating, the more research you do," he revealed. "A wonderful team gathered all the information and we spent as much time as we could immersing ourselves into the culture at the time and the context politically, as well as the emotional journey."

"I think the preconception we have of him is a misconception," he added. "I think all the things we think we know about the older version of Philip are what have come through the years, so what was fascinating to me was that I was enlightened by him and how it was really refreshing."

claire 3z

The Crown follows the Queen's life from 1947 to 1956

Joining Matt and Claire in the period drama is John Lithgow who plays Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Victoria Hamilton, who takes on the role of the Queen Mother.

According to The Telegraph, a reported £81million has been spent on the period drama, making it the most expensive drama ever made by Netflix.

Written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Daldry, The Crown follows the Queen's life from 1947 to 1956 and is set to air on Netflix this Friday.

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