The Crown: Imelda Staunton reveals the challenges of replacing Olivia Colman as the Queen

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Harry Potter star Imelda Staunton is set to take over as the third iteration of Queen Elizabeth II in the fifth and sixth seasons of The Crown. She still has plenty of time before her performance is revealed to the world on Netflix, but the British actress has still confessed to taking on a number of challenges for the role.

Earlier this year, Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce were confirmed as the third incarnations of the Queen and Prince Philip for the fifth and sixth instalments of The Crown.

While it is still unknown if their interpretations will be the last for the series, Staunton and Pryce’s tenure on Netflix’s hit series will explore the later lives of the two Royals and their family.

In the meantime, the fourth season of The Crown is set for release in November, continuing Oscar-winner Olivia Colman’s stunning performance as The Queen.

Colman herself took over the role that had been superbly realised by Claire Foy in the first two seasons.

Coming in behind two critically acclaimed performances, upcoming Crown star Imelda Staunton has admitted to feeling immense pressure in replacing her predecessors. 

Previewing the upcoming series on this week’s This Morning (October 21), Staunton opened up about her thoughts coming into The Crown in its fifth season. 

She explained: “There’s pressure from every angle. I’m following two extraordinary actresses, but I’m also following one extraordinary human being, which is the Queen. 

“Because she’s so much in a lot of our lives and we know how she looks and how she sounds.”

The iconic Irish-English actress has certainly been no stranger to taking on weighty roles throughout her varied career.

Perhaps best known for her villainous turn as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter series, she has also tackled a number of Shakespearean characters for both stage and screen.

Most recently, Staunton appeared in blockbuster sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the Downton Abbey film, and even voiced Aunt Lucy in both Paddington films.

Despite her incredibly storied career, there’s nothing quite like Netflix’s incredibly intimate portrait of the Royal Family through the decades.

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Headed by showrunner Peter Morgan, each of its three seasons has received overwhelming acclaim, and is expected to reach even greater heights as the Royals head to the 80s in season four.

Praising the series so far, Staunton continued: “Of course I have to be like her as much as I can, but also I have to tell a story and a story of the day, whatever that is. 

“Peter Morgan’s job is to do her backstage life, if you like – that’s where his writing comes in, and it’s so extraordinary.”

The fourth season is poised to be extra riveting, as it will explore Prince Charles’ (Josh O’Connor) complex relationship with Princess Diana (Emma Corrin). 

The Crown’s returning cast will also be joined by TV legend Gillian Anderson, playing controversial Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Staunton added: “Because we’ve all got so much footage of the Queen doing her speeches and things like that, and I think the strength of The Crown has been going inside their private lives and making it as real as you can.”

Filming for season five will start in July, but Imelda Staunton’s research started well before then.

Finally, she said: “I’m working on it now and listening to her, watching her, and my television will be on November 15 when Olivia starts, and I’ll be very excited and I’ll be terrified, but I’m so looking forward to watching it.”

As The Crown has already sweeped awards season over the last three years, the expectations have never been higher as the series moves into its second cast changeover. 

The Crown returns with season 4 November 15 on Netflix. 

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