Margaret Thatcher is Gillian Anderson in season 4 of The Crown.
Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman) and Britain’s first female prime minister are at odds in the latest episodes of the award-winning Netflix series.
Anderson wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to play Thatcher, despite taking on the role of a historical figure and the scrutiny that comes with it.
Gillian Anderson only wanted ‘The Crown’ for the role of Margaret Thatcher
In December 2020, Robert Sterne, who cast Season 4 of The Crown, opened up to Elle about casting Thatcher’s role. He knew the episodes were going to be about the Queen, Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and Thatcher.
When casting the prime minister, he had only one actress in mind, Anderson.
She was dating Peter Morgan at that time, the creator of “The Crown.”
“There was always a list of one,” said Sterne to Elle. “We had a lot of ideas and talked about it a lot, but we always knew Gillian Anderson was totally great.”
He added, “She seemed like a fresh and interesting way to go,” “We were very lucky that she said she would do it – she’s such a smart character actress.”
In addition to Colman, Corrin, Joshua O’Connor (Prince Charles), Tobias Menzies (Prince Philip), Helena Bonham Carter (Princess Margaret) and Erin Doherty, Anderson joins the cast of ‘The Crown’ in Season 4 (Princess Anne).
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Gillian Anderson admits that turning down the role would have been “really stupid”
In a December 2020 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Anderson talked about her role as Thatcher. She admitted that it would not have been a wise decision to turn down the chance to play her in “The Crown.”
“It’s one of those roles where if you were asked to play Thatcher in The Crown, you’d be really stupid not to say ‘yes,'” Anderson said. “I think I would have really regretted it if I had done that and someone else had taken it and done a good job.”
The actor continued, “I kind of felt like it was a welcome challenge,” she said. “Yeah, [it was]daunting in the sense that, as you say, a lot of people have very strong opinions about her, and they’re no doubt going to have a lot of opinions about how she’s portrayed and how I played her.
That’s just normal at the end of the day.”
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Anderson told Harper’s Bazaar in November 2020 that her version of Thatcher involved a lot of trial and error.
After learning about Thatcher and watching videos of her, Anderson began testing in front of the camera with a full head of hair and makeup.
As the actor said, the initial look was “a big mess.”
“I watched some of the playbacks while I was trying out how she holds her head and how she walks and all those things,” she said, later adding, “I had to kind of take it back and start working on other aspects of it.”
During filming, she wore two wigs – one for the first half of the season and another for the second – along with Thatcher’s signature pouf and lipstick.
In the end, Anderson honed her performance, which earned her praise from both critics and viewers.
Watch The Crown seasons 1 – 4 on Netflix.
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