Olivia Colman shines in the role of a lifetime in The Crown Season Three

The Oscar winner was destined to play the Queen.
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It’s fitting that the third season of The Crown opens with a shot of the Queen, now played by Oscar winner Olivia Colman, examining the latest release of royal stamps.

The profile on the left is of the monarch as we’ve come to know her in The Crown’s first two seasons – the young, rookie royal played by Claire Foy. And the profile on the right is of Olivia, a settled sovereign staring at the dawn of a new reign.

“From young woman to old bat,” the Queen jokes while her aides shuffle awkwardly.

“There have been a great many changes, but here we are. Age is rarely kind to anyone, and one just has to get on with it.”

Getting on with it is the precise approach Olivia adopted when taking on the role of Queen Elizabeth II. Olivia makes no claim to any special insights into the woman she plays.

“I have no idea what’s in her mind,” Olivia, 45, explains. “I just sort of see her as a human being who has to show nothing – that’s her job.

“It’s a piece of drama rather than a documentary, so it’s just playing with it and imagining it – and doing a bit of an impression of Claire Foy.” [Laughs]

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Olivia was destined to play the Queen.

(Image: Netflix)

Of course, Claire won a legion of fans for her portrayal of the reluctant royal who finds herself thrust onto the throne after the sudden death of her father King George VI in the show’s first two seasons.

But for Olivia, there’s no warm-up. From day one, she had to embody Elizabeth as Queen.

“For Claire, she had sort of the very beginnings of becoming Queen and finding out what that was,” The Crown’s director, Ben Caron, explains.

“But Olivia had to hit the ground running – she didn’t have two seasons to grow into the Queen, so she did lots of work beforehand, with dialect coaches and movement coaches.”

On set with Olivia.

(Image: Netflix)

The result is an intriguing Queen who seems both familiar yet distinct; there are elements of the old Elizabeth, but Olivia has undeniably made the role her own.

The actress says she’s enjoyed the challenge of inhabiting the character.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge in a really good way – a challenge because I’m very emotional, and cry a lot,” Olivia says.

“I burst into tears when I see a picture of a puppy, whereas the Queen might naturally want to do that, but isn’t allowed to. So I’ve got to try not to and that’s been a bit difficult.”

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Olivia Colman and her on-screen husband, Tobias Menzies.

(Image: Netflix)

The Crown Season Three premieres on Netflix, Sunday November 17.

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