Every two seasons of The Crown, the cast changes completely. In seasons five and six, the final two seasons of the royal show set in the ’90s, Imelda Staunton plays Queen Elizabeth II.
Staunton reprises the roles of Olivia Colman, who portrayed the character in seasons three and four (and won an Emmy for it), and Claire Foy in the first two seasons.
The fifth season is expected to cover the events of 1992, which the Queen described in a speech as an “annus horribilis” – or “horrible year”. That year, three of her children separated or divorced their spouses, and their beloved residence, Windsor Castle, was almost destroyed in a fire.
It was a difficult time for the Queen – and the show premieres at a difficult time for the monarchy, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022 at the age of 96.
Staunton told Entertainment Weekly she learned of the Queen’s death while filming The Crown.
“That was pretty devastating,” Staunton told the outlet. She said playing the queen was while people around the world mourned her death strangesay the least.”
A veteran stage actor, the 66-year-old has made some notable appearances on screen – often playing characters that range from the weird to the frightening. Ditto for her theater work: Check out her in Sweeney Todd.
Below is more about her previous roles.
‘Sense and Sensibility’ (1995)
Sense and Sensibility is a 1995 film adaptation of Jane Austin, starring Staunton and Emma Thompson. Staunton’s character, Charlotte Palmer, is married to Hugh Lauries of House fame. Staunton and Thompson also appeared together in Harry Potter and Nanny McPhee.
“Shakespeare in Love” (1998)
Staunton and her husband Jim Carter (whom you may recognize as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey) play small roles in this film, which is set in Shakespeare’s theatrical world. She plays Viola’s (Gwyneth Paltrow) nurse backstage; He plays a nurse on stage.
Vera Drake (2004)
Staunton was acclaimed as the title character in the 2004 film Vera Drake, a period drama in which she plays a well-meaning housekeeper who performs abortions despite the fact that it was against the law at the time. She is eventually caught, arrested and tried for her crimes.
She won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival and later told TODAY that the “brilliantly complicated” film makes viewers consider all perspectives of abortion.
“It doesn’t take sides, and yet I don’t think it’s a soft option film,” she said. “I think it’s filled with emotion and compassion on all sides – the police, the law, the women who get it done, the women who do it. It looks at the bigger picture and makes us question the whole issue.”
“Nanny McPhee” (2005)
One of Staunton’s more quirky roles is Mrs Blatherwick, the family cook in the 2005 film Nanny McPhee. Throughout the film she says “Snow in August” at the strangest times, but it actually comes true when the title character (Emma Thompson) works her magic to create the perfect snowy summer wedding.
“What was difficult was going straight from (“Vera Drake”) to (“Nanny McPhee”). It was awfully hard to pick up words I hadn’t thought of,” she told TODAY.
‘Freedom Writers’ (2007)
Staunton plays a meddling assistant principal named Margaret Campbell in “Freedom Writers,” who routinely smothers the efforts of a young teacher (Erin Gruwell played by Hilary Swank) to stand up for the students because Campbell feels it’s not worth it. to invest in them.
Staunton told Australian outlet Female: “My character, Margaret, has been a teacher for thirty years and is very dated. She is a very good teacher but very stuck in her own ways. She doesn’t understand what Erin Gruwell is trying to do and finds it very threatening.”
Staunton said the core of their disagreements is that “a lot of schools get bogged down with bureaucracy and bureaucracy, and some feel there’s no point in wasting valuable resources educating them if kids can’t meet the standards.” Erin Gruwell questions the hunch and Margaret tries to stop her.”
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (2007)
Staunton plays Professor Dolores Umbridge in two Harry Potter films: Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows: Part One. Don’t let her pink outfits and sugary smile fool you: the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is one of the show’s most terrifying characters, and she tortures her students with abusive measures (and a creepy pen).
“I think she’s a fucking monster and needs to be played as such,” Staunton told Entertainment Weekly. “I don’t need to understand what she’s doing, but from a character point of view, she believes she’s doing the absolute best for this school. Once again I have embraced a totally and totally infatuated woman.”
Downton Abbey (2019)
Staunton plays the aide-de-camp to a countess in the 2019 film Downton Abbey. She told British publication Mirror that the 10 weeks it took to shoot the film was a break from her normally rigorous theatrical schedule.
“‘Downton’ was just luxury,” said Imelda. “It was like a nice box of chocolates. It’s so much easier to film, I’m telling you. I did hardcore theater for seven years where it overwhelmed me all the time, but this was great.”
Staunton starred in the film alongside her husband, Jim Carter, who plays Mr. Carson. Her current The Crown actor Dominic West appeared in the 2022 sequel.