The Crown: Imelda Staunton not confirmed as next Queen Elizabeth II (yet)

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 08: Imelda Staunton attends The Olivier Awards with Mastercard at Royal Albert Hall on April 8, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 08: Imelda Staunton attends The Olivier Awards with Mastercard at Royal Albert Hall on April 8, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images) /

Another case of fake news? The rumor mill spun tales that Imelda Staunton was confirmed to play Queen Elizabeth II for possible seasons 5 and 6 of The Crown, but Netflix was quick to squash reports.

News outlets reported that Imelda Staunton, famous for her astonishing turn as bureaucratic villain Professor Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter series, was set to take over the mantle from Olivia Colman once The Crown started filming seasons five and six. Turns out that the information was very premature. Although The Crown continues to be a boon for Netflix and is currently garnering raves for its excellent season three, the series has only been officially approved up to season 4.

"“We are currently filming season four of The Crown, but have not commissioned any further seasons as yet, therefore any news on casting remains pure speculation,” said a Netflix spokesperson in an issued statement to clarify the casting news, according to IndieWire."

Although the series hasn’t been renewed past season four, series creator Peter Morgan has an overall deal with Netflix that likely includes the concept to carry the series to six seasons. The Crown usually takes a decade one season at a time and with Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) coming on board for the fourth season, viewers are likely to follow the series up until the 90’s.

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Since Claire Foy brought the Queen’s story to life in the stellar first season, The Crown has been a critical and fan darling, garnering several Emmys, including well deserving Lead Actress for Foy, Directing for Stephen Daldry, Outstanding Supporting Actor for John Lithgow’s turn as Winston Churchill, among others.

The third season has continued the excellent storytelling, with two particularly moving episodes, “Aberfan,” and “Bubbikins,” among the best chapters in the entire Crown lexicon. There is very little doubt that the series will get a green light for two more seasons, going against the common standard at Netflix to usually end series after three.

It is probable that Imelda Staunton is in talks—even if informal—with Left Bank Pictures for the role. She’s an Academy Award nominee and personally, she would make an inspired choice to play the Queen. Although she’s most known for playing Harry Potter nemesis Umbridge, she held her own against Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess in the Downton Abbey movie, and would bring plenty of nuance to the longest reigning British monarch.

The casting news has opened the floodgates for fans to speculate about who could take on the role, including Helen Mirren and Emma Thompson. Although Staunton would make an ideal choice, Thompson would also bring a lot to the role. She already had a fun turn as the first Queen Elizabeth on the hilarious Shakespeare show, Upstart Crow, in England (if you’ve never heard of it, do yourself a favor and watch all of it. It’s the funniest show I’ve seen in years).

But it’s doubtful Mirren would take on the role she already won an Oscar for in The Queen, and onstage in The Audience, both written by The Crown’s Morgan. Although Mirren was truly excellent in both, her response to attempting fate a third time was, “I don’t think so.” She’s already done that, and part of the fun of The Crown is witnessing new actors’ take on all the famous characters.

For a full list of speculations on several cast choices, check out this CNN breakdown on odds-favorites.

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In the meantime, season three of The Crown is now available on Netflix and it’s another fascinating tale of stories about the Windsors, which could frankly use some positive spin since that horrid Prince Andrew interview on BBC’s Newsnight.