Despite her talent and past exploit as royalty on screen, The Crown’s Olivia Colman has somehow failed to achieve the ‘Elizabethan Expression’.
Netflix’s The Crown has definitely made its mark with spectacular sets, detailed costumes and a host of amazing actors iterating royal personas over different decades. Over 3 seasons, the show has drawn in people not necessarily followers of the Royal Family gossips. The person most responsible for this was Claire Foy, who played Elizabeth in the first two seasons. But as we progressed with Season 3, Academy award winning actor Olivia Colman replaced Claire Foy to reflect the Queen in middle age. The stakes couldn’t be higher and the transition was utterly natural for most fans. But some viewers have been unconvinced with Olivia’s Colman’s Elizabethan expression and how she brought out the middle-aged Queen on screen.
I have always held a bit of a fancy for the British Royal family. So, The Crown was nothing short of a delight for me. I binge-watched every season and then re-watched them countless times. However, I’ve been reluctant to re-watch the third season as much as I loved watching the first two. This can be credited in part to Claire Foy and her portrayal of Elizabeth. Foy was replaced by the brilliant Oscar and Golden Globe winner Olivia Colman who played Queen Elizabeth in the following season. Arguably, Colman does a brilliant job of playing a mature sovereign. So, her portrayal haven’t had the same charm over viewers. But that’s not something to pin down on Olivia Colman’s expression of the Queen in The Crown season 3.
The Blue Eyed Elizabeth – Claire Foy’s Queen
Claire Foy is simply delightful in the first two seasons with her delicate accent, hand movements and expressions. We see her portray Elizabeth II as a Princess, a daughter, a bride and a young sovereign which suits Foy’s doe-like blue eyes. Foy brought the reigning Queen to screen as a living, breathing human but somehow never lost the mystery and magic that comes with being royalty. This set the tone of the show and the expectations of viewers.
In the first season, we see a Royal wedding and a Coronation, two affairs that only the Royalty are privy to. We also see Elizabeth come into her role of monarch but playing junior to everyone at the same time. The show depicts her well as a protagonist who listens and follows. This is important to note because her comportment changes in the coming season.
In The Crown season 1 and 2, Claire Foy brought the Queen to screen as a living, breathing human but somehow never lost the mystery and magic that comes with being royalty.
What one misses in between all the glitter and charm of the first two seasons is Elizabeth’s journey as a sovereign. She becomes drawn into in politics, keeping up the monarchy and sorting her marriage. By the end of Season 2, you see her as someone responsible for the monarchy rather than someone thrust into the responsibility.
Olivia Colman’s Her Majesty is a Bore?
Coleman plays Queen Elizabeth in middle age. Season 3 begins with the note that the Queen is getting old. She is now a settled monarch, a mother and responsible for the heir to the throne. The Elizabeth of The Crown season 3 knows what needs to be done and how. It’s tough to deny that Colman plays it to perfection. She walks with a certain, presence, has a certain gravitas about her and has serious brown eyes which show her journey as a sovereign. A lot of viewers were disappointed with Olivia Colman’s expression in The Crown Season 3 because perhaps fans kept looking for the sparkle, but the sparkle ends, even in a royal. Colman humanizes the character, which might be playing a role in reluctance of some sections of fans in accepting the Queen of The Crown Season 3 and 4.
In The Crown season 3, Olivia Colman walked with a certain gravitas about her and her serious brown eyes complement the portrayal of the Queen’s journey maturing as a sovereign.
Both Foy and Colman play a living monarch. In this case, it becomes easier to compare Colman to the Queen rather than Foy. But we don’t see Foy’s Queen deal with her rowdy sister or the Prime Minister, we see Colman’s Elizabeth do it.
Watch: Who plays a better Queen on The Crown?
How fans feel about an aging Queen
Monarchy is a game of appearances and assuring continuity. As Elizabeth said in the first season, the monarchy should always shine, not the monarch. We are at a stage in The Crown when Queen Elizabeth becomes a lesser important character and the limelight shifts to Prince Charles, the heir apparent. This happened in real life as well, when attention passed on from Charles to Prince William, his wife Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, and their children.
An ageing monarch doesn’t garner a lot of attention in real life too. Maybe that’s some sections of The Crown fans have been reluctant to resonate with one on screen. The next season of The Crown premiers in November where we also get to see Lady Diana played by Elizabeth Debicki and the mouth-watering confrontation between Olivia Colman’s Queen and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the role being essayed by Sex Education actor Gillian Anderson.