Filming ‘The Crown’ After the Queen’s Death Was ‘A Very Sad and Strange Time,’ Star Imelda Staunton Says

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While “The Crown” Season 5, which is due to debut on Netflix in November, wrapped filming long before Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September, production had just begun on the Emmy-winning show’s sixth and final season when the Queen died. For the cast and especially the crew that had been with the series since its inception, it was an emotional time.

“It was very sad, indeed, particularly for the crew who had been doing it since Day 1,” Imelda Staunton, who takes over the role of Queen Elizabeth in Season 5 and 6, told TheWrap in a recent interview. “We started filming Season 6 on Wednesday, and the Queen died on Thursday, so we then stopped filming for a while and then resumed. I personally resumed the day after the funeral. So there’s no doubt about it, it was a very sad and strange time for all of us, knowing that we had to continue. We couldn’t stop completely. So you have to regroup and carry on, and so we did and we are, and it’s wonderful to do.”

Staunton acknowledged the heightened sensitivity around the fifth season given that it’s debuting so soon after the Queen’s death, but noted that they completed filming those episodes six months ago. However, her co-star Jonathan Pryce, who takes over the role of Prince Philip in the final two seasons, thinks that the audience may watch these last couple of seasons with a renewed sense of empathy for the Queen.

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“I think the biggest effect is [on] the audience. It will affect how they perceive Season 5 and how they view it, and I personally think there’ll be a lot of empathy and a lot of understanding about the Queen, because people will want to see it,” he told TheWrap in the same interview. “I know the day after the Queen died, the viewing figures of previous seasons went up 150%. So it’s something people want to see and it’s still the same Queen they will want to see, and I find the whole thing very moving.”

That sense of extra sensitivity with Season 5 has had a tangible effect on the reaction to the new episodes, even though they haven’t been released yet. Actress Judi Dench wrote an open letter calling on Netflix to add a disclaimer to the show to relay to viewers that it’s a fictional drama series.

While maintaining in an open letter to Netflix last week that it’s a “brilliant but fictionalised account of events,” the Oscar winner said she’s gotten wind of “wounding suggestions apparently contained in the new series” that she believes requires an explicit message to viewers that what they’re watching is more fiction than fact.

“I fear that a significant number of viewers, particularly overseas, may take its version of history as being wholly true,” she wrote.

Netflix subsequently added a disclaimer to the Season 5 trailer, but has not yet added one to the show itself.

“The Crown” Season 5 debuts on Netflix on Nov. 9.

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