The Best Performances of The Crown Series Ranked!
The Netflix show The Crown has had five seasons so far, and the sixth and final one is now filming. The show has a long timeline, so the cast changes about every twenty years. What started out as the story of the young Windsors, with Claire Foy and Matt Smith in the lead roles and focusing mostly on their growing relationship while the monarchy was under stress, turned into a wide-ranging history of major world events.
As the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s time went on, new actors joined the main cast. Claire Foy became Olivia Colman, who in season five became Imelda Staunton. Matt Smith gave way to Tobias Menzies, and he gave way to Jonathan Pryce. The same thing happened to all of the real-life people in the large cast who made it through the season change. But with The Crown season 5, we’ve reached the end of the cast list. The current actors will carry the story into the sixth season, which will be the last one to air, according to the show’s creators.
So, while we wait for the last set of episodes, it’s a fair question to ask: who wore the crown in The Crown series better?
Queen Elizabeth II
Imelda Staunton is great in The Crown Season 5, but the War of the Princes of Wales takes over all 10 episodes and makes Elizabeth’s point of view less important. With the exception of one or two monologues, we still don’t have a real Emmy moment where Staunton can really show off her acting skills and channel Queen Elizabeth II in the style of her predecessors. This doesn’t mean she does a bad job; she just does what you’d expect from a professional.
2. Claire Foy
Clare Foy is the original, and she’s almost as good as Olivia Colman, but not quite. She’s thrown into the royal arena out of the blue, and we spend the first two seasons learning about crown duties along with her. Foy was very weak at first, but as she gets more involved in royal politics, she gets stronger and becomes a powerful force in her own right. This may be the most likable and down-to-earth version of Queen Elizabeth II, if such words can be used to describe a person who has always been the head of state.
1. Olivia Colman
There aren’t many myths here, which is exciting and brave. Olivia Colman could have played Fagan as nice and helpful in season 4 of The Crown. Instead, she acts exactly how you would expect an older woman to act when a homeless man who might as well be crazy shows up out of the blue. Then there are the scenes where Gillian Anderson’s Margaret Thatcher gives her a very tough time. A majestic performance, full-fledged prestige material.
A careful choice. A strong actor who is sure not to fall into mimicry by heart. He looks a lot like his tall predecessor, who was the star of Game of Thrones. But his immediate predecessor probably could have used a little more of the Prince Philip persona.
2. Tobias Menzies
Menzies was nice to watch on his own, but sometimes he seemed like a bad copy, with that elegant, nasal voice and that look of disdain. His work was never so definitive. Still, who wouldn’t love Emma Corrin’s scenes of him with Princess Diana, especially the scary last few minutes of season four at Sandringham?
1. Matt Smith
When Matt Smith was cast as Prince Philip in The Crown season 1, he had just finished his breakout role as The Doctor in the long-running BBC sci-fi series. He had been in a few movies and spent a lot of time on stage and TV, but this was by far the biggest thing he had done since then. It was also his first chance to show that he was a respected actor and move his resume beyond a children’s show, no matter how famous it was.
Matt Smith tore him apart by letting him move away from the old, familiar Phillip that most of us knew. That first season is as much his as it is Claire Foy’s, with Isabel taking on the burden of power and him suddenly being powerless as a man in the middle of the century, nothing les.
Princess Margaret is the hardest to figure out of the few characters in The Crown who can help the story. Each actress made Margarita her own. Vanessa Kirby played the backup heiress, Helena Bonham Carter was the socialite who fed her deepest doubts about the royal institution with lavish parties and alcohol, and Lesley Manville was the sister and would-be ruler who was haunted by how her family and the crown itself had failed her.
Both Vanessa Kirby and Helena Bonham Carter are so good that we can’t choose between them. And Lesley Manville doesn’t do much better…
1. Lesley Manville
Lesley Manville’s performance in The Crown Season 5 is similar to her famous role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Ghost Thread. Both Princess Margaret and Cyril Woodcock are rich aristocrats, but they both feel the pain of always being second best.
This is true of all three actresses who have played Queen Elizabeth II’s sister. However, this is the best performance because so much time has passed: the trauma has grown, and the deep pain of a life not lived has become more intense. And after all this, wouldn’t you like to share a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of red wine with her?
2. Dominic West
A lot of Josh O’Connor’s great work is taken over by Dominic West, but like Elizabeth Debicki’s performance as Diana, it’s not a fierce one. The shared moment of him in the ninth episode, an imaginary encounter that turns into the usual dispute, is his best moment, his unleashed emotionality; Unfortunately, Josh O’Connor had one of those blockbuster moments in what seemed like almost every episode of The Crown 4 .
1. Josh O’Connor
Prince Charles is played by Josh O’Connor, who makes him into a sly, womanizing jerk. Because of this, it’s even more brilliant that he makes the future king so likeable after the third season. Since the Windsors tend to make people feel suffocated, you can feel the future king’s desire to just do good and his inability to balance that with his duties as king. Even the tragic affair with Princess Diana would have been little more than a sad but all too common fight between broken hearts.
If it were a contest about how much Elizabeth Debicki looks like Princess Diana, she would win hands down. Even if the real Lady Di came back to life, dusted herself off, and stood in front of the contest judges, Debicki could still win. But looks aren’t everything. It’s about what makes a person human, not about the blonde wig and fancy pearls. It’s about what makes a person feel like a familiar figure.
1. Emma Corrin
And if we think about what made Princess Diana who she was, at least in the public’s mind, Emma Corrin smashed it. Princess Diana had a glow of innocence, was shy in private, and was the personification of complete empathy, even when the odds were against her.
That doesn’t mean that Elizabeth Debicki doesn’t have a similar spirit, but like many of the other actors in season five of The Crown, she has less to do on the page. On the other hand, Emma Corrin’s role as Lady Di in the fourth season episode “Fairytale,” which is about the royal wedding, is a huge success.
Camilla, queen consort
This is another hard question. Emerald Fennell is also known for directing the feminist thriller Promising Young Woman. She does a great job as this evil, sneaky, and a bit Machiavellian version of Camilla, which is similar to the image of the Queen Consort on Facebook memes. The similarities are also stronger.
1. Olivia Williams
We’re in the business of showing depth, and if The Crown Season 5 does anything surprising or interesting with the love and loss story of Carlos, Diana, and Camilla, it’s giving Mrs. Parker Bowles more airtime, since her point of view is often overlooked in the Wales vs. Wales story. In fact, this is a point that the show makes. Olivia Williams pulls it off. Her Camilla has her body, and she’s not the cartoon villain that some Princess Diana fans are quick to say she is, rightly or wrongly.
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