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'The Crown': How the fourth season of the Netflix show was made

Emma Corrin The Crown
Emma Corrin takes on the role of Princess Diana in the new series (Image credit: Netflix)

The Crown will be returning to Netflix for a fourth season on Nov. 15, 2020. And with the award-winning regal saga set to move into the 1980s, we couldn't be more excited. 

The arrival of Lady Diana Spencer — the future Princess of Wales — is set to be one of the highlights, and newcomer Emma Corrin will be be making her debut as the iconic royal. Fans of palace intrigue will be delighted to hear that Diana's fairytale wedding to Prince Charles and the subsequent breakdown of their marriage is set to play a major part of this year’s ten-part series.

Yet Emma isn’t the only new girl on the block. Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) will be taking on the role of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and this year's episodes will take us up to her fall from power in 1990. 

Meanwhile, Olivia Colman will be returning for her final series as the Queen, with Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter and Josh O’Connor reprising their roles as Prince Philip, Princes Margaret and Prince Charles once more. 

With so much going on inside and outside of Buckingham Palace, it’s bound to be a captivating journey, as Jess Hobbs, who directed the second half of this year’s series explains.

Marriage on the rocks

The wedding of Charles at Diana at St Paul’s Cathedral is sure to be a memorable moment, but the way their marriage fell apart will be a dominant theme this year.

"I didn’t do the wedding, I do their demise!" says Jess. "I researched by reading a lot of biographies and watching a lot of interviews from the era. If you’re watching something on Charles, Diana or even Margaret Thatcher, you suddenly see them drop their mask and you’re like 'That’s the bit I need!' Those little whispered asides off camera, little bits where you just notice something. But we knew it was important not to use hindsight during filming, as we’re talking about a couple being in the midst of a marriage that’s not functioning well and perhaps shouldn’t have happened."

The Crown Emma Corrin Josh O'Connor

The marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles falls apart in the fourth season of "The Crown." (Image credit: Netflix)

New York, New York!

In 1989, Princess Diana made a solo trip to New York, where she famously visited young AIDS patients at a Harlem hospital and the Henry Street Settlement, a halfway house for homeless families. This trip is set to be included in the series as Emma was spotted on set in Manchester, which doubles as the Big Apple.

"New York was amazing to film," explains Jess. "There are some huge set pieces this year. Often as a director you’re wondering how you can reduce the frame, because you can only afford to fill a small part of it, but on The Crown you can come up with a sequence and they find a way to make that happen and I love that. I think the spectacle of these big scenes really lets you into the world of these royals."

Finding Thatcher

Britain’s first female Prime Minister caused a stir when she entered Downing Street in 1979, and Jess revealed in uncovering the woman behind the politician.

"I did her demise rather than her triumphant entrance and it was very moving. I never thought Thatcher would make me dry, but she did!" explains Jess. "Gillian and I talked a lot about women and power and what it was for her to hold that job for so long, how challenging it probably was even if she didn’t want to show that. She and the Queen had a lot in common in terms of what went on with them!"

 

The Crown Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson plays incoming Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (Image credit: Netflix)

All-star cast

With so many talented actors vying for screen-time, one of the biggest challenges Jess faced was finding time for them all!

"The calibre of actors is so high," she explains. "Sometimes people are coming in for one scene, such as Marion Bailey who’s brilliant as the Queen Mother. She has a properly big scene with Helena Bonham Carter (who plays Princess Margaret) this year and she was extraordinary and you suddenly feel the electricity in the room. When these fine actors get their moments they really shine!"