You see a lot of Doctor Who star Matt Smith in Netflix’s The Crown – and not just because he’s playing Queen Elizabeth’s companion, Prince Philip.
The British actor – who stars alongside Foy in Peter Morgan’s lavish tale of Queen Elizabeth II’s early years – bares his backside in the occasional bedroom scene, but not for the reasons one might expect.
“A crucial thing is that Philip sleeps naked. That’s a fact. That was something that we found out,” actress Claire Foy revealed at a Netflix event in New York.
“They weren’t put in – it’s just the fact that there are bed scenes. And what do you do, put Philip in a pair of pyjamas? That’s not right for the character.”
Smith joked that the scenes were “actually the best bit of acting I did in the whole series. No word of a lie. It was my most truthful moment.”
And when asked how he thought Prince Philip might react should he see the scenes in question, Smith effortlessly switched to Philip mode to suggest the Duke of Edinburgh might wonder, “Is that MY bum?”
Jared Harris, who plays King George VI, told RadioTimes.com that he wasn’t at all phased when faced with delivering lines to the naked actor.
“There’s actually a [deleted] scene directly after [the bedroom scene] where he’s being dressed. He’s going straight into a room and there’s two dressers there and they’re throwing all the hunting clothes on him and he’s completely naked.”
The veteran actor was keen to stress that the scene wasn’t thrown in for the sake of it either.
“It was a game where you look straight in the eye, and though you know he’s completely naked you don’t say anything, and it’s about, you know, the embarrassment of it,” Harris explained.
“And then after that there was another scene where we’re walking out from the corridor with the valet and [the director] said, ‘I want you to do something where we get an idea of, he’s well endowed,’ as you’re walking down the corridor. We sort of played with it again and then we just sort of walked out of there and looked at each other and went, “Bloody hell!”
Smith was rather impressed with the man he portrayed too – albeit for other reasons.
“He had the most extraordinary early life.” the actor said. “I think we have a preconception about Philip nowadays as the man he is, this man who makes social guffaws and stuff, but actually he lived this very tragic, sort of formative years and it was just utterly fascinating and my affection and appreciation for him – and indeed the Royal Family – grew enormously.”
With that in mind, Smith wanted to avoid simply doing an impression or parody.
“It’s a fine line between wanting to tell the truth and giving people a version of the character that they know and understand,” he said. “And then, you know, you want to tell a story that’s dramatic and interesting and engaging as a drama. We’re trying to capture the energy of these people; it’s not Spitting Image.”
The Crown is available to stream on Netflix from 4th November