Find out more about the cast and characters involved in writer Mike Bartlett’s controversial and royally intriguing film King Charles III here.
Tim Pigott-Smith: King Charles III
The late Tim Pigott-Smith (he died unexpectedly in April) first played the role of Charles in Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III play in 2014, performing as the Prince of Wales-turned-monarch in London’s West End and on Broadway in New York.
But prior to what may now be his defining role, Pigott-Smith had a long and storied career in TV and film. His big break came when he was cast in the lead role of Ronald Merrick in 1984 TV serial The Jewel in the Crown, with parts following in the likes of crime drama The Chief, The Vice and 2002 Northern Ireland film Bloody Sunday.
Interestingly, he’s appeared twice in adaptations of Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic novel North and South, playing Frederick Hale in the 1975 version and returning in 2004 to portray Frederick’s father Richard.
Later Pigott-Smith appeared in films like Alexander, Clash of the Titans, Gangs of New York, Johnny English, Quantum of Solace and V for Vendetta, with a role in Downton Abbey (as Doctor Sir Philip Tapsell, who treated Jessica Brown Findlay’s Sybil during her childbirth) also following. Most recently, he had a cameo in Evelyn Waugh adaptation Decline and Fall as Sniggs earlier this year.
Pigott-Smith in King Charles III
“I’ve played quite a lot of real people and it carries a special responsibility,” Pigott-Smith said during filming in 2016.
“When I was offered the part I was working with a friend who did voices for Spitting Image. I asked how he would do Charles and he said that Charles fiddles with his signet ring and his cuffs and that he pulls his mouth down to the side when he’s talking and doesn’t really open his mouth.
“Watching a video of him I also discovered that he does this thing with his hands outside his pockets; they hover outside but they never go in, which is wonderfully indecisive and suits the character as written in the play.
“We didn’t want to do imitations but just occasionally there’s a suggestion of the actual man. I’ve been doing it for so long now that I probably sometimes do it without even being aware; it’s just my other self now.”