We never had former Doctor Who star Matt Smith down as an ardent royalist, but it appears that the eight months he spent filming new Netflix series The Crown has made him “love” the Royal Family.
Smith told an audience at the streaming service’s Paris showcase that his role as Prince Philip on the drama made him understand the Windsors better – and also taught him about British history.
“We grew to love them quite a lot, in a much greater way than we ever did,” he said, as he and co-star Claire Foy (who plays Queen Elizabeth II) worked on the ten-part series.
“I sort of learned a lot about the history of my own country that I was completely unaware of,” he said, but jokingly declined to admit what those gaps in his knowledge were because he said it would have made him sound “dumb”.
Asked by RadioTimes.com how the production avoided being overly sycophantic, Smith added: “I think the writing firstly is respectful but it’s not overly reverential. It’s honest about the human traits of these people. We as actors interpret that as honestly and as bravely as we can.”
He added, “We had a wonderful time together, and at the heart of this is this really rich love story about two soul mates [the Queen and Prince Philip] who are put under great press about her responsibility to become Queen so early and so unexpectedly.
“The Prince Philip we know now and the Prince Philip we perhaps knew then are two very different men,” he said.
Writer Peter Morgan also wrote the film The Queen, which chronicled the Royal Family’s reaction to the death of Princes Diana.
Morgan said, “The Queen and Tony Blair had an agreement not to talk ever in public about the film. Of course back channels are back channels. We have had some feedback from them. It is very elegant I think for them them to have claimed to have not seen it. And I think it’s appropriate for us to not have contact with them. A healthy and respectful distance from both parties is very helpful I think.”
Executive producer Andy Harries, who also worked on The Queen and The Crown, said the response to the movie has eased relations with Buckingham Palace. He said that it was difficult to get locations for the film but was easier on The Crown, partly because it struck the right note.
“The movie I think was a good thing for the Royal Family. I think there’s an air of respect between us and the Palace. There has been some contact, but very little really. I have certainly had tea with the key press people of the Queen. They haven’t read the scripts, they haven’t asked to read the scripts but I am sure they will be renewing their Netflix subscription for whatever day it goes out.”
That day was also named at today’s panel as well. The series, which also sees John Lithgow play Winston Churchill, will premiere on 4 November.