Matt Smith and Claire Foy on new socially-distanced production of Lungs: “Something vital’s missing”

The former The Crown co-stars "didn't realise" how much they relied on being in each other's physical spaces for The Old Vic theatre production.

Matt Smith and Claire Foy in Lungs

Matt Smith and Claire Foy have spoken about reprising their latest onstage roles for a socially-distanced production of Lungs, in which they must perform two metres apart at all times.

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The actors, who first co-starred in the first two seasons of Netflix’s The Crown, play a middle-class couple debating the effect that having a baby will have on the environment. The production is live-streamed, and will raise money for the Old Vic.

Foy revealed she felt “something vital [was] missing” in this new version. Speaking to The Guardian, she said, “I knew that in this play we depended entirely on our connection and the other actor’s performance, but I didn’t realise how much I relied on being in each other’s physical space – being able to touch one another and engage in that way.

“It’s making me a bit blue because you lose an element of what being an actor is. There is something vital missing. But I don’t think that it’s going to be any less because of that, but it can’t be like this for ever!”

Although the onstage distance between the actors is partly solved by camera trickery, Smith teased, “I’ve threatened Claire that I might break all lockdown rules during the play and kiss her anyway.”

The pair also spoke about how they became friends on the set of The Crown, where Foy played a young Queen Elizabeth II and Smith her husband, Prince Philip. Lungs provided the opportunity for a reunion.

“We’re friends,” said Foy, “and after The Crown we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we did something together again?’ I didn’t know if anyone would let us and then we independently read this play and went, ‘Shall we just do it?’”

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You can stream Lungs on the Old Vic’s website until 4th July. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.