The Crown star Helena Bonham Carter is “so chuffed” by casting of Lesley Manville as Princess Margaret

Lesley Manville has the seal of approval from Helena Bonham Carter, who is preparing to hand over the cigarette holder as a baton.

The Crown

With filming for season four of The Crown already complete, Helena Bonham Carter is preparing to hand over the role of Princess Margaret to her replacement  – and she has declared herself “so chuffed” by the decision to cast Lesley Manville.

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The Queen’s little sister Margaret was originally played by Vanessa Kirby in the first two seasons of the Netflix drama, with Bonham Carter taking over for the next two. Manville is now set to play Margaret’s older self in seasons five and six.

“It’s like handing a baton, it’s like this race that we’re all running, and Vanessa Kirby was incredibly enthusiastic and kind and generous and gave me lots of tips,” Bonham Carter recalled. “I said, help how do I do this! Because you can get a bit overwhelmed by all the research. And you know it’s conspicuous, you know people are going to watch it, which is a great gift.”

She added: “Lesley, I feel like I should hand her the cigarette holder that I used, as a baton. Over to you, woman.

“She’s going to have a great time with her [Margaret], and I’m so chuffed it’s her, and she’s a great actress, and she’ll have great fun.”

Lesley Manville
Lesley Manville (Getty)
Getty Images

Bonham Carter is now in the running for a Best Supporting Actress BAFTA for her performance as Princess Margaret – following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Vanessa Kirby, who was nominated in 2017 and won in 2018.

“Well, she won a BAFTA too. So I felt like there’s only one way, and that’s down!” Bonham Carter joked.

Looking back on her decision to take the role, she revealed: “I was really scared at first, and I wasn’t immediately like, I’ve got to do it. When you play somebody who everyone thinks that they know, you’ve got that hanging on your shoulder, then you’ve got another person who’s just won a BAFTA, and a great performance, on the other shoulder. So it was pretty scary.

“And I also did the unforgivable thing of asking for a script. Apparently that wasn’t – they said, ‘Well Olivia [Colman] hasn’t asked for a script.’ And I thought, well, I’m sorry! Already the comparisons have started between the two sisters.”

Margaret and Tony in The Crown season 3

Season three was released in November 2019, and – in what must be a massive relief for The Crown’s producers – filming for season four was just about complete by mid-March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

But despite that piece of luck, the lockdown did rob the cast and crew of their chance to celebrate the end of filming.

“It was a dream job. And now it’s over,” Bonham Carter said. “And none of us could say goodbye, sadly… suddenly we’re in lockdown, and we never really said goodbye or thank you.”

She added: “I never have parties, but I was actually going to throw a party. But then it was lockdown. But I will. We will. In time.”

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