Far from being upset at passing on the baton of his Prince Charles role, The Crown star Josh O’Connor hints there’s some relief in not playing the heir-apparent as his marriage to Princess Diana completely falls apart.
O’Connor, 30, says his two seasons in the global hit Netflix series have been “lovely”, but he told Radio Times magazine there was an upside to leaving the role at the end of season four.
He said: “You know there have been a hundred people who have played Richard II before you and there are going to be a hundred others who play him after you. It somewhat takes away the pressure to pass it on, and I’m sure whoever takes over from me will do a terrific job. It’s lovely to have had a chance to play him.”
Dominic West is rumoured to be playing Prince Charles in season five as The Crown reaches the 1990s and Charles’ and Diana’s marriage disintegrates. But first we see a young couple who are genuinely enamoured with each other before the cracks began to appear as Diana’s public popularity rapidly increased.
O’Connor was conscious of making Charles’ understandably resentful reaction sympathetic.
“It didn’t rest well with me that Charles was just jealous of fame or celebrity,” he said. “The jealousy was that Diana had this God’s gift: people felt like they knew her and Charles just didn’t have that.
“When Diana’s unhappy, he feels angry and frustrated that she can’t just do what his family have done for generations and keep a stiff upper lip.
“The unkind moments of Charles are not too dissimilar to the way Philip talked to him in series three. It’s the bullied turning into the bully. You can track back and see where it has come from.”
Key moments in their relationship are depicted in season four, from her memorable dance with [dancer and choreographer] Wayne Sleep to the wedding preparations and the infamous engagement interview, when they were asked if they were “in love”.
“The ‘whatever “in love” means’ scene [Charles’s answer to the question] offers context for the rest of the series and people like those moments,” said O’Connor.
The Crown doesn’t recreate the wedding itself (watched globally by an incredible audience of 750 million) because it was less interesting dramatically than the preparation, he said.
“The moments that punctuate the series, those public moments we all recognise, bring you back to reality from a place of fiction. But at the wedding itself, they were on their best behaviour, so it’s not as interesting as the wedding rehearsal, which had tensions, and that we do see.”
The Crown season four will stream on Netflix from Sunday 15th November.
Read the cover interview with O’Connor and Emma Corrin in full in Radio Times magazine, on sale from Tuesday 10th November.
Read RadioTimes.com‘s 4-star review of season four of The Crown.