Gillian Anderson said she had to drown out all of the “preconceptions and opinions” that surround such an infamous historical figure as Margaret Thatcher in order to play her in The Crown.
The Sex Education star makes her debut as the Iron Lady in series four of Peter Morgan’s Netflix drama next month, which will explore Thatcher’s divisive policies and her fractious relationship with the Queen.
“One of the things that I have found in playing historical characters is to put aside all preconceptions and opinions, particularly in regards to Margaret Thatcher ,” Anderson told Variety.
“Because in making choices within scenes or within the arc of the series, one has to have a deep understanding of how they arrived to those decisions, how the character was able to take the actions and develop those attitudes and policies, in [Thatcher’s] case.”
The actress chose to delve into Thatcher’s family life and her relationship with her husband, Dennis Thatcher, on top of her time in politics.
She added that the series doesn’t debate whether Thatcher was a feminist or not, adding: “The conversation about feminism in her world probably wouldn’t have applied to her, I can imagine, given her mindset.”
Meanwhile, Anderson revealed that fans may be surprised to see a more sensitive and emotional side to Thatcher in the upcoming episodes.
“We certainly see another side of Thatcher that has more of an emotional life than perhaps has been seen before,” Anderson said. “For instance, in terms of the episodes where her son goes missing. That is grounded, well-founded and well-documented emotion that she was experiencing at that time, so it doesn’t feel like it’s out of order in a way. It’s a whole portrait. It’s not a one-dimensional portrait.”
When asked about a potential return to the role in later seasons, especially in light of the reappearance of John Lithgow as Winston Churchill in season three of The Crown, Anderson replied: “He returned on his deathbed. I don’t think they’d use that card again. This is the only season [for me].”