The Crown is a savour for me so I did not burn through all of season four yesterday. But I did watch the first three episodes and then I rewatched over and over again specific scenes from the first three episodes. (Sarah’s review of the new season is coming later this week.) There’s so much painstaking attention to detail on this show and, of course, because Princess Diana is introduced this season, and so many of us are so familiar with the Diana imagery, it’s almost too much to fully absorb in just one pass. I don’t want to rush through it, as tempting as it is. Especially since this season seems to be a return to form. Seasons two and three were fine, but season four is crackling with the kind of tension that made season one so absorbing. And this, also, is the season that seems on the surface to be most relevant to what’s happening now.
Previously on The Crown, it was a generous portrayal of the British royal family, the Queen in particular. This time around, the storytelling is finally taking a critical approach to Her Majesty’s stewardship of the brand and whether or not it can meet the mood of the time. During many moments of the three episodes I’ve watched so far, the Queen and the royals look like assholes, insensitive and willfully obstinate at best, cruelly entitled at worst. And it’s not like, you know, they’re not still being criticised in some corners for the same these days. In these times of change and disruption, have the British royals been able to read the room?
So they’re pressed. There were several stories in the British papers yesterday that included sourcing from royal defenders, dragging The Crown for its depiction of the senior British royals and Princess Diana. And as we’ve seen over the last couple of years, whenever they need to deflect from their own issues, they now have two people they can throw under the bus. So of course they’re selling out Prince Harry and Meghan Markle again.
Will their objection to The Crown only increase The Crown’s popularity and notoriety though? The controversy won’t hurt the series, it’ll only add to the intrigue – which is already at an all-time high given Diana’s presence. And with award season coming up, that’s only going to continue through the coming weeks. Everything’s been pushed back but we’re in November, it’s not that far away now. For example, the Golden Globe deadline is November 30. The nominations will be announced February 3. The Screen Actors Guild nominations are happening the next day, on February 4. The Crown is the SAG’s reigning Best Ensemble Cast. Award shows are obsessed with The Crown. So they’re looking well-positioned to go for back-to-back wins. Especially this year, when a lot of people have to stay home more than they’ve stayed home in years past with so much more time to watch everything, so many people will be binge-watching The Crown over the holidays. And falling in love with Emma Corrin’s portrait of Diana, Princess of Wales. Think of how many times Claire Foy stepped on stage to accept awards for playing the Queen. Will it be the same for Emma and Diana?
She’s incredible. And for sure much of it has to do with the work of the costume designers and the hair and makeup team for getting her there physically. But it’s one thing to look the part, it’s entirely another to inhabit it. Consider that the first time Diana appears on screen in The Crown, you can’t really see her, certainly not her face. Instead, it’s her voice that hits you first. And Emma f-cking nails the voice: low, sweet, sometimes hesitant, but also mysterious. Diana had a particular way of dropping off at the end of a sentence that was at once doubtful but at the same time irresistibly enigmatic. And then there was the way she dipped her chin and looked up through her fringe. It was shy and flirty. It was beguiling. It was captivating. It captivated the entire planet.
And that was the dichotomy of Diana. She was vulnerable. She was manipulative. She was all heart. But she made mistakes. She was courageous. She was impulsive. She was compassionate. And she was vain!
She may not have understood at the beginning how to use a photograph but she learned quickly. You would have to when you’re being watched constantly by the world. So to go back to that signature way she peered out from behind her hair, with her head tilts and her chin lowered…
Princess Diana knew her angles! She worked the sh-t out of her angles. Princess Diana was a selfie queen before we even knew what selfies were. And Emma Corrin locks into this perfectly. This performance is not just an impression, a surface imitation, but an essence, a spiritual understanding of the meaning and intention behind the gestures. It’s an outstanding achievement. Because can you imagine this task? To play someone known by everyone and no one?
That’s the show your work of Emma Corrin. This is how Emma Corrin has announced herself to the industry.
Much more on Emma and The Crown to come. For now, read Emma’s new interview with British GQ about her breakthrough role.
Yours in gossip,