Jonathan Pryce is disappointed by the backlash to The Crown season 5. Known recently for his portrayal of the High Sparrow in Game of Thrones and Pope Francis in the Netflix film The Two Popes, Pryce now succeeds Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in the final two seasons of The Crown. With the recent release of The Crown season 5 trailer, Netflix’s historical drama has landed in some hot water due to its historical inaccuracies.
Most notably, Judi Dench called the series “cruelly unjust to the individuals and damaging to the institution they represent.” The Dame, who is no stranger to royal portrayals, winning an Academy Award for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love and a BAFTA for playing Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown, requested that a disclaimer be added to each episode of The Crown stating the show is a “fictionalised drama.” Netflix responded by adding a disclaimer to The Crown season 5 trailer in the description, but not the actual trailer itself. It remains to be seen if The Crown season 5 carries disclaimers before each episode.
Now, The Crown season 5 stars are responding to the backlash via Deadline, including Pryce who is « bitterly disappointed” by his « fellow artistes” who criticized the drama and demanded it carry a disclaimer, referring to Dench’s comments. Pryce also noted that the heightened criticism towards the Netflix show is « because of an enhanced sensitivity because of the passing of the Queen.” Harry Potter’s Imelda Staunton and Phantom Thread’s Lesley Manville, who play Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret in The Crown season 5 respectively, concur with Pryce’s sentiment. Read what they said below:
Pryce: The vast majority of people know it’s a drama. They’ve been watching it for four seasons.
Manville: There is, and for my part as well, a great deal of compassion towards the Queen, and depths of feeling that she is no longer with us. That has certainly heightened it all.
Staunton: In a way, it is understandable. It is understandable people still feel a bit… like their nerve endings are still a little bit raw. We’re in it… so we don’t think it’s undignified. We think it’s honest and true and respectful. Peter Morgan’s been writing about the Queen since Helen Mirren [was in The Queen]. He obviously adores this family in many ways, and he’ll show both sides of the characters, for good or for worse. He’ll show them and make no judgement, he’ll leave that up to the audience. I wouldn’t be involved with something that I felt was crossing the line. I don’t think the series does at all.
Even before the passing of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, there was already potential for The Crown season 5 to be the show’s most controversial yet. The new season will cover a turbulent time for the Royal family starting with Windsor Castle catching fire to the highly-publicized controversies involving Prince Charles and Princess Diana, eventually culminating in her tragic death. The concerns about The Crown season 5 were only exacerbated by Queen Elizabeth II’s recent death, as noted by Pryce, since many are now examining the show more sensitively.
The controversy surrounding The Crown season 5 boils down to concern over its historical inaccuracies. However, it’s well known the Netflix series is a historical drama that has never claimed to be entirely true to life, especially when it comes to private conversations between royals and politicians behind closed doors. For the most part, The Crown has been respectful about dramatizing the lives of its subjects, some of whom are still alive. Only time will tell how The Crown season 5 handles its sensitive storylines when new episodes release November 9 on Netflix.