The casting of Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown” Season 3 has caused something of a continuity controversy given the Oscar-winning actress has brown eyes. Claire Foy, who played the character in the first two seasons of the Netflix smash hit, has blue eyes, correctly matching the color of the real Queen Elizabeth II. Netflix’s first look images for “The Crown” Season 3 confirmed Colman was keeping her brown eye color in the role, but that doesn’t mean the production didn’t try to maintain eye color continuity.
“The Crown” director Ben Caron told The Guardian in a recent interview that the production first tried to use blue contact lenses on Colman to get her to match both Foy and the real Queen Elizabeth II. The problem was that the contact lenses got in the way of Colman’s acting. Caron said it felt as if Colman “was acting behind a mask…It was as if we had taken all of her acting ability and put it in a safe and locked it away.”
When the contact lenses failed, the production came with another idea to change Colman’s eye color in post production. The plan was to apply a blue sheen to Colman’s irises using computer-generated imagery. “The Crown” visual effects team converted Colman’s eye color in one scene to see if it would work for all 10 episodes, but again the eye color change limited Colman’s acting abilities. Caron said this time that “it didn’t feel like her. CGI-ing her eyes seemed to diminish what she was doing.”
After the CGI plan failed, Caron and the production team decided to abandon the plan to change Colman’s eye color. “We always thought it should be Olivia, right from the beginning,” casting director Nina Gold said. “The thing everybody loves about Claire was that she transmits her humanity in a very simple, plain, not-doing-anything kind of a way: you just get it. We felt that was exactly the same thing Olivia does. It’s not about looks—it’s about a quality.”
Colman has experience playing royalty having won the Oscar for “The Favourite,” so it stands to reason that she will nail her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II even if her eyes are the wrong color. “The Crown” Season 3 begins streaming on Netflix starting November 17.