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‘The Crown’: Gillian Anderson on the ‘Essential’ Stridency of Margaret Thatcher

Yes, those deep curtseys to Queen Elizabeth were ironic.

Gillian Anderson Margaret Thatcher

Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in “The Crown”

Netflix

There have been many portrayals of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher throughout history, but actress Gillian Anderson is already drawing buzz for her nuanced performance of the controversial woman in Season 4 of Netflix’s “The Crown.”

In a new featurette released by Netflix — and exclusively to previewed on IndieWire — creator Peter Morgan discusses how he divides each season of the series based on the “reign” of the current Prime Minister, which in Thatcher’s case ran from 1979 to 1990. “It was an incredibly formidable time in our political history,” said executive producer Suzanne Mackie. “Britain is troubled, a divided country. It was a time of tremendous pressure and there was something extraordinary about bringing an actress of the scale, and weight, and presence as Gillian Anderson.”

Anderson, herself, said she was especially nervous to take on the role, particularly because of how divisive Thatcher was as a person. Anderson had to change everything for her performance, from the tone of her voice to how she walked. “I think this is one of the hardest roles she’s [Anderson] done,” said director and executive producer Benjamin Caron. He said Anderson spent months researching the character and trying to inhabit the soul of the woman.

“You could just see her becoming that person,” said co-star Olivia Colman. The Oscar-winner praises Anderson for getting the tiny elements of Thatcher’s personality down, from the way she held her handbag to Thatcher’s deep curtsies. “Her [Thatcher’s] physicality is a big part of her and what we remember of her,” Anderson said. “It feels essential to me, to try to get as much right as you can.”

In her “A” review of the season, IndieWire’s Ann Donahue wrote: “The great fear was that the Prime Minister vs. Sovereign face-offs between Anderson and Colman could be reduced to tropes: either “It’s Girl Power time, Tory style!” or “Oooh catfight!” Thankfully, this is avoided entirely by letting both actors show their chops in the most understated and devastating ways at their command.”

You can watch the full video below. Season 4 of “The Crown” is now streaming on Netflix.

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