The Crown and mild controversy tends to go hand in hand these days, especially now that its narrative has edged closer to the real life royal scandals which have unfolded in recent years. With that in mind, it was only natural that viewers were curious as to how the series would portray Prince Andrew, whose affiliation with convinced sex offender Jeffrey Epstein threw him into the most problematic scandal the family had faced in recent decades.
Despite the fact that this part of Prince Andrew’s life—which came to light in 2019—wouldn’t play out on screen in the 1990s-focussed fifth season, the role itself wasn’t exactly desirable. It was only this year that the Duke of York’s civil lawsuit against Virginia Guiffre, who claimed she was sexually assaulted by Andrew while she was being trafficked by Epstein, was settled for an undisclosed sum out of court.
Any popularity the royal had has all but diminished, his HRH titles have been stripped and his profile has been denounced by his former royal patronages.
“Most actors that get offered a role with a bit of drama [attached], that’s always a creative challenge so I kind of embraced it,” he told marie claire Australia in an interview shortly before the series dropped on November 9.
But Murray was also careful to portray an authentic version of the Prince Andrew that lived in the 1990s, and not the version we know now.
“I was very mindful of the fact that the character and the period we were filming in was very divorced from the character the press were talking about [in recent years],” he explained.
“If you think about it chronologically, you can’t go further forward with the research. So if I’m playing a character in the 90s, I’m not going to be too interested—whether he’s a real character or not—in what he’s going to be doing in 2022 because that person is not the same.”
“You’ve got to get rid of all the present stuff so it doesn’t inform your portrayal of what you’re playing onscreen.”
Murray joins a star-studded cast in the fifth season including Dominic West as his onscreen brother Prince Charles, Australian actor Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana, and the formidable Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II.
It was the latter acting great that Murray bonded with most—particularly in a scene where Andrew alerts the Queen to leaked of photos of his then-estranged wife Sarah Ferguson and her “financial advisor” sharing an intimate moment involving her toes being kissed and, well… sucked.
“It was great fun,” Murray told us.
“Working with Imelda Staunton is always fun, there’s always a healthy dose of humour with her that was wonderful to play off.”
He added that the well-known rumour among royal watchers about Prince Andrew allegedly being his mother’s “favourite” also made his onscreen dynamic with Staunton all the more enjoyable.
“To spark off that idea was great fun, it was a great scene to film.”