The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby On Princess Margaret: “I Just Love That Unapologetic Nature Of Hers”

The British actress spills on the new season of the hit Netflix show

Prepare the finger sandwiches and unleash the corgis; Netflix’s irresistible royal drama The Crown is back for another year. Star Vanessa Kirby—known for her stunning turn as Princess Margaret and set to appear in Mission Impossible 6—sat down with marie claire to talk season two, sexual harassment in Hollywood and just how excited she is for the upcoming royal wedding (it might come as a surprise). 

What was your favourite Princess Margaret story you came across in your research?

There were a lot of first-hand accounts of her being late and outrageous and saying the wrong things and not caring. I just love that unapologetic nature of hers, it’s the coolest. I’ve heard how she would be at dinner parties—this was later on— and once she didn’t like the starter so she just put her cigarette out on it and didn’t say anything. I need to start doing that!

Vanessa Kirby
Vanessa Kirby at the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (Credit: Getty)

Is The Crown cast still like a family after season two? Or are you all sick of each other? 

It was such a family show in the first season, but this season has been about us branching out and really breaking out the palace. Philip goes to Antarctica, the Kennedys come in and Margaret meets photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones. So my family on this season is actually director Benjamin Caron, who’s incredible, and Matt Goode who is also the best. Us three had this little thing and it felt right because Margaret was trying to create her own new family.

How would you describe Margaret’s emotional journey this season? 

She descends into something really painful, and at that point she meets Tony. It wasn’t some sort of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ love story. It’s full of pain and danger and conflict. But also infatuation and electricity, and I think there’s darkness in both of them and they’re both attracted to each other for a lot of those reasons.

Vanessa Kirby Matt Smith
Claire Foy, Matt Smith and Vanessa Kirby (Credit: Getty)

What was your last day on set like?  

Claire [Foy] and I filmed the very last scene of the series and it was quite emotional. I cried but she was okay, she was super cool. And there was champagne! It was very weird taking the wig off for the last time. We kept thinking we’d be back to do re-shoots because we did on the first season, but we didn’t do any this time. It was quite strange, but it was a true honour. Bittersweet.

Did you go method with real champagne and real wine?

No! [laughs]. Margaret always drank whisky as well so it was always a horrible brown coloured watery liquid – nothing fun. And she doesn’t actually drink champagne because she just likes The Famous Grouse, that’s her whisky.

Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones (Credit: Getty)

On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding?

Everyone’s going mad for it! I’m probably a steady five. Not massively, I do not know why. I’m pleased for them but I wonder what it is that makes people so excited. Maybe it’s because it’s like a Prince and someone so different to the royal family—she’s American, she’s on TV, it’s like a completely new age and I guess they get to do what Margaret didn’t.

Exactly! It’s so fascinating that Princess Margaret wasn’t allowed to marry Captain Peter Townsend because he was divorced, but now Princess Harry can marry divorcee Meghan Markle.  

I’m pleased that they get choices. Imagine if Harry wasn’t allowed to marry her? How the nation would respond, how the media would respond? I think at the time Margaret was chased by paparazzi more than Diana was even. It really made the country question the times and what was moral and what was institutional bullocks, basically.

Recently many women have come forward with accounts of sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood. How did those revelations make you feel? 

An incredible liberation. Because it felt like it’s been a long time coming and not just in our industry. I’ve felt proud to be part of an industry that’s begun the conversation. Because if Angelina Jolie talks about it, it’s on the front page, and it opens the doors for other industries for women to feel safer. It’s behaviour that’s been going on for a long time and is just not acceptable. I think we all feel a little bit safer knowing that we can have a voice and if things aren’t okay we can say so and be heard. I’m really proud of it.

Do you have a story of your own to share?

Not specifically, but I’ve spoken to so many women and so many friends with stories.

There’ll be a new cast introduced for season three. Do you have anyone in mind to play Margaret? 

No, oh God! I didn’t allow myself to go there. As soon as you get attached to the idea of one person in a fantasy then it probably won’t be that person. Nina Gold did such an amazing job casting this lot so it’s hard to imagine she’ll get it wrong.

The Crown season two drops on Netflix on December 8.

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