Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith has revealed a lot more about himself in his latest project, the Netflix original series The Crown (you know, like his bare butt). But the actor won’t let his fleeting touch with royalty forget his time-traveling roots.
Smith, who plays Queen Elizabeth II’s consort Philip Mountbatten, told Variety‘s Debra Birnbaum there are actually a lot of similarities between Prince Philip and the rather eccentric Doctor.
“Interestingly enough, if you take a role I’m most known for, like The Doctor in Doctor Who, they’re both aliens in many ways in their worlds. They’re both outsiders. They same with Bully on Lost River. He’s a bit of an alien in his world.
“I find that often I’m drawn to (these) people who are just slightly on the fringes of the world they’re involved in.”
The Crown, which stars Claire Foy as Elizabeth II, premiered all 10 episodes of its first season over the weekend on Netflix. The rather expensive outing (reportedly costing $100 million for two seasons) highlights the early years of the British monarch, including her relationship with her family, and also with the government led by John Lithgow’s Winston Churchill.
Smith has no idea if the Queen or any of her family will watch, especially Philip, who is now 95 and in a few weeks will celebrate his 69th wedding anniversary with Elizabeth. But he does hope that if Philip or any member of the royal family is watching, they would be OK with what’s portrayed, because he said he did approach his character with respect to the real Philip.
The show from writer Peter Morgan does touch on both the good and the bad, including some rocky years early in the marriage.
“I think there is a tremendous and very profound love between them. It’s most difficult for him to say it sometimes. When you think about the pressure that was on them, she was so young when she came to the throne. He thought their life was going to be in Malta. He was going to be in the navy, and they were going to kick around. But no. That put so much stress as it would on any relationship.
“But deep down, I think they’re total soulmates. And absolutely, there’s a very profound deep connection between them. Which we see grow and grow in the next season.”
That’s right. Although the first season just premiered on Netflix, Morgan and his cast already are filming the second season, which is expected to come out next year, and cover the 1960s.
The next season also is rumored to be spending more time on Philip’s tragic background, something that could highlight Smith even more. Which isn’t bad, considering he plays a character used to staying in the background.
“There was so much about him that I didn’t know. His mother was estranged and was committed to a sanatorium. His father went off with his mistress. His sister died in a plane crash while pregnant while coming to visit him. And then he learned to fly planes, which gives that a new spin, doesn’t it?
“You realize that a lot of his wit and speaking out against things that he thinks aren’t right comes from this very difficult childhood. The first time he really felt at home was when he joined the navy. I felt there was a tremendous courage to him, which I liked.”
Sadly, it seems Smith has no plans to return as The Doctor anytime soon, especially with his plate busy with not just The Crown, but also the I Am Legend-like horror film Patient Zero, set for release next February. He’s also expected to tackle the title role in Mapplethorpe, a biopic of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1989, and known for his boundary-pushing work that had some conservative American institutions questioning what kind of art taxpayer money was funding.
The Crown is now available on Netflix.
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