Gillian Anderson Explains How She Prepared To Play Margaret Thatcher In The Crown

The Crown

Gillian Anderson is swapping one hit Netflix show for another this fall, as the Sex Education star is joining the cast of The Crown for its fourth season in the role of controversial British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The latest trailer for the royal drama’s new run gave us our first proper flavor of Anderson’s performance as the politician – who was previously played to much acclaim by Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady – and now the actress has opened up about how she got into character.

While speaking to Variety, Anderson explained how she tries to put away “all preconceptions and opinions” when she portrays real individuals and focuses on their arc in the story, so that she can fully get into their head.

“One of the things that I have found in playing historical characters is to put aside all preconceptions and opinions, particularly in regards to Margaret Thatcher. Because in making choices within scenes or within the arc of the series, one has to have a deep understanding of how they arrived to those decisions, how the character was able to take the actions and develop those attitudes and policies, in [Thatcher’s] case.”

Thatcher made waves by being the first woman to ever become Prime Minister of Great Britain, but that hasn’t made her the feminist icon you might think, due to the notoriety of many of her policies during her tenure, which caused much unrest in the country. Anderson says that The Crown season 4 won’t really address this debate and the actress’ opinion is that Thatcher wasn’t all that interested in feminism.

“[This season will not] enter into the battle about ‘feminist’ or ‘not feminist.’ As far as [Thatcher] was concerned, she was just putting one foot in front of the other. The conversation about feminism in her world probably wouldn’t have applied to her, I can imagine, given her mindset.”

The recent trailer teased a tense dynamic between Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman), with the two personalities clashing but also both feeling threatened by having another woman in a place of power. Having such great performers like Colman and Anderson bouncing off each other in this way should make for some terrific drama and we’ll get to see them in action when The Crown returns to Netflix for its fourth season – the last to feature Colman in the lead – on November 15th.