Netflix’s The Crown has not cast its next Queen Elizabeth

Netflix’s hear ye, hear ye: BAFTA-winning actor Imelda Staunton has not been cast as The Crown’s next Queen Elizabeth II, according to Netflix. The streamer has quickly moved ahead of the rumours that emerged Thursday, stifling a report in the Daily Mail that Staunton, a venerated British star, was going to play the monarch in the fifth and sixth season of the show when the story line takes another big time jump. The monarch is currently portrayed by Olivia Colman, who grabbed the baton from season one and two star Claire Foy.
“We are currently filming season four of The Crown, but have not commissioned any further seasons as yet, therefore any news on casting remains pure speculation,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Variety.
Well…barring anything outrageous happening, it seems safe to assume Netflix will keep calm and carry on with the fifth and sixth season of the show, which have long been part of the plan. Though we don’t know how many people actually watch, The Crown is one of the streamer’s most costly and high-profile ventures, generating endless chatter with each new casting decision.

Staunton certainly has the pedigree to play the lead. The Oscar-nominated actor and former Downton Abbey star moves easily between indie fare and big-budget projects; to viewers of a certain age, she’ll always be the vicious Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter franchise. So if not Staunton, then who will play Queen Elizabeth? The U.K. is certainly not short on actors who could fill the role, but don’t hold your breath for one in particular: Helen Mirren. The actor has long seemed like the heir apparent to the part. She picked up an Oscar for her portrayal of the queen in 2006’s The Queen (written by The Crown creator Peter Morgan). She also won a Tony in 2015 for playing the queen in Morgan’s play The Audience.

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While she may seem like a natural to take the mantle again (I mean, might as well win an Emmy for the same role and complete this royal triumvirate), Mirren has batted away the question on numerous occasions, claiming it would be “more interesting” to watch another actor try on the part. Do you hear that? That’s the sound of a thousand British actors practicing their posh accents, readying themselves for the role of a lifetime now that pesky Miss Mirren’s outta the way.

Season four of The Crown is currently being filmed. Morgan has not yet let slip what to expect, though it’s been confirmed that Princess Diana (played by Emma Corrin) will make her debut into the story line, as will Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson). “These are two colossal superstars of British 20th-century history,” Morgan told Vanity Fair. “Both women changed the country profoundly.”