Working on 'The Crown' like creating a painting: co-director Benjamin Caron
New Delhi: "The Crown" is not a biopic nor is it a "lookalike show", says co-director Benjamin Caron, comparing the series on the British royals, the planet's most famous and endlessly written about family, to creating a painting or portrait.
The idea is to get to the essence of the characters and find what is "bubbling under the surface", Caron said about the Emmy-winning Netflix series, which premiered in 2016 and has been praised for its unflinching yet balanced portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II, her family and her long reign.
"The series is not a biopic or a lookalike show. We are trying to get the essence of these well-known figures. Working on this show is like creating a painting or a portrait," Caron told PTI in an interview.
The director, who has been attached with the series since its inception and has directed the first few episodes of the upcoming third season, said the royals have always been written about. But "The Crown" stands apart with its great writing and unbiased approach, he added.
"I work with these incredible actors and writers and we try and find out what's wrong. We know what's bubbling underneath. A great piece of writing is never what's on the surface, it's always what's bubbling underneath," Caron said.
As a director, he tries to approach the show with an open mind and understand where these characters come from.
"I look at the story with the character arc in my mind and then it's like directing a play."
The series' first season (1947-1955) covered Queen Elizabeth's (Claire Foy) marriage to Philip (Matt Smith), Duke of Edinburgh and disintegration of Princess Margaret's (Vanessa Kirby) engagement to Peter Townsend. Season two (1956-1964) portrayed the Suez Crisis, retirement of the Queen's third prime minister Harold Macmillan and the birth of Prince Edward.
The third season, also directed by Christian Schwochow, Jessica Hobbs and Samuel Donovan, will span the years from 1964 to 1977 and touch upon the Cold War, Space Age and the royals adapting a more liberal approach, Caron said.
Oscar winner Olivia Colman has been cast to play the Queen, now in her forties, alongside Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, while Helena Bonham Carter essays the role of Princess Margaret.
"One of the best things with the characters we have is that everyone has their own interpretation of these people, their feelings and their motivations. We are all in a way invited to play along with their stories.
"As long as we are able to bring truthfulness to the scenes and really understand where they're coming from, audience will believe us. I don't really have the sort of access to the royal family but I try and make them as truthful as possible," he said.
The show tries to portray the royal family in an unconventional way and Caron credits creator Peter Morgan's in-depth research for it.
"The royal family has always been written about. When I was kid, I used to read so much about them. Artists have always been interested in understanding this part of our history. We all are very much a part of that ongoing conversation around this family and it will continue.
"Audiences are expecting us to bring something to the portrayal of these characters which is beyond conventions. And fortunately we are in Peter Morgan's hands, who has a great track record with the Queen," he said.
Morgan is best known for writing 2006 film "The Queen" on Elizabeth II, starring Helen Mirren in the title role.
"The Crown" returns with its third season on Netflix on November 17.