‘The Crown’: Josh O’Connor Says He Finds Fame ‘Overwhelming’ and ‘Unnatural’

The Crown‘s Josh O’Connor is among the group of rising stars in showbiz today. Thanks to his award-winning portrayal of Prince Charles, O’Connor can have any career he wants now, but he will not go down the path many would assume.

O’Connor nearly turned down Charles because of his political views, proving he’ll gladly turn down a role for his own particular beliefs. Right now, his beliefs on stardom are influencing his decision on what kind of a career he’s looking for next.

Josh O’Connor nearly turned down Prince Charles in ‘The Crown’

Now that O’Connor has played Prince Charles in two seasons of The Crown, we can’t picture anyone else playing the character. Speaking to The New York Times, O’Connor says it was almost a possibility.

The Times reported that O’Connor “declined to read for Charles when he was initially asked.” He didn’t know what he’d be able to add to the character. Plus, there were conflicts playing a royal as a “self-described liberal left-winger.” As a Republican, he wasn’t interested in the royal family. There was also the fact that O’Connor couldn’t see “the juice” to Charles.

“I think a bit of me felt that, beyond Prince Charles being a very rich and posh man, what’s the get-in? Where’s the juice to him? Where’s the stuff?” O’Connor told The Guardian.

To win him over, The Crown creator Peter Morgan read him a scene from the season, one where Charles says, “I’m essentially waiting for my mother to die in order for my life to take meaning.” That line alone changed O’Connor’s mind. “I read that line and I was like, ‘Well, that’s enough to get your teeth into,'” he told The Times.

Playing an “unheard” Charles was intriguing for O’Connor. “We were telling a kind of unheard, voiceless Charles. But that’s the beauty of it, that’s where he struggles: He doesn’t feel listened to.” After signing on, O’Connor went into rigorous research. He even made a Prince Charles scrapbook to get into character.

RELATED: Why This ‘the Crown’ Actor Is ‘in Love’ With Prince Charles

Josh O’Connor was surprised by all the fame he got from ‘The Crown’

When season 4 of The Crown premiered, O’Connor didn’t think anyone would watch. After it premiered, there was a buzz that surrounded the show, and it surprised him. Speaking to The Evening Standard, O’Connor says his life quickly changed after that. “It’s definitely a different life now,” he says.

He can’t believe the success he’s gotten either. “I’d watched series one and two which were such a huge success, and seeing how people responded to Claire’s [Foy] portrayal of the Queen and Matt’s [Smith] portrayal of Prince Philip, I knew there was an appetite for seeing another side of this family which we are so fascinated by. But I’m always surprised and slightly taken aback if I do anything and people like it.”

O’Connor received a Golden Globe Award for playing Prince Charles. It’s nice having success, but the fame that’s come with it isn’t welcome. In fact, O’Connor wants it to go away.

“It’s overwhelming,” he says. “It’s an unnatural phenomenon for me. I had this cool conversation a few weeks ago, it was part of an actors-talking-to-actors thing, and it was me and Ewan McGregor. One of the questions was about fame, and hearing someone like him who’s been in the public eye for so long talking was fascinating. On the one hand, it’s terrifying and sort of strange to be recognised, but on the other, it comes from a place of respect and appreciation of your work, and that’s a really nice thing. It doesn’t matter who you are, it takes some adapting.”

O’Connor hasn’t had time to adapt to his sudden fame, however.

Josh O'Connor at the premiere of season 3 of 'The Crown.'
Josh O’Connor | ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images

RELATED: ‘The Crown’: Why Josh O’Connor Doesn’t Think Fans Will Like Prince Charles in Season 4

Josh O’Connor’s next move is to retreat from the spotlight

Usually, after an actor receives the success as O’Connor’s recently received, it means big things. More than likely, things like Marvel or maybe even more award-winning roles. Not for O’Connor. He’s going a bit backwards and plans to retreat from the spotlight. He doesn’t enjoy the level of fame he’s gotten from The Crown, so he’s taking on smaller roles outside the mainstream.

Instead of taking on another franchise, he wants low-budget independent projects and stage roles. “I’ve always wanted to do indie films,” he says. “I took The Crown not because I saw it as a stepping stone, I found that character fascinating. Now I’m back to where I was before. I’m excited about doing theatre and making independent movies. I’m not doing Bond, and I’m not going down the old Marvel route yet.”

O’Connor’s just moved to New York and looks forward to a “quieter” life. He’s even taking a ceramics course. So, it seems as if we’ll have to look real hard for O’Connor’s next role. There’s something really refreshing about his decision not to do what the mainstream expects of him, although we would like to see him in more things.