‘The Crown’: Who is Imelda Staunton?

Many people who have laid eyes on Imelda Staunton know her as a memorable Harry Potter villain. However, she has a long career as a dramatic actress, and she may or may not be about to take the most dramatic of all contemporary English parts: Queen Elizabeth

Reports surfaced in late November that Staunton would follow in the footsteps of Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, taking the key role in the Netflix series The Crown. However, those reports are not necessarily correct..

What has Imelda Staunton done?

Imelda Staunton on the red carpet
Imelda Staunton | Mauro Fagiani/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Staunton’s acting career stretches back more than 40 years to 1976, when she graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. After many roles on the British stage, she began acting for film, appearing in several early films by actor-director Kenneth Branagh, including Peter’s Friends and Much Ado About Nothing. Other notable credits include Sense and Sensibility and a voice role in Chicken Run

A major breakthrough came in the form of Vera Drake, a 2004 drama by the acclaimed director Mike Leigh. Staunton plays the title role of a kindly, quiet woman who secretly performs abortions when they’re very much illegal in 1950’s Britain. She takes no money for the practice, considering it an act of charity, but her secret is uncovered and she faces trial. Staunton received an Oscar nomination, among numerous other honors for the role. 

After that, her career accelerated, with her work including roles in Freedom Writers and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, where she played the loathsome Dolores Umbridge. Other recent roles include Maleficent and its sequel, Downton Abbey and Paddington and its sequel. 

What Imelda Staunton may do for ‘The Crown’

The Crown became one of Netflix’s early successes after that company transitioned from a video store by mail to a streaming outlet, with the series chronicling the role of Queen Elizabeth the second, who ascended to the British throne in 1952. She is now the longest-reigning British monarch, with The Crown covering her life from 1947 onward. 

The first two seasons of the show covered the years 1947 to 1964, with Claire Foy as Elizabeth, The third season of the show, which dropped in November, introduced Olivia Colman to the role, with Coleman being the most recent Oscar winner for The Favourite, playing another queen, Anne. Coleman, like Foy, is expected to play the part for two seasons, with a new actress coming in for seasons 5 and 6, which would presumably take us to the present day. 

Numerous reports, such as this one from Eloti TV, declared that Staunton would be the third Queen Elizabeth in the series. That report states, “Next August, (Staunton) will appear in the West End in the lead role in Hello, Dolly! But in 2021 and 2022 – and possibly even into 2023 – she will be busy filming 20 episodes of The Crown.”

Why Staunton is not a definite yet

Although Staunton would seem to be an imminently logical choice for the part, IndieWire says not so fast. And that’s because Netflix said not so fast. 

“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,” read the statement

As many frustrated viewers of Netflix know, Netflix has gotten happy with its cancellation button lately, pressing it for all of its Marvel shows and even for longtime favorites like Orange is the New Black. It may not make sense to cancel The Crown before the story is finished, but then again, the real Elizabeth’s story isn’t finished just yet. 

The series may well quit after Season 4 because this season reportedly takes the story through the introduction of Lady Diana Spencer. Peter Morgan, the primary writer of The Crown, already told the story of the aftermath of Diana’s death in the movie The Queen, so it would make sense for The Crown to stop before that point.