The royal family drama deals with Princess Diana's death in upcoming episodes.
The Crown costume designer Amy Roberts tells EW that there was an "oddness" about the shoot for the Netflix drama's final season — and, frankly, it would be a right royal surprise if that wasn't the case.
The cast and crew had recently started filming season 6 when Queen Elizabeth II, whose lengthy reign is tracked on the show, died in September 2022, which prompted shooting to be briefly suspended. As Dominic West, who plays Prince Charles on the series, told EW last year, "I'd just flown to Barcelona to shoot my first day of season 6. When I arrived in the hotel, one of the assistant directors said to me, 'Have you heard the news? The Queen's very unwell.' I went up to my hotel room and I just watched the telly for three days and then went home. We didn't shoot at all, out of respect."
The production was also made a strange experience by its subject matter. Creator Peter Morgan devotes the first four episodes of the season to detailing the doomed romance between Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, both of whom died in a 1997 Paris car crash along with their driver Henri Paul. Morgan's decision to track this chapter prompted the media, particularly in the UK, to even more closely scrutinize the series. A story published by The Sun newspaper in October 2022, for example, quoted a "set source" who said that "turning Diana's final days and hours into a drama feels very uncomfortable." In an interview with EW last year, Elizabeth Debicki, who portrays Diana, said that all concerned were handling the show's depiction of the tragedy as thoughtfully as possible. "Peter and the entire crew of this job do their utmost to really handle everything with such sensitivity and truth and complexity, as do actors," the actress said.
All in all, it is no wonder Roberts, who collaborates with associate costume designer Sidonie Roberts on the show, found making season 6 to be a strange experience.
"There was an awful big buzz, which I don't think I'd experienced before," says Roberts, who won an Emmy for her work on the show's season 3 finale. "There was such emphasis on Diana, the rumors were flying around [about] her death, and was it right we were going to do that, were we going to do it? So there was an oddness about it, if that makes sense. Can I say this? I mean, the Queen had died, really died, so it just all felt very odd this season, this final season, if I'm being honest. That's nothing to do with costume, it was just the atmosphere."
The show's movement coach, Polly Bennett, also found working on the season to be an odd experience, in large part because of the nature of the events depicted in the episodes. Bennett's responsibilities included working with Rufus Kampa and Fflyn Edwards, the two young actors playing Prince William and Prince Harry on the season's early episodes, and explains that it was a challenge to put aside her own memories of events like Diana's funeral.
"It's a strange feeling to be working through things that you remember, because you're at odds with what you remember personally," she says. "The other seasons felt more investigative, whereas now I was at odds with my own perceptions. I had to really police that to go, let's look at this footage, let's imagine how this must have felt for these people, and let's investigate what their bodies are doing."
Bennett explains that when she looked at the footage of the real-life princes walking behind Diana's coffin, her job was not to make assumptions about what they were feeling but, "to look for signals. The boys' suits being a little bit too big, they were sort of elevated to being a little bit older than they were, and that's a really big insight for those young actors to think, wear your big-boy suit. So the idea of 'wearing your big-boy suit' gave them that physicality and didn't involve 'you're really sad because your mum passed away.' You're turning it in to something physical and being able to look after those young actors emotionally at the same time."
The first four episodes of The Crown season 6 will premiere on Netflix Nov. 16, with the remaining six episodes debuting on Dec. 14.
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