Glamour: The Crown Star Vanessa Kirby on Being “The Badass Royal” in Netflix’s New Show

Jessica Radloff

November 4, 2016

Article taken from Glamour

She doesn’t have to convince me. The Crown—Netflix’s most expensive original series to date—just dropped at midnight. And considering audiences’ love of the royal family—past and present—this could quickly become one of the streaming service’s most popular series. For Kirby, it was the opportunity to play the role of a lifetime: Princess Margaret. “She’s the badass royal,” Kirby says of Queen Elizabeth II’s younger sister.

“What’s amazing is that you literally get to go behind the curtain on this series and see what Phillip and Elizabeth talk about in bed, what Margaret and Elizabeth fight about, etc. What is it like for a human being that is so firmly [entrenched] in something that there’s no way of ever escaping it? And yet, what if you want to?”

Or, as Netflix tells it, “The Crown tells the inside story of two of the most famous addresses in the world—Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street—and the intrigues, love lives, and machinations behind the great events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.”

So how did Kirby nab this coveted role? And who among the royal family would she most like hit the pub with? Get ready to find out all of that and more, below.

Glamour: Important question first: You were raised in Wimbledon, England. What was that like?

Vanessa Kirby: Wimbledon’s [All England Tennis Club] is almost right at our doorstep, and you can see the courts [from our house]. You kind of get used to it, every summer with the traffic. We all watch it as a family, and you can hear the cheers. It was quite magic to live there. You can hear based on how loud they cheer if it’s Andy Murray [playing]. It’s lovely, [though] I’m not massively sporty. [Laughs]

Glamour: Your mom was the founder of Country Living magazine. Any urge to go into publishing?

Vanessa: My mom was always really literary, and my dad’s a surgeon, actually, but he loved literature so much [too]. We went to see so much theater. I went to so many plays with them. At one point, I just went, “I want to do that.” I really believed it, and I wanted to do it. I did English lit at university, so there was an element of that, but publishing was never for me.

Glamour: Let’s talk about The Crown. You were cast as Princess Margaret after a six-month search. Did producers tell you why they knew you were the one?

Vanessa: It’s a funny little story, actually. I was already cast in a different role on the show—it was a smaller part. They were looking at Margarets who were 18 at the time…well, they didn’t know what they were looking for. Anyway, I’d met Steve [Daldry, Executive Producer], and I loved him and said I’d do this [little] part because I love you. Six months later, a friend of mine mentioned that they hadn’t been able to find [Margaret], and I gasped. It wasn’t arrogant at all—it really wasn’t—but it was one of those lightbulb moments, where I went, “Oh, it’s because it’s me! I think it’s meant to be me!” I ran to my agent and said, “I know this is crazy, but I think I was supposed to be Margaret.” And he rang the amazing casting director, I met everybody again, and I had a screen test.

Glamour: That’s amazing. And it was on your birthday, right?

Vanessa: Yes! [Laughs] I love that you know that! It was April 18, last year, 2015. The next day, I found out it was mine. I just knew it. I’ve had that a couple times with a part, but particularly with this one. I just knew it was me. They were like, “Oh, it’s because we couldn’t find her because it was meant to be you all along.” It was just one of those wonderful, wonderful things, and it felt like a family. It felt totally right from day one. Sometimes you can feel like, “Uh, I’m not quite sure if this is my part,” but this one I knew it was.

Glamour: Growing up outside of London, did you ever meet the royal family?

Vanessa: No, but I am fascinated with them now because of the series. I’m very grateful for that. I was really fascinated with the dynasty and the mythology. We don’t remember what Elizabeth was like at 25, when she had to take the crown, as well as Margaret at 21, a young girl with so much life and promise ahead of her. Suddenly, [their] dad was snatched away from [them], and her sister comes into the center, and she’s—I can’t wait for you to see the rest of the series—it was amazing to play.

Glamour: As Princess Margaret, what real life current royal is she most like?

Vanessa: Prince Harry. The rogue, the naughty one. [I was] always interested in how [that role] affects you psychologically. Elizabeth is the first born and was schooled in a different way [than Margaret]. The King always said, “Elizabeth is my pride, and Margaret is my joy.” And Margaret naturally was, as this personality, far more effervescent and strong and extroverted and crazy and fun and silly. Elizabeth was very sensible and a good country wife in a way. And whether [Prince] William is almost being prepared for being a king more than Harry is…what happens to the younger one? There’s a big showdown with the sisters in episode eight where Margaret says, “You have a role and a clear set of rules, and all you have to do is follow them.” And I’m left to orbit…

Glamour: It’s fun to see though how much Prince Harry has grown and the good he’s doing all over the world.

Vanessa: Exactly. And [Margaret] did too. But she had a much more tragic life than Harry, I think—apart from obviously Harry’s mom, Princess Diana, [dying so tragically]. She’s by far the character that I’ve loved most to play.

Glamour: What was your favorite Margaret moment to shoot?

Vanessa: There’s a very naughty party scene with lots of champagne and dancing and craziness, which is completely different [than] Elizabeth. I literally smoked in every scene, so I made my way through 500 herbal cigarettes a day or something. I was like, “Ugh!” But there’s one really fun scene where she goes into a cold mine and does a live transmission where she says lots of things, politically, that she shouldn’t. Lots of things about her sister that she shouldn’t. She is who she is, and she doesn’t apologize for it. Those are some of my favorite moments.

Glamour: In real life, do you share her badass qualities? Or are you more like Elizabeth?

Vanessa: Oh, bad! [Laughs] I’ve got a younger sister, and it was interesting playing the younger sister, who’s just beautiful and wonderful. I was the one who was like, “You need to help me with this!” I was always bossing my sister around. I was definitely the naughty one and caused a lot of trouble for my parents when I was young, so I can totally relate.

Glamour: Why is it important for women to see more than the “bad girl” or “good girl” stereotype onscreen?

Vanessa: I’ve always been so uninterested in playing any kind of archetype of some pure, innocent, virginal woman. I just don’t believe it. [Writer] Peter [Morgan] did such an amazing job of writing Margaret, but she was a modern woman. She was somebody who wanted to marry a divorcee that had two children who wasn’t a royal, and she does everything she can to try and do that. And that’s what the series looks at, too, is this beautiful love affair that they have. This man is much older than her, and she goes for what she wants. Margaret also loved being in public and this new star in the fashion world and society. She had loads of American friends, and they went out to clubs all the time. Everyone became fascinated with her because she was so different, [as opposed] to being locked up in Buckingham Palace. She was best friends with Elizabeth Taylor—you can see how passionate I am talking about her. She was just amazing.

Glamour: If you could hang out with any royal now, who would you want to spend the day with?

Vanessa: Prince Harry. I have to say that! We’d go to a party! Get in a helicopter and go to a party! I haven’t run into him, but I have friends that know him really well, and they were also at things like his 21st [birthday]. He’s just a really great, wonderful, normal person.

Glamour: What’s the most British thing about you?

Vanessa: Oh, saying bloody all the time, probably. Also, [drinking] tea and apologizing for everything.

Glamour: Is there any American traditions you love?

Vanessa: Thanksgiving, and I like it because being grateful for things is the number one most important thing in life. Actually, at Christmas last year, I made my family write letters to each other. We read them all out, and it was very American—just saying 10 things we’re most grateful for. By the seventh, we’re all like, “I can’t think of anything else!”

The Crown is currently streaming on Netflix.

Script developed by Never Enough Design