'The Crown' season 3: Marion Bailey says stepping into Victoria Hamilton's shoes as Queen Mother is a 'tough act to follow'
In an interview with MEAWW, Marion Bailey sheds light on playing the Queen Mother in seasons three and four of 'The Crown' and how she approached the role
Lifting the curtain on the British royal family, 'The Crown' lights up the small screen with the essence of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. As the show takes a leap into the era of 1964 to 1970, Marion Bailey has succeeded Victoria Hamilton as Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
With her roots firmly set in her hometown Watford, England in UK, Bailey seems to be the right choice for the character. Her elegance and poise in films like 'Vera Drake' (2004), 'Mr Turner' (2014) and 'Allied' (2016) only add to her new semblance.
In an interview with MEA WorldWide, Bailey sheds light on playing the Queen Mother and how she was approached for it. Brimming with zest, she says, "A few years ago, I played the Queen in a Moira Buffini play 'Handbagged' at what’s now the Kiln Theatre and then in the West End, so I guess that may have put me in the frame. It, of course, took no more than a nano-second to say yes when I was offered the gig."
Filling in big shoes
Prominently known for her collaboration with husband-filmmaker Mike Leigh, the actress was nominated for Supporting Actress of the Year by the London Film Critics' Circle for her role in 'Mr Turner'. It would be an understatement then to say that she breathes life into the characters she portrays on celluloid.
What was the preparation like for playing the Queen Mother in the show? Did Bailey set her eyes on a bunch of pictures and clips of Queen Elizabeth from her late years?
"I read everything I could lay my hands on and tried to watch as much footage that I could find online. YouTube makes life a lot easier," she reveals, adding, "Sadly, there are very few recordings of the Queen Mother speaking, but I tried to track down what little there is."
Delving deeper into how her days at the sets are like, she says, "Before I start filming for the day, I get the headphones on for a quick listen. Then while I get into my costume, I listen to 'Whispering Grass' by the Inkspots, which I read somewhere was one of her favourites."
Casting a spell
Bailey has a marvelous and varied resume of film, television and theatrical productions to her name and 'The Crown' is like a feather in the cap. In a statement, she had earlier said, "It is wonderful to be joining 'The Crown'. It's a brilliant show and we have a tough act to follow but what a gift to be playing the fascinating and greatly loved Queen Mother. Thrilled to be on board and working with such a top-notch team."
While Hamilton portrayed Queen Mother in the years 1947 to 1963 on the show, did she have any takeaways from her performance?
Confessing that she didn't get to "chat" with Victoria about the nuances of the character, the 68-year-old actress said, "I didn’t get to chat to Victoria, but I’d watched every episode of the first two seasons and all those guys gave great performances."
Calling it a "tough act to follow", she added, "On the other hand, we have to make it our own and can only hope we’re doing justice to such remarkable and fascinating characters."
Mum's the word!
On the show, Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II's relationship has a deep-rooted connection. The strong-headed women held their ground in a whirlwind of chaotic circumstances and state of affairs. As it is one of the most important dynamics on the show, Bailey spills the beans on her rapport with Olivia Colman who has been newly cast as Queen Elizabeth II. "Olivia is a top woman on and off set and an absolute pleasure to work with," she says, adding, "It’s altogether a terrific cast. We have a right good time and I’m lucky to be on board. What more can I say?"
Elucidating the aura on sets and her association with show creator Peter Morgan, Bailey further adds: "Peter’s scripts are a joy to act. Any deviations are entirely unintentional!"
In the offing
Not just 'The Crown', Bailey has a few surprises lined up for her fans. "I’ll be appearing in two forthcoming television series," she says. Spilling the names, she adds: 'Britannia' and 'Temple' — both of which will be a bit special I think. I’ve also been working on a British film 'Brighton', in which I play an extremely fat, 60 something, loud and foul mouthed East End rockabilly." On a lighthearted note, she adds: "Just to ring the changes after Queen Mother!"
While 'Britannia' is a historical fantasy series written by Jez Butterworth that was renewed for second season in March 2018, 'Temple' is an upcoming Sky One television series which is a remake of a Norwegian TV Series called 'Valkyrien'.
As viewers await the third season with the all-new cast, watching Bailey light up the screen as Queen Mother sounds like a delightful affair!