Claire Foy shot from relative obscurity to global superstardom when she was cast as a young Queen Elizabeth in the first two series of The Crown. From that perfectly clipped royal accent to her touching – yet subtle – portrayal of a woman who rarely lets emotion overshadow her sense of duty, Foy was widely lauded for her stand-out performance. So much so, in fact, that she scooped up a Golden Globe, Emmy, and SAG award for the role.
Having taken over from Foy to play Elizabeth II as she enters middle age, through Seasons 3 and 4 of The Crown, Olivia Colman added another English monarch to her bow, having previously won acclaim for playing Queen Anne in The Favourite. While the critical reception was more mixed than towards her predecessor, notable moments include Colman’s nuanced portrayal of the Queen’s complicated relationship with Margaret Thatcher, and the royal’s attempts to balance her role as a mother with that of a monarch.
National treasure Helen Mirren was cast as Elizabeth II to star in The Queen, the 2006 film by director Stephen Frears – notably written by Peter Morgan, later of The Crown fame. The action centers on Elizabeth in the wake of the death of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, as she grapples with conflicting opinions about what constitutes an appropriate public response to the tragedy. Mirren won an Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe for her performance, even garnering approval from the monarch herself, who invited the actress to dine at Buckingham Palace. Mirren sadly had to decline, however, as she was filming in South Dakota at the time.
Quite the nostalgic romp, the romantic comedy-drama A Royal Night Out fictionalizes the remarkable true story of the Queen’s experience of VE Day in 1945. Then a young Princess Elizabeth, the royal, and her sister, Princess Margaret, were permitted to sneak out of the Palace incognito, to join in the public revelry after peace was declared. A night of joyful antics follows, in which Sarah Gadon’s portrayal of the good-natured teenage Elizabeth is a touching nod to the kind-hearted monarch that the royal would later become.
Best known for playing Miss Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films, Samantha Bond stepped up to the royal plate to play Her Majesty in the 2018 TV movie, The Queen and I. Based on the novel and play by Sue Townsend, the satirical comedy-drama imagines a reality in which a new republican Prime Minister has stripped the monarch and her family of their wealth and status, relocating them to a rundown cul-de-sac. While not necessarily high art, the film was a humorous imagining of the extraordinary circumstance, in which Bond held her own with some memorably comic moments.
The youngest actor on the list, Freya Wilson played a little Princess Elizabeth in the acclaimed 2010 drama The King’s Speech, about the Queen’s father, King George VI, who called on speech therapist Lionel Logue to help tackle his stammer. Aged just 11 when the film came out, Wilson was a touching addition to the film, in which the love and affection between Elizabeth and her father (memorably rendered by Colin Firth), contributes to the moving, humanizing portrayal of the former King.
Originally published in Tatler.com