As a whole new cast of characters comes to The Crown to portray the royal family, one actor went above and beyond to get the blessing of her counterpart.
Helena Bonham Carter revealed that she enlisted a psychic to contact Princess Margaret to seek her approval on Helena’s portrayal of her.
Helena had actually met Princess Margaret once prior to her death. Princess Margaret died in 2002 after suffering a stroke that was preceded by a number of other medical issues. She was 71 years old. Helena takes over the role on the Netflix hit series from Vanessa Kirby. Coincidentally, Helena was nominated for an Oscar for playing Princess Margaret’s mother.
Helena portrayed the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, in the 2010 film The King’s Speech.
The Guardian reports the lengths Helena went to while preparing for the role. The actress read biographies, spoke to relatives and staff, and consulted an astrologist, a graphologist, and a psychic. Helena spoke about the experience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.
Everyone is excited about the return of The Crown. After two years without new episodes, the Netflix hit returns for season three on November 17. The return brings forward a new cast picking up where we left off.
Season three of The Crown is set between 1964 and 1977. It will also star Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, Ben Daniels as Tony Armstrong-Jones, Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, Marion Bailey as the Queen Mother, and Jason Watkins as Prime Minister Harold Wilson.
Among the new cast of characters is Helena Bonham Carter, who will take over playing Princess Margaret from Vanessa Kirby. Helena has done a lot of work to get ready to take on the role, the Guardian reports.
Helena, who had met Princess Margaret prior to her death in 2002, felt a great responsibility to get the role right. She read biographies, met with the princess’s friends and former staff, and even consulted an astrologer, a graphologist, and a psychic.
She discussed the contact via psychic further at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. “She said, apparently, she was glad it was me. My main thing when you play someone who is real, you kind of want their blessing because you have a responsibility,” Helena explained.
“So I asked her, ‘Are you OK with me playing you?’ and she said, ‘You’re better than the other actress’ … that they were thinking of. They will not admit who it was. It was me and somebody else,” Helena continued.
It was that snarky comment that made Helena a believer. “That made me think maybe she is here, because that is a classic Margaret thing to say. She was really good at complimenting you and putting you down at the same time,” she noted.
The princess even gave her some tips on how to improve the performance. “Then she said, ‘But you’re going to have to brush up and be more groomed and neater.’ Then she said, ‘Get the smoking right. I smoked in a very particular way. Remember that – this is a big note – the cigarette holder was as much a weapon for expression as it was for smoking.’”
Helena also discussed what it was like meeting with friends, family, and staffers who knew Princess Margaret best. “Three ladies-in-waiting, a couple of relatives, a very close relative, and some really close friends. They loved the woman and were very happy to talk about her because they miss her,” she said.
Helena also discussed how she felt the royal was misunderstood. While she was perceived as “angry, rude and tough,” really, “she wasn’t tough at all, she was highly vulnerable and often attack is the best form of defense.”
She also said that Margaret’s anxious habits were very reminiscent of her father, George VI. She even had his stammer. “She smoked throughout her life and she drank. It was like she didn’t have the extra layer of skin,” Helena noted.
Helena recalled Princess Margaret as someone who couldn’t be fake. “She just couldn’t feign, which is an appalling lack when you are famous and you have to meet all these people,” she explained. “Whatever was in her head popped out of her mouth. She was like a time bomb.”
Helena also briefly commented on the relationship between Princess Margaret and her uncle, former Liberal MP Mark Bonham Carter. The two dated briefly when Mark was a Grenadier Guard at Windsor.
“They always remained good friends. I have photos of them together and they look really dashing as a couple. … It was definitely pre-Townsend. They remained forever friends.”
Helena’s portrayal of Princess Margaret isn’t the first time she has portrayed a member of the royal family. She was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, in The King’s Speech.