COM­MON TOUCH

Claire Foy off the throne.

Los Angeles Times - - THE ENVELOPE - By Glenn Whipp

Claire Foy has spent most of the last two years play­ing Queen El­iz­a­beth for the Emmy-nom­i­nated Net­flix pe­riod drama “The Crown,” wear­ing tiaras and tar­tan, act­ing with the ut­most re­serve and en­dur­ing loads of ques­tions about whether play­ing a monarch im­proves one’s pos­ture. On the lat­ter front, Foy laughs off any il­lu­sions of re­gal­ity, hap­pily slouch­ing in a leather chair through­out a leisurely in­ter­view at Net­flix’s cu­rated Emmy pro­mo­tional space in Bev­erly Hills. Fresh off a transat­lantic flight, Lon­don to Los An­ge­les, Foy is fam­ished, de­vour­ing a Twix bar, only to find, min­utes later, that some­how the choco­late worked its way into the de­signer trousers she bor­rowed for the evening event, a Q&A with costar Matt Smith and James Cor­den at the film academy’s Sa­muel Gold­wyn The­ater across the street. “I’m such an id­iot!” Foy shouts. “I’ve got choco­late on my bum!” “You know,” she adds, af­ter a cou­ple of min­utes of light dab­bing averts the cri­sis, “if they were my own clothes, I wouldn’t be both­ered. I’d be, like, ‘Eh. Who cares?’ Per­son­ally, my main use of clothes is if I can wipe my hands on it.”

Foy, Ox­ford-trained, ex­tra­or­di­nary as Anne Bo­leyn in the 2015 BBC adap­ta­tion of “Wolf Hall,” Emmy-nom­i­nated for her quiet, con­trolled por­trait of El­iz­a­beth on “The Crown,” im­me­di­ately comes across as an earthy sort. Hav­ing just fin­ished shoot­ing the sec­ond sea­son of Net­flix’s royal drama — each 10-episode run took nine months to film — she has no im­me­di­ate plans to work (“I can’t even con­tem­plate do­ing any­thing at all”) and ea­gerly shares two press­ing, per­sonal goals for her time off.

“I’d re­ally like to go rock climb­ing, not rock climb­ing like Tom Cruise hang­ing off a moun­tain, but, be­cause I’m not phys­i­cally strong or mus­cle-y, I’d like to take that chal­lenge, just a wall, you know,” Foy says. “And I’m go­ing to fly a plane for the first time. I love be­ing in the sky, but I also have a fear of fly­ing. So it’s a weird fas­ci­na­tion.”

Foy clearly likes a chal­lenge, which is why she’s happy that the pro­duc­ers of “The Crown” de­cided to re­cast the en­tire show for the third sea­son, which will jump ahead in time to the 1970s. Play­ing El­iz­a­beth for six years would have pre­sented its own men­tal de­mands, but at age 33, Foy is more in­ter­ested in ex­plor­ing her range than in try­ing to com­bat the com­pla­cency that can set in when work­ing on a lon­grun­ning show.

“I need change, and, not that I think I’ll ever get a part that’s like the queen again, but I need to play some­body who ex­presses them­selves and is able to com­mu­ni­cate on a more open level,” Foy says. “And that’s not El­iz­a­beth.”

In­deed. Although the queen holds the cen­ter of the story in “The Crown,” guid­ing the au­di­ence through the events, El­iz­a­beth doesn’t re­veal her emo­tions freely. You can see her mind mov­ing a mil­lion miles an hour, thanks to Foy’s sub­lime abil­ity to con­vey thought through fa­cial ex­pres­sions, her eyes — “big saucer eyes that are like a win­dow into her soul,” says Dearbhla Walsh, who di­rected Foy in her first lead role, 2008’s “Lit­tle Dor­rit” — reg­is­ter­ing ner­vous­ness, naiveté, a grow­ing

con­fi­dence and a pained res­ig­na­tion to sub­ju­gat­ing de­sire for duty.

Af­ter 10 hour-long episodes, El­iz­a­beth re­mains some­thing of an enigma, a woman caught be­tween cen­turies of tra­di­tion and a long­ing to ful­fill the in­ti­mate prom­ises she made to her­self and her fam­ily.

Don’t look for any dra­matic changes in the show’s sec­ond sea­son, which Foy de­scribes as El­iz­a­beth and her hus­band, Philip, still chaf­ing at his role, fac­ing down the ’60s and the ’60s win­ning ev­ery time.

“It’s a tor­rent com­ing at them, and they don’t know how to cope,” Foy says of up­com­ing episodes, which take place be­tween 1955 and 1964. “They judge it wrongly ev­ery sin­gle time.”

Foy’s fa­vorite episode fo­cuses on John and Jackie Kennedy vis­it­ing Buck­ing­ham Palace in 1961, con­trast­ing the youth of the Kennedys with the roy­als’ mid­dle-aged mopes, one cou­ple em­body­ing a new hope, the other a stag­na­tion.

The women didn’t im­me­di­ately bond, with Jackie telling Gore Vi­dal that she found the queen “pretty heavy go­ing.” But be­yond the cul­ture shock, Foy says, the women shared a strange con­nec­tion in

that they were both the star at­trac­tions, much to their hus­bands’ re­sent­ment.

“I loved the episode be­cause it’s about these two dis­parate women, women who are so very ob­served, com­ing to know each other,” Foy says. “It was such fun to play.”

The only play­ing Foy plans on do­ing now is of the park-and-play­ground va­ri­ety. She has a 2-year-old daugh­ter with her ac­tor hus­band, Stephen Camp­bell Moore. When she learned of her Emmy nom­i­na­tion last month, she was out for an evening walk in Hamp­stead Heath, near their Lon­don home.

Foy shoots down any and all ru­mors about up­com­ing roles. Will she be play­ing Lis­beth Sa­lan­der in “The Girl in the Spi­der’s Web,” the long-de­layed fol­low-up to the 2011 David Fincher film “The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too”? (“Good god, no. I’m not even in the same arena.”) How about star­ring op­po­site Ryan Gosling in Damien Chazelle’s Neil Arm­strong biopic, “First Man”? (“He’s a very spe­cial di­rec­tor and I loved ‘La La Land’ and … I’m not talk­ing!”)

She is­sues the lat­ter de­nial with the sort of en­thu­si­as­tic burst that punc­tu­ates

much of her con­ver­sa­tion. When more food ar­rives, Foy greets each item with un­bri­dled joy — the tan­doori chicken elic­its a gasp, the onion and Stil­ton cheese tart is “amaz­ing!” the cu­cum­ber sand­wiches are “marvelous!” — and you can un­der­stand why she’s ea­ger to move be­yond the prim and proper queen, the woman King Ed­ward nick­named Shirley Tem­ple.

Not that she hasn’t come to love El­iz­a­beth.

“Did you know that I met her once?” Foy asks. “Years and years ago I was in a Charles Dick­ens pro­gram with a thou­sand other peo­ple cel­e­brat­ing the bi­cen­te­nary of his birth. And then I stood in line and my name was shouted out, and I shook her hand. It was re­ally lovely.

“But I came away go­ing, ‘God, they work hard,’ ” Foy adds. “It’s 11 o’clock at night; she was 85, 86. I wouldn’t want my grand­mother up, shak­ing the hands of a thou­sand peo­ple at that time. But that’s her job. It’s all so reg­i­mented. I ad­mire her be­cause not in a mil­lion years could I do that.”

‘It’s 11 o’clock at night . ... I wouldn’t want my grand­mother up, shak­ing the hands ofa thou­sand peo­ple at that time.’ — CLAIRE FOY, on ob­serv­ing the pub­lic life of Queen El­iz­a­beth

CLAIRE

FOY likes to cut loose and ex­plore more than a queen ever could.

Alex Bai­ley Netf lix

CLAIRE FOY por­trays Queen El­iz­a­beth and Matt Smith plays Prince Philip in “The Crown.” Foy says that close study of royal life has taught her that it can be a dif­fi­cult ex­is­tence.

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