Elizabeth Debicki has said she feels like audiences know The Crown is “clearly fictional” as she responded to criticism of how certain storylines are depicted.
The 32-year-old Australian actress will portray Diana, Princess of Wales in the fifth series of the hit Netflix drama, which is set to land on November 9.
Ahead of the series release, former prime ministers Sir John Major and Sir Tony Blair have hit out at their depiction while Dame Judi Dench called for a disclaimer to be added to each episode, saying it has begun to verge on “crude sensationalism”.
Asked whether she felt defensive to the criticism in an interview with the Guardian, she said: “I don’t really. I understand what the show is and what it’s trying to do.
“I also understand the reaction to it. I think this is a period of time that’s been told many times over and will continue to be told, and I know the degree of care and respect people enter into these stories with.”
The actress feels in her mind the show is a television drama, based on real events.
“I mean, it is clearly fictional. I feel like audiences know that, because there are actors, playing parts,” she added.
“I never watched The Crown and thought, ‘this is a documentary’ or ‘this is obviously true’.”
Sir John recently wrote a letter to The Telegraph responding to the upcoming fifth series which is expected to show Charles, played by Dominic West, cutting short a holiday with Diana to host a secret meeting with Sir John at Highgrove in 1991, at which they discuss potentially ousting the Queen.
The former prime minister wrote that it “will be profoundly hurtful to a family who are still grieving for the very person on whose life the entire drama was founded”.
Charles is reportedly shown trying to recruit Sir Tony as an ally to protect his future and pave the way for him to marry Camilla, shortly after the 1997 general election which saw Sir Tony become the Labour prime minister.
Sir Tony’s spokesman told the publication: “It should come as no surprise that this is complete and utter rubbish.”
Last month, stage and screen veteran Dame Judi called for a disclaimer to be added to each episode of The Crown as she felt there was a risk that “a significant number of viewers” will take its events as historical truth.
Netflix added a disclaimer to the description of the latest trailer but stopped short of adding the message to the trailer itself.
It already described the show as “fictionalised drama” in its press materials, on social media and on The Crown’s landing page on its platform.
For the upcoming fifth and the final sixth series, Debicki is taking over the role of Diana, who Emma Corrin portrayed in series four.
The series will see her dramatise sensitive scenes including Diana’s divorce from Charles and the infamous Panorama interview with former BBC journalist Martin Bashir.
Debicki said that despite the sensitivity of the role and knowing it would bring intense scrutiny on her, she was never reluctant on joining the show.
“I went off instinct and I didn’t overthink it. I’ve watched this show and loved it for years,” she said.
“I knew I was stepping into working with people who were extremely intelligent and very sensitive about how they went about creating the script and making decisions.
“So, I never felt like I’d jumped on unstable ground.”