Gillian Anderson says she is expecting to divide opinion as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown — and has no plans to rewatch Meryl Streep’s Oscar-winning portrayal of the former Conservative prime minister.
The actress takes the role in the fourth series of the Netflix hit, joining an all-star cast including Olivia Colman as the Queen, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.
Baroness Thatcher, known as “the Iron Lady”, was Britain’s first female prime minister and led the country from 1979 to 1990.
In an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard, Anderson, 51, said: “It is delicate. Regardless of the thoughts or feelings you may have, [this portrayal] is ultimately siphoned through the view of the crown and the Queen.
“I am sure some people will be satisfied and some won’t be. A lot of people have emotions invested in her [Thatcher]. They are invested in their hate or admiration, so I am sure there will be equally a lot of feelings about how she stands up in the series.”
The Golden Globe-winning actress said she had not watched other noted portrayals of Lady Thatcher while preparing for the role — including Streep’s 2011 performance in The Iron Lady.
Gillian Anderson will play Margaret Thatcher in The Crown Season Four, now in production. pic.twitter.com/OVCO8o2bVk— The Crown (@TheCrownNetflix)September 7, 2019
She said: “I saw it when it came out. I don’t recall enough about it to be influenced by it. It is so different. The Crown isn’t a biopic about her [Lady Thatcher].” But she admitted: “I would be interested after I am done, to see what was done.”
She described playing the former prime minister as “a change in pace” from her role in another Netflix hit, Sex Education. She stars as a sex therapist whose teenage son begins dispensing relationship advice to his fellow pupils. Anderson said: “I am glad there wasn’t overlap, that was quite necessary in the filming of it.”
The star, who was born in Chicago but has lived in London for nearly two decades, also spoke about how her fame sometimes hindered her ability to explore the capital. “It is my city,” she said. “Sometimes I get sad I am not immersed in it more. That my schedule means I am in cars on the way to a set and not on my feet in different neighbourhoods.
“When something launches, it is a bit more difficult to be on the street at that time. At other times I can disappear quite easily.” She added: “I keep saying I want to do tours to teach me things about London. Just turn up and join in. I am sure the guide would love that.”
Anderson is the new face of accessories brand Dune London and appears in its spring-summer campaign. It launches next week and shows Anderson posing on a set made to look like a London greasy spoon.