Gillian Anderson thought that playing Margaret Thatcher in The Crown would be a “huge stretch but fun”

The star debuted as the former Prime Minister in Season 4

Margaret Thatcher played by Gillian Anderson
(Image credit: Des Willie/Netflix)

Gillian Anderson plays Margaret Thatcher in The Crown so brilliantly, that some might be surprised to learn that she initially thought it would be a “huge stretch”, though “fun” to play her. The Crown Season 4 premiered in November 2020 and quickly had viewers hooked with its depiction of more recent royal events. These included the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and also the premiership of Margaret Thatcher. 

Introduced in this season, Gillian Anderson has received praise for her portrayal of the former Prime Minister. However the actor has recently revealed that she initially thought the part might be a "huge stretch". 

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Gillian spoke of the moment the show’s creator Peter Morgan first mentioned the role to her. “Pete and I were just sitting around one day, and I think he asked me, just out of the blue, whether I thought it was something that I could do,” the star revealed.

“And under usual circumstances, with anything in life, you kind of scan your sense of intuition, and I thought, "Actually, that makes sense to me. I don't know a huge amount about her, but I feel like I get her on a level and it would be fun — a huge stretch but fun," Gillian explained.

She went on to add that: “I felt like I could do her — I felt like I understood where we met and that it wouldn't be too difficult of a stretch.”

How did Gillian Anderson go about playing Margaret Thatcher in The Crown? 

The Crown star Gillian also spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about how her physicality is such a huge piece of getting Thatcher right. Gillian revealed how: "what was the most disconcerting was wanting to make sure that the voice was right".  

The star explained that: “you can have the silhouette and the mannerisms, but if the voice isn't there, the audience is going to go, "Ehhhh." 

The Crown

(Image credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images)

When it came to her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, Gillian continued: "Pete had said early on that it was important that it wasn't mimicry and that there was an element of me that was still in there and that I shouldn’t be afraid to allow an aspect of me to still exist.”

This reportedly helped Gillian, who shared that it “somehow allowed me to relax into it a little bit. Sometimes if it's forced, it can sound pretend or like it's not in you — that it's on top of you, that you're putting it on.”

Since its release of Season 4 on Netflix, some people have questioned The Crown’s use of dramatic license. Some, such as Princess Diana’s brother Earl Spencer, have suggested that the show could carry some form of “warning” highlighting its fictional nature. 

Though it seems viewers can’t get enough of the period drama and many people will be waiting excitedly to see what The Crown Season 5 will bring to screen when it's released. 

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with seven years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.