“The Crown” is Netflix’s most ambitious production to date, costing $125 million. It tells the story of the beginning of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and has a pedigree that’s hard to ignore. While Claire Foy is getting most of the credit so far for her role as the iconic Queen, there is one performance that we hope Emmy Awards voters don’t forget: Vanessa Kirby, who portrays Elizabeth’s sister Princess Margaret. This English ingenue is deserving of awards attention of her own.
Kirby has been breaking hearts playing the spare to the heir. Largely ignored, Princess Margaret begins a relationship near the start of the season with a divorced Peter Townsend. If you thought you and your sibling had a dysfunctional relationship, Margaret must gain permission from her sister, the Sovereign to marry but Parliament will not allow a member of the royal family to marry a divorced individual. Kirby’s best episode (and what should be her Emmy submission) is the series finale “Gloriana” when she heart-breakingly chooses her duty to her country over the man she loves.
“The Crown” is on an awards roll. It just won Best Drama Series at the Golden Globes, making history as the first Netflix show to do so, and also picked up Best Drama Actress for Claire Foy. The series also just won two SAG Awards: Best Drama Actor (John Lithgow) and Best Drama Actress (Foy).
All 10 episodes for Season 1 were written by Peter Morgan, who won a Golden Globe and was nominated at the Oscars for his original screenplay for “The Queen” (2006), also about Elizabeth II. He received another Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for his adapted screenplay for “Frost/Nixon” (2008). Morgan is an expert at portraying Her Majesty, having also penned the original play “The Audience,” which won Helen Mirren a Tony (2015) to match her Oscar for “The Queen.”
While as expected most of the attention has been about Foy and Lithgow, the critics have praised Kirby’s performance. Daniel Fienberg (The Hollywood Reporter) points out, “Kirby gets to shine by being emotional and feisty as a contrast to Foy’s need to go tentative and calculating.” Ben Travers (IndieWire) praises, “Vanessa Kirby is effortlessly charming and deeply empathetic as Princess Margaret.” Ken Tucker (Yahoo TV) raves, “Certainly the most prominent subplot — Elizabeth’s fraught relationship with her younger sister, Margaret, played with superb asperity by Vanessa Kirby — is a marvelous depiction of conflict and pain.”
Let’s examine the pros and cons of Kirby entering the Emmy race:
With last year’s Drama Supporting Actress winner Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”) no longer eligible and Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Maisie Williams from “Game of Thrones” taking the year off as it will not be airing episodes during the eligibility period, there are four open slots. Also, there is no guarantee that either of the two eligible nominees from last year — Maura Tierney (“The Affair”) and Constance Zimmer (“UnReal”) — will return.
With all the awards love “The Crown” has received, we know the show is being watched. It is possible that it could be the most nominated drama at the Emmys this year. All of this benefits Kirby. If voters are watching the show, then her performance will be seen.
Recently Princess Margaret has made the news as her ex-husband Anthony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon passed away. Articles announcing his passing were linked to the Netflix series and then they shortly announced Armstrong-Jones will be played by Matthew Goode.
“The Crown” has been on an awards roll but it has only scored acting nominations it was expected to receive, leaving Kirby on the sidelines. It is easy to dismiss the Golden Globes snub since that particular category covers all comedies, dramas, limited series and TV movies, while the SAG Awards combine both lead and supporting. But Kirby was also snubbed at the Critics’ Choice Awards even though they nominated Jared Harris (who plays King George VI) for Best Drama Guest Performer.
Kirby, unlike Foy who previously tried to get an Emmy nomination for “Wolf Hall,” is not well known. Kirby’s only appeared in small roles previously, most notably “About Time” (2013) and “Me Before You” (2016). It could be tough for her to stand out on a ballot if voters are not looking for her.
With four open slots, there are several actresses hoping to take advantage. Chief among them is Golden Globe, SAG Award nominee, and Critics’ Choice winner Thandie Newton from “Westworld,” who gives the kind of big scene-stealing performance the Emmys typically love. Also looking to break through are Golden Globe nominees Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz from “This is Us.” Hoping that Williams isn’t the only young actress the Emmys love is Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things,” coming off a SAG Award nomination of her own. Not to mention those looking to get in after being previously ignored: Carrie Coon from “The Leftovers,” Sissy Spacek and Linda Cardelini from “Bloodline,” Paula Malcomson as the title characters’ wife on “Ray Donovan,” Rhea Seehorn as the love interest from “Better Call Saul” and Carly Chaikin, this season’s breakout performance on “Mr. Robot.”
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