Lee Walpole interview: ‘The Crown’ sound editor

“The show is a character-driven dialogue-lead show and so it’s really important that the sound serves a story but doesn’t get in the way of the story,” explains Emmy-winning supervising sound editor and re-recording sound mixer Lee Walpole. He just earned his fourth career Emmy nomination, this time for his work on season 4 of “The Crown,” which he shares with collaborators Stuart Hilliker, Martin Jensen and Chris Ashworth. “It’s not flashy, it’s not  ‘crash bang wallop,” he says. “The show is letting you into a world of opulence and decadence, so we’re trying to achieve that sound across every level,” he says. Watch our exclusive video interview with Walpole above.

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“The Crown,” was created by Oscar, Emmy and Tony-nominated writer Peter Morgan, who is now in production on the show’s anticipated fifth season. After three seasons in which “The Crown” focused on the earlier years of the Queen’s reign as monarch, it returned late last year for o\its highly anticipated fourth season.

“The Crown” uniquely reinvents itself every two seasons by replacing the main cast, as the royal family continue to evolve and age over time. The last two seasons have starred Oscar winner and Emmy nominee Olivia Colman, who replaced Emmy winner Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II,  Emmy nominee Tobias Menzies, who replaced Emmy nominee Matt Smith as Prince Phillip, Oscar and Emmy nominee Helena Bonham Carter, who replaced Oscar and Emmy nominee Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. Season 3 saw a raft of new characters join the fold, like Emmy nominee Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles, Oscar winner and Emmy nominee Emereld Fennell as Camilla Parker-Bowles and Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, while season 4 introduced Emmy nominee Emma Corrin as Princess Diana and Emmy winner Gillian Anderson as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

After dominating the awards circuit this year, the series scored a staggering field-leading 24 Emmy nominations, up from 13 nominations for each of its three previous seasons. Unsurprisingly, it almost doubled its nominations haul this season, given that it was one of the most buzzed-about and critically acclaimed series of the year, premiering to rapturous reviews stateside and scoring an impressive 96% “certified fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

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Walpole and team submitted the fourth episode “Fairytale” for Emmy consideration, which introduces us to a young Lady Diana Spencer and her starry-eyed courtship with a young Prince of Wales. The episode is one of the highlights of the season because it so effectively embodies the “fly on the wall” construct that this series does so well, in which the audience is invited in to the hallowed halls of Buckingham Palace to watch and listen in on what might’ve transpired between the iconic and often enigmatic royals behind the glare of cameras and the public eye.

For Walpole, the subtlety and precision of the sound mix is always paramount, meticulously balancing the crispness of the dialogue with ambient and external sounds that are layered in to ramp up tension and evoke or contribute to the emotion of any given scene. “Every moment in the show can’t be the key moment so you’ve got to kind of pick out what are the moments that you really want to achieve and and then you put everything else back slightly from there to allow that those moments to really land,” he explains. “It’s the eternal battle of wanting to have subtlety but not being so subtle that it doesn’t work for someone sat at home, you know, listening from a TV rather than on headphones,” he adds. “So, we’re always very mindful of that.”

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UPLOADED Aug 12, 2021 1:30 pm