Robert Sterne interview: ‘The Crown’ casting director
“The pressure was definitely on and we were really excited about getting to the 1980s,” admits four-time Emmy-winning casting director Robert Sterne, who just scored his 14th career nomination, for the acclaimed fourth season of “The Crown.” About the casting challenges, he adds, “We knew that the young Diana was going to be kind of a major event… So the pressure was on to find somebody that was totally amazing for that part.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Sterne above.
“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 season 4, its most acclaimed season to date.
“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.
The show has dominated the awards circuit this year, winning at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, with the show’s cast, Anderson and Corrin also adding a SAG Award to their mantles. Last month, the series scored a staggering 24 Emmy nominations, leading all other programs alongside drama series “The Mandalorian,” and up from 13 nominations for each of its three previous seasons. Perhaps it is not surprising that its nominations haul almost doubled this season, given that it was not only one of the most buzzed-about series on any platform, but also arguably one of the most critically acclaimed, premiering to rapturous reviews stateside and scoring an impressive 96% “certified fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
A huge part of the success of the show, and in particular last season was that the show’s creative team managed to meet the lofty expectations set for the highly anticipated 1980s, a tumultuous and often divisive period of time in recent British history. Sterne agrees that a lot of the season’s success had to do with the revelatory performances that Corrin and Anderson delivered throughout the season. “When Emma came in she just had an amazing connection with the character.,” Sterne recalls. “She loved doing it and there was a kind of joy that she had doing it. We saw her quite a few times for it because we couldn’t believe our eyes and we had to make sure that it was what we were seeing was real and that it was if she could maintain it and sure enough she did.”
As for the pivotal Thatcher character, Sterne admits that it had to be Anderson. “It was a list of one when we started thinking about it,” he reveals. “She’s an incredibly amazing character actress who goes into forensic detail about getting characters that are so far away from herself completely right and that’s what we needed in this case.”