The Crown‘s third season isn’t even a week old, but premature casting rumors about future seasons are already afoot. Yesterday, the Daily Mail reported that Harry Potter actress Imelda Staunton would be taking on the role of Queen Elizabeth II in seasons 5 and 6 of The Crown. The show famously switches casts every two seasons in order to make the characters’ aging feel authentic; Claire Foy played the queen for seasons 1 and 2, and Olivia Colman for 3 and 4.
Netflix denied the report about Staunton with a statement provided to Variety: “We are currently filming season 4 of The Crown but have not commissioned any further seasons as yet, therefore any news on casting remains pure speculation.” However, Deadline is reporting that a source confirmed Staunton is “in talks” for the role.
Despite Netflix’s protestations, The Crown will likely continue for at least six seasons. Back when season 1 premiered in 2016, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said, “The idea is to do this over six decades, in six seasons presumably, and make the whole show over eight to 10 years.” Staunton, for her part, is an inspired choice for the role of the queen. The veteran British actress has four Olivier Awards to her name, as well as a lengthy film and TV resume including Shakespeare in Love, Cranford, and the Downton Abbey movie. She’s most famous for her chilling portrayal of Dolores Umbridge in two Harry Potter films.
But Staunton’s name isn’t the only one connected to the final seasons of The Crown. Helen Mirren has also been floated as a potential candidate for the queen, with Foy telling Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live back in 2017, “I’d put money on” Mirren joining the show.
Mirren won an Oscar in 2007 for playing Queen Elizabeth in The Queen, a film about the effect of Princess Diana’s death on the royal family written by Peter Morgan, creator and showrunner of The Crown. But Mirren said in August that she doesn’t want to return to the role. “I think it’s more interesting when you see other portraits and it builds into a more interesting picture than just someone coming back.”