15 Awfully Big Facts About The Mary Tyler Moore Show


Loyal viewers who grew up watching the independent, intelligent, and perky career woman named Mary Richards always knew that she would make it after all. Younger folks who’ve only seen the show in reruns likely don’t realize just how groundbreaking The Mary Tyler Moore Show was. While some of the scenarios presented seem dated by today’s standards, the show's portrayal of how women in general, and single women in particular, were treated in the workplace—and by society—was very accurate for that time. Fortunately for future single working women TV characters like Elaine Benes and Liz Lemon, our Mare had spunk!

1. A Dick Van Dyke show (no, not that one) helped to launch Mary’s solo sitcom career.

When The Dick Van Dyke Show ended in 1966, Mary Tyler Moore was poised to make the leap into films. She had inked a deal with Universal Pictures and starred in three features in rapid succession, only one of which (Thoroughly Modern Millie, with Julie Andrews) won critical praise and performed well at the box office. With her marquee value fading, Moore leaped at the offer to reunite with her old co-star in the 1969 CBS variety special Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman. The show was written by Sam Denoff and Bill Persky, the same duo who’d written for Van Dyke’s sitcom; their inspiration for the special was a minor complaint Van Dyke's wife, Marjorie, once made—that very often, when she was out in public with her husband, she’d hear comments about him “cheating” on Laura (Moore). The special was a critical and ratings success, and based on the strength of those Nielsen numbers, CBS offered Moore a half-hour slot on their network with a guarantee of 24 episodes, no pilot necessary.

2. Mary Richards was originally a divorcée.

When the creative team behind The Mary Tyler Moore Show was originally brainstorming the concept, they envisioned Mary Richards as a recently divorced 30-year-old who had moved to a new apartment and needed to find a job after her husband had left her. But CBS network researchers warned series co-creator Allan Burns that there were four things viewers (especially the all-important “mainstream audience in Peoria”) would never accept in their living rooms and which could spell early death for a TV show: New Yorkers, Jews, divorced women, and men with mustaches.

Despite the warning, Burns and his staff kept the brash Jewish New York-transplant Rhoda character (played by Valerie Harper), who originally tested poorly with audiences but who softened up after a few episodes. They did acquiesce on the divorcée angle, though, after preview audiences (who couldn’t distinguish between Mary Tyler Moore and Laura Petrie, her character from The Dick Van Dyke Show) openly reviled Mary for leaving a nice guy like Dick Van Dyke. Instead they made Mary a woman who had recently broken off a two-year long engagement and was looking to start life anew, in her own apartment, supporting herself, and being unencumbered by a relationship.

3. The MTM kitten was found in a Minneapolis shelter.

It was Grant Tinker’s (Moore’s then-husband) idea to name their new production company MTM Enterprises, and Moore didn’t argue since that meant her name was the company. The similarity to MGM hadn’t gone unnoticed and during an early staff meeting someone suggested that since MTM was a small company, wouldn’t it be cute to have a kitten meow like the MGM lion? A staffer visited an animal shelter in Minneapolis and found several orange kittens (they wanted a cat with a fur color similar to a lion's) and chose the one with the loudest “mew.” The kitten was named Mimsie and she appeared in many different forms in the production tags of various MTM shows. A crew member adopted her and took her home to San Bernardino, where Mimsie lived until the ripe old age of 20.

4. Gavin MacLeod auditioned for the role of Lou Grant.

Allan See started losing his hair at age 18, while he was studying drama at New York’s Ithaca College. By the time he graduated he was pretty much bald, which limited his roles as an actor. He changed his name to Gavin MacLeod and maintained a fairly steady career playing heavies, thanks to his bald pate and bulky physique. MTM co-founder Grant Tinker invited MacLeod to audition for the role of Lou Grant, which he did, but afterward he asked to read for the role of Mary’s co-worker, Murray Slaughter. He thought he could bring more to the affable Murray character than the gruff and imposing Lou. The producers agreed with him after Ed Asner tested for the role of Mary’s boss.

5. The producers had Jack Cassidy in mind when they created the character of Ted Baxter.

But Cassidy turned them down, having just played an egomaniacal pretty-boy actor on the sitcom He & She. He wasn’t looking to get typecast as a hammy buffoon. The role went to Ted Knight instead. Once The Mary Tyler Moore Show became a hit, however, Cassidy changed his mind and appeared as Ted’s preening egotistical brother, Hal, in the episode “Cover Boy.”

6. Ted Knight was living paycheck-to-paycheck when he was cast as Ted Baxter.

The second choice for the role of the anchorman was Lyle Waggoner, but he was happily ensconced on The Carol Burnett Show and had no desire to leave a successful series for an untested one. Jennifer Aniston’s father, John, read for the part of Ted and was called back twice, but the producers were not quite sure he was “the one." Producer Dave Davis happened to see Ted Knight performing in a local production of the Broadway comedy You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running and reported to the rest of the team that Knight was hilarious and that they should have him read for the role of Ted Baxter.

Even though the silver-haired Knight was a far cry from the hunky heartthrob-type they originally had in mind, Knight came to the audition wearing an anchorman-style blue blazer he had purchased from a thrift store with part of his rent money and impressed them with his booming voice and comedic chops. During that brief reading, he brought some layers to the anchorman character (cocky and arrogant on the outside, but secretly vulnerable and very human) that impressed the MTM staff and inspired some new newsroom story ideas for the show.

7. Ted Knight hated being confused with “Ted Baxter” and almost quit the show.

Midway through the show's third season, Ted Knight walked into co-creator Allan Burns’ office before the start of rehearsal with tears running down his face. Alarmed, Burns ran from behind his desk to embrace the actor and ask what was wrong. “I can’t do it,” Knight cried. “I can’t play Ted Baxter anymore. Everybody thinks I’m stupid and I’m not. I’m intelligent and well-read, but everyone treats me like I’m a schmuck.” Burns consoled Knight, giving him examples of other great comedic actors who were nothing like the characters they played. Knight eventually composed himself and turned to go out to the stage for rehearsal when co-creator James L. Brooks walked into the room and congenially slapped the actor on the back, greeting him with “Ah, Ted—the world’s favorite schmuck.”

Luckily, Knight soldiered on. As the series progressed, his character found a girlfriend, got married, and had the occasional “very special” episode to remind the audience that he wasn’t all bluster and buffoonery.

8. Hazel Frederick was seen in every single episode of the series.

Hazel who? Picture it: It was a cold, blustery day in downtown Minneapolis in 1969, and Hazel was out doing her shopping at Donaldson’s Department Store. She exited the store and proceeded across Nicollet Avenue, one of the busiest streets in the city.  She noticed an attractive young brunette walking ahead of her into traffic. The woman suddenly stopped and gleefully tossed her hat into the air. That brunette was Mary Tyler Moore, and a film crew (using hidden equipment in order to be unobtrusive and keep the scene more natural) was recording her hat toss for the opening credits of her upcoming new show. To make it more realistic, traffic wasn’t halted, and Mare had to negotiate her own way across the street for that famous freeze frame. (That’s Hazel Frederick between the “James” and the “And.”)


9. Mary Richards was “evicted” from her old apartment.

For the first five seasons of the show, Mary Richards lived in Apartment D, located inside an 1892 Queen Anne Victorian home outfitted with Palladian windows and an iron balcony. Paula Giese, who owned the house with her husband at the time, claimed that she’d been told the exterior shots of her house would be used for a documentary that would be aired one time, not for a TV series. Once The Mary Tyler Moore Show became a hit, Giese was inundated with visitors at all hours of the day and night ringing her doorbell to ask if “Mary” was home. Eventually tour buses full of fans showed up on her curb.

In the spring of 1973 the Gieses got word that MTM producers would be back in the area to film more outdoor shots of their house for future use in the opening credits. Paula, a local political activist, immediately hung a series of "Impeach Nixon" banners on the outside of her home to discourage the cameramen. Her tactic worked, and Mary Richards moved to a new high-rise early in season six.

10. Valerie Harper almost didn’t get the role of Rhoda because she was too attractive.

The character of Rhoda, Mary’s neighbor and eventual best friend, was originally described as “a self-made loser—overweight, not good with hair and make-up, and self-deprecating.” Of all the actresses who tested for the role, Valerie Harper was the producers' hands-down favorite. But there was one problem: she was beautiful. The producers asked her to “frump herself up a bit” for her second reading, but she still looked too pretty. So, just like the characters of Ted Baxter and Murray Slaughter, the producers rethought the character to suit the actor. They decided that even if she was attractive, they’d make Rhoda the type of woman who didn’t think she was and who regularly put herself down.

11. The script supervisor (and Phyllis’s daughter) rescued the pilot episode.

The MTM brass made the unusual decision to perform the premiere episode twice; first they would invite a studio audience in to watch the dress rehearsal on Tuesday, and they would also have tape in the cameras recording it so that the cast and production staff could watch and evaluate it prior to Friday’s actual filming. The actors went through their paces but weren’t getting the laughs that they were expecting. A post-show poll of the audience revealed that they hated Rhoda, thought she was too mean to sweet Mary in the opening scene, and that perception left a pall over the rest of the episode.

While the writers were frantically trying to find a fix for their show without having to do a major overhaul, script supervisor Marjorie Mullen came up with an idea: The show opened with Phyllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman) and her young daughter, Bess (Lisa Gerritsen), showing Mary her new apartment. They find “that dumb, awful Rhoda” (according to Phyllis) out on the balcony, washing the window because she was under the impression that it was going to be her apartment. Mullen’s idea was to give Bess an extra line not originally in the script: “Aunt Rhoda’s really a lot of fun! Mom hates her ... ” The change worked; if a little girl thought Rhoda was cool, it was OK for the audience to like her, too. The laughs came in all the right places during Friday’s taping.

12. The men in the cast weren’t sorry to see Valerie Harper leave the series.

The Rhoda character eventually became popular enough to be spun off into her own series, and the “boys” on the show were happy to see her go. Nothing against Valerie Harper—by all accounts she was very sweet and easy to work with. It was just that when Rhoda was still on the show, many episodes focused on “the girls” and the action took place at Mary’s apartment and away from the newsroom, leaving the men with a lot less screen time.

13. The “designer” of Mary’s infamous green dress met a tragic end in real life.


Barbara Colby first appeared as a hooker named Sherry in the “Will Mary Richards Go To Jail?” episode and made such an impression that she was brought back a second time. In “You Try to Be a Nice Guy,” Sherry enlists Mary’s aid to find a job in order to maintain her parole. She ultimately tries her hand at fashion design and presents Mary with a green dress that exposes a lot of flesh (which elicits a priceless reaction from Ted Baxter). Colby was given a co-starring role in the Cloris Leachman spin-off series Phyllis in 1975. She had filmed just three episodes when she and a male friend were accosted and shot by two men in a Venice, California, parking lot the night of July 24, 1975. Colby died at the scene; her companion lived long enough to describe their mysterious attackers (who hadn’t robbed them) before dying of his wounds. The culprits were never caught and the case remains unsolved.

14. Mary really did have to struggle to keep a straight face during the “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode.

Often listed as one of the best sitcom episodes, this entry touched on a dark subject: the death of WJM children’s show host Chuckles the Clown. (He’d been dressed as Peter Peanut to serve as Grand Marshall of a circus parade and a rogue elephant tried to shell him.) Mary was supposed to remain grim and mournful while the rest of the newsroom made jokes about his unusual demise, but during every rehearsal she continually cracked up whenever Mr. Fee-Fi-Fo (one of Chuckles’ many characters) was mentioned. She recalled in her autobiography that the insides of her cheeks were almost raw from biting them so hard to keep from laughing during the actual taping of the episode.

15. It was the first U.S. network series to break character and feature a curtain call.

After seven seasons Grant Tinker and Mary Tyler Moore decided to end their show while it was still performing strongly in the ratings rather than continuing on, risking a drop in quality and ultimately getting cancelled. It was one of the rare series finales that allowed the characters to bid farewell to one another in the context of the show, and it also featured another first: Moore introduced each of her castmates to the audience for a final curtain call before the end credits rolled.

Additional Sources:
After All, by Mary Tyler Moore
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And all the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic, by by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
Archive of American Television interviews with Edward Asner, Gavin MacLeod, and Mary Tyler Moore

This post originally appeared in 2015.

Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
15 Actors Who Could've Played Han Solo
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Before Harrison Ford (watch his audition tape here) and Alden Ehrenreich were cast as Han Solo in the Star Wars film franchise, a number of young and famous Hollywood actors had a shot at playing everyone’s favorite “stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerfherder.” Here are 15 of them.


After the massive success of the first two The Godfather films, Serpico, and Dog Day Afternoon, Al Pacino was the toast of Hollywood. He was given the script to Star Wars and was offered the Solo job, but turned it down to star in Sydney Pollack’s Bobby Deerfield instead.

“It was at that time in my career when I was offered everything,” Pacino told MTV in 2014. “I was in The Godfather. They didn’t care if I was right or wrong for the role, if I could act or not act. ‘He’s in The Godfather. Offer him everything!’ So they offered me this movie. And I remember not understanding it when I read it. Another missed opportunity!”


 Actor Miles Teller attends the 2018 DIRECTV NOW Super Saturday Night Concert at NOMADIC LIVE! at The Armory on February 3, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Christopher Polk, Getty Images for DirecTV

Fresh off the success of Divergent and Whiplash in 2014, Miles Teller’s name appeared on the shortlist of young actors being considered to play the title role in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Believe it or not, he had never watched a single movie set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” before his audition with Lucasfilm.

“I had never even seen any of the original Star Wars movies until maybe a month or a couple weeks before my first audition because I was like, ‘I should check this out,'" Teller told MTV’s Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. “I just love Harrison Ford, I think that’s a great character. I love his brand, I mean so many guys would’ve played that part so wrong and he has humor at the right times.”


Before he wrote and starred in Rocky, Sylvester Stallone met with George Lucas and auditioned for the part of Han Solo. He knew he wasn’t going to get the job based on the director’s ambivalent demeanor during his reading.

When asked about the audition in 2010, Stallone told Ain’t It Cool News in 2010, “It didn’t meet with much approval since when I stood in front of George Lucas he didn’t look at me once, obviously being very shy. Then I said ‘Well obviously I’m not the right type.’ but it all worked out for the best since I don’t look good in spandex holding a Ray gun.”


 Ansel Elgort attends New York City Ballet 2018 Spring Gala at Lincoln Center on May 3, 2018 in New York City
Steven Ferdman, Getty Images

The Fault in Our Stars and Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort was one of the names on Lucasfilm’s shortlist of young actors for Solo. While he has the good looks to play the rugged space pirate, Elgort was relieved that Alden Ehrenreich was selected instead. 

“Yeah, I was pretty worried, honestly,” Elgort told The Huffington Post. “I was pretty worried that if I got it, I’d have to change my DJ name. So I’m relieved.” (Elgort is also a musician and singer with the DJ name of “Ansølo.” He publishes electronic dance music and remixes on Soundcloud under the pseudonym.)


Before his breakout appearances in Annie Hall and The Deer Hunter, a struggling young actor named Christopher Walken auditioned for Han Solo in Star Wars. Although the role went to Ford in the end, Walken was reportedly Lucas’s second choice for the space smuggler.


After starring in hit comedies like Neighbors, Dave Franco auditioned for Lucasfilm. During pre-production in 2016, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller—who both also directed Franco in 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie—were set to direct Solo: A Star Wars Story. The pair left the project well into filming due to “creative differences.” Despite a strong audition, Franco ultimately didn’t get the role.

“I’m not good with impressions or anything like that,” Franco told MTV. “I think that’s the reason why it’s so hard to cast this role. Do they want someone to perfectly embody who Harrison Ford is, or do they want to go a completely different route? Do they want someone to look really similar to him? I don’t know, I think they’re struggling with that.”


During the mid-1970s, Kurt Russell auditioned for both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, but Lucas wasn’t sure he was right for either job. While the director was still making up his mind, Russell dropped out of the running altogether to be a series regular on a TV Western called The Quest instead.

“[I was] interviewing for the part of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo," Russell told USA Today. "On tape, it exists. I didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. Something about a Death Star and a Millennium Falcon. I was actually pretty [close], in the final running, but I needed to give an answer to ABC to do a western show. I asked George, ‘Do you think you’re gonna use me?’ He said, ‘I don’t know if I want to put you with him, or those two guys together.’ I got to go to work, so I did the western. Clearly, made the right choice.”

When later asked about his decision to work on The Quest, which lasted just one season, Russell told Vanity Fair: “I don’t have any regrets. As an actor you can’t dwell on those things or you’ll go crazy. Things happen for a reason and I’m happy how things turned out in my career. My life and career may have been different, maybe for better or for worse, if I did Star Wars, but you can’t focus on it. You move on.”


 Scott Eastwood attends the 6th Annual Hilarity For Charity at The Hollywood Palladium on March 24, 2018 in Los Angeles, California
Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

In 2016, Lucasfilm auditioned more than 2500 actors roughly between the ages of 20 and 25 for Solo. The production company wanted an actor who was young enough to grow with the character through multiple movies. The list was whittled down to just eight names after screen tests, with actor Scott Eastwood—son of Clint—among those in the running. Although he was a favorite with Star Wars fans, Eastwood was 29 years old at the time and the oldest actor on the shortlist.


Before he was known as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Robert Englund auditioned for Han Solo. While he didn’t land the gig, Englund took the script home with him, because he thought his roommate would be perfect for the role of Luke Skywalker—and he was right! Englund’s roommate at the time was Mark Hamill, who played the iconic role for more than 40 years, most recently in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

“At that time, Mark Hamill was always on my couch,” Englund told “So there he was, halfway through a six-pack, watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I went in and I said to him, ‘Look at these sides, I think you’re right for this, man. This character is like a space prince, and it’s George Lucas!' ... I was just saying, ‘Wow, what if you got to be in a George Lucas movie, Mark? You’re the kind of actor he loves!’ So he got on the phone to his agent and the rest is history.”


After gaining critical and commercial success in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Fury, Logan Lerman was reportedly on Lucasfilm’s shortlist of young actors to play Solo. While he didn’t end up landing the gig, Lerman said of the role to MTV, “I don’t think I’d be intimidated. It would just be fun.”


 Jack Reynor arriving at the 'Detroit' European Premiere at The Curzon Mayfair on August 16, 2017 in London, England
Tristan Fewings, Getty Images

While audiences might know him as the lead character in the Irish drama What Richard Did or as the love interest in Transformers: Age of Extinction, Irish actor Jack Reynor was on the shortlist for Solo, and was ultimately happy he didn’t get the gig.

“That Han Solo movie is going to be really tough,” Reynor told The Irish Times. “I think the guy who is doing it is a really good actor, but, for myself, I was afraid of it. I kept thinking: if you f**k this up you’ll ruin people’s childhoods. If it doesn’t turn out great, you won’t be forgiven. That’s a lot of responsibility. And even if it goes great, you’ll do it, people will know you only from that and that defines your career. That would be very difficult. For me, working on original material is very important.”


While still on Saturday Night Live, it was rumored that Bill Murray was up for Han Solo in A New Hope. In 2015, while at San Diego Comic-Con, Murray addressed the nearly 40-year old rumors: “I don’t know if I was up for it. I can’t tell you for sure. But I am working out in hopes of getting this new thing,” he joked. “I’m doing a lot of swimming and pilates."


 Taron Egerton attends the EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) nominees party at Kensington Palace on February 17, 2018 in London, England
Jeff Spicer, Getty Images

Welsh actor Taron Egerton, who starred in Kingsman: The Secret Service and its sequel, was reportedly one of the three names (alongside Reynor and Ehrenreich) on the final shortlist for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Like Reynor, Egerton admitted he was very apprehensive of the role.

“Roles of that level are always going to be life-changing,” Egerton told The Guardian in 2016. “I wouldn’t run into it blind. It would definitely be a shutting-a-door-behind-me moment. That is something that I’d be wary of.”


Coming off his breakout success in Cooley High in 1975, actor Glynn Turman auditioned for Lucas—but he didn’t even realize he had auditioned for the part of Han Solo until he read about it in Dale Pollock’s book, Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, in 1983.

“In those days it said ‘black actor,’ ‘white actor,’ ‘Hispanic actor’ for every role, but it didn’t say either for the Han Solo part,” Glynn Turman told Empire Magazine in 2017. “It didn’t specify ‘black actor.’ I was rather pleased because I was just being called in as a talent. I remember George was very professional.” Turman must have impressed Lucas, as he was apparently considered for the role of Lando Calrissian as well.

“Later, I was approached for the role, in that same franchise, that [was given to] Billy Dee Williams,” Turman told Yahoo! Entertainment. “Handsome, swashbuckling, dashing Billy Dee. I hate him! Not true. Dear friend and a talented man. Lando Calrissian! That wouldn’t have fit me anyway. But it fits a Billy Dee Williams.”


 Actor Emory Cohen attends the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival after party for Vincent N Roxxy at Black Market on April 19, 2016 in New York City
Cindy Ord, Getty Images for 2016 Tribeca Film Festival

In 2016, New York City-born actor Emory Cohen, a.k.a. “the cute guy from Brooklyn in Brooklyn,” was among the contenders to play Han Solo. "I read for it once," he later told The Daily Beast, and joked that, “They don’t even want me!”

Robert Viglasky, Netflix
11 Things We Know About The Crown Season 3
Robert Viglasky, Netflix
Robert Viglasky, Netflix

Now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding is in the books, it's time to start thinking about the next big royal event: season three of The Crown. Since making its premiere on November 4, 2016, the Netflix series—which won the 2017 Golden Globe for Best Drama—has become an indisputable hit. The streaming series, created by two-time Oscar nominee Peter Morgan, follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the ups and downs of the royal family.

Now that you’ve surely binge-watched both of the first two seasons, we’re looking ahead to season three. Here’s everything we know about The Crown’s third season so far.


 Olivia Colman attends the 'Murder On The Orient Express' world premiere at Royal Albert Hall on November 2, 2017 in London, England
John Phillips, Getty Images

From the very beginning, creator Peter Morgan made it clear that each season of The Crown would cover roughly a decade of history, and that the cast would change for season three and again in season five (to more accurately represent the characters 20 and 40 years later). In October, it was announced that Olivia Colman would take over the role of Queen Elizabeth II.

When discussing her replacement with Jimmy Fallon, Claire Foy praised her successor, joking that "You'll forget all about me and the rest of the cast. You'll be like, ‘Who are they?' We're the warm-up act."

Though she might be best known to American audiences for her roles in Broadchurch and The Night Manager (the latter of which earned her a Golden Globe in 2017), Colman is no stranger to playing a member of the royal family. In 2012, she played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon—wife of King George VI and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret—in Hyde Park on Hudson. Later this year, she’ll play Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, with Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.


While no official release date for season three has been given, the BBC reported that we wouldn't see Colman as Queen Elizabeth II until 2019—which means we've got some more waiting to do. The good news, however, is that Morgan confirmed they're shooting seasons three and four "back-to-back. I’m writing them all at the moment," he said in February. Meaning we may not have to wait as long for season four to arrive.


 Actor Tobias Menzies attends 'The Terror' premiere at the Philips Gran Via Theater on March 20, 2018 in Madrid, Spain
Carlos Alvarez, Getty Images

Between Outlander and The Terror, Tobias Menzies is keeping pretty busy these days. In late March it was announced that he’d be taking over Matt Smith’s role as Prince Philip for the next two seasons of The Crown—and Smith couldn't be happier.

Shortly after the announcement was made, Smith described his replacement as "the perfect casting," telling the Observer: "He’s a wonderful actor. I worked with him on The History Boys, and he’s a totally fantastic actor. I’m very excited to see what he does with Prince Philip." Of course, passing an iconic role on to another actor is something that former Doctor Who star Smith has some experience with. "It was hard to give up the Doctor—you want to play it for ever. But with this, you know you can’t," Smith told The Times last October.

For his part, Menzies said that, "I'm thrilled to be joining the new cast of The Crown and to be working with Olivia Colman again. I look forward to becoming her 'liege man of life and limb.'"


If you remember hearing rumblings that Paul Bettany would be playing the Duke of Edinburgh, no, you're not imagining things. For a while it seemed like the London-born actor was a shoo-in for the part, but it turned out that scheduling was not in Bettany's favor. When asked about the rumors that he was close to signing a deal to play Philip, Bettany said that, "We discussed it. We just couldn’t come to terms on dates really. [That] is all that happened."


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After months of speculation—and one big hint via Instagram (see above)—in early May, Netflix finally confirmed the previously "all but confirmed" rumor that Helena Bonham Carter would play Princess Margaret in The Crown's next season. "I’m not sure which I’m more terrified about—doing justice to the real Princess Margaret or following in the shoes of Vanessa Kirby’s Princess Margaret,” Bonham Carter said of the role. “The only thing I can guarantee is that I’ll be shorter [than Vanessa]."

Like Colman, Bonham Carter also has some experience playing a royal: She played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a.k.a. the Queen Mother, in the Oscar-winning The King's Speech.


At the same time Netflix confirmed Bonham Carter's casting, the network announced that BAFTA-winning actor Jason Watkins had been cast as Harold Wilson, who was prime minister between 1964 and 1970 and again between 1974 and 1976. "I am delighted to become part of this exceptional show,” Watkins said. “And so thrilled to be working once again with Peter Morgan. Harold Wilson is a significant and fascinating character in our history. So looking forward to bringing him to life, through a decade that transformed us culturally and politically."


As The Crown moves forward, time will, too. Though fans worried that, based on the current time jumps between seasons, it would take another few years to see Princess Diana be introduced, Morgan told People Magazine that Princess Diana would make her first appearance toward the end of season three and that she will be heavily featured in the two seasons that follow. However, casting director Nina Gold later dispelled that notion.

"Diana’s not in this season," Gold told Vanity Fair. "When we do get to her, that is going to be pretty interesting." Charles and Diana did not meet until 1977, when the Prince began dating Diana's older sister, Sarah. According to Variety, season three will only cover the years 1964 to 1976.


Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles is competing, 1980
Express Newspapers/Archive Photos/Getty Images

As it’s difficult to fully cover the relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana without including Camilla Parker Bowles as part of the story, the current Duchess of Cornwall will make her first appearance in season three.

“Peter [Morgan]’s already talking about the most wonderful things,” The Crown producer Suzanne Mackie revealed during the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival in April 2017. “You start meeting Camilla Parker Bowles in season three,” she said, noting that they were then in the process of mapping out seasons three and four.


Though it's hard to imagine a more lavish set design, Left Bank—the series's production company—requested more studio space for its sets at Elstree Studios in late 2017, and received approval to do just that in April. According to Variety, Left Bank specifically "sought planning permission for a new Buckingham Palace main gates and exterior, including the iconic balcony on which the royals stand at key moments. The Downing Street plans show a new Number 10 and the road leading up to the building itself. The sketches for the new work, seen by Variety, show an aerial view of Downing Street with a Rolls Royce pulling up outside Number 10."


Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret in 'The Crown'
Alex Bailey/Netflix

Princess Margaret’s roller-coaster relationship with Antony Armstrong-Jones played a major part of The Crown’s second season, and the dissolution of their marriage will play out in season three.

“We’re now writing season three," Robert Lacey, the series’s history consultant and the author of The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1, told Town & Country in December. “And in season three, without giving anything away—it’s on the record, it’s history—we’ll see the breakup of this extraordinary marriage between Margaret and Snowdon. This season, you see how it starts, and what a strange character, a brilliant character Snowdon was.”


While Kirby, who has played Princess Margaret in the first two seasons, knows that the cast will undergo a shakeup, she’s not afraid to admit that she’s jealous of all the juicy drama Bonham Carter will get to experience as the character.

“I was so desperate to do further on,” Kirby told Vanity Fair, “because it’s going to be so fun [to enact] when their marriage starts to break down. You see the beginnings of that in episode 10. I kept saying to [Peter Morgan], ‘Can’t you put in an episode where Margaret and Tony have a big row, and she throws a plate at his head?’ I’m so envious of the actress who gets to do it.”

Kirby even went so far as to suggest that Margaret’s life could be turned into its own series, telling Morgan, “‘We need to do a spinoff.’ You actually could do 10 hours on Margaret because she’s so fascinating. There’s so much to her, and she’s such an interesting character. I know that parts like this hardly ever come along."


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