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8 Things We Know About The Crown Season 2

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Netflix

Since making its premiere on November 4, 2016, The Crown—which won the 2017 Golden Globe for Best Drama—has become an indisputable hit for Netflix. The 10-part series, created by two-time Oscar nominee Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), follows the ascension and early reign of Queen Elizabeth II (played by Claire Foy, who won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for her portrayal of the legendary royal) and the challenges it creates in her personal life, particularly in her marriage to Prince Philip (played by former Doctor Who star Matt Smith). Fans binge-watched the show as quickly as it was dropped, and have spent the better part of this year clamoring for details on the second season, which will return on December 8, 2017. Here’s what we know.

1. PRODUCTION ON SEASON TWO BEGAN BEFORE SEASON ONE EVEN PREMIERED.

In November 2016, while speaking on a panel for the nonprofit organization Visionary Women, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos confirmed that production on The Crown's second season was already underway. "We're in production now on the second season," Sarandos said. "This is going to take Queen Elizabeth from age 29 to, presumably, the current day. We'll see it lay out over decades. We've seen a lot of things about Queen Elizabeth, but we've already learned more about her than we ever had by watching the first 10 hours."

In an interview with Vanity Fair, published on November 18, 2016, Foy revealed that they were already a month into shooting. “We literally pick up where we left off—in 1956," she said. “I think Peter’s taking [us up to] '63 or '64. We get into the '60s, and it is a whole other world happening. It’s really exciting, especially because we’ve had such a positive response and everyone’s been really encouraging. It just makes everybody, especially the crew, work even harder. When we first started shooting, and it hadn’t come out. We were like, ‘Oh god, what if they hate it?’ And then we’ll [still have to film a second season] knowing that everyone hated it."

2. SEASON TWO WILL FOCUS ON THE SUEZ CRISIS.

Season two will focus largely on the Suez Crisis of 1956. “Initially, I thought this would only be three seasons,” Morgan told The Hollywood Reporter. “It would be one season of her as the Young Queen, one season of her as the Middle-Aged Queen, one season of her as an Old Queen. It's only in the writing of it that I said, ‘Oh, my God I need more time.’ The truth of the matter is, I could've written three or even four seasons of her as the Young Queen. I did get to the point where I thought, ‘Actually no, let's leave it on the knife's edge of Suez because Suez feels like a changing point for the country. Britain was never the same again after Suez.’ Therefore, I was going to deal with that at the beginning of season two. Which we do.”

3. PRINCES PHILIP AND CHARLES WILL HAVE BIGGER ROLES.

Though Elizabeth's family was a major part of The Crown's first season, season two will devote more screen time to both Prince Philip and a young Prince Charles.

"We start to focus on Charles as a young boy and his education, and on Philip and his back story,” Morgan told People in December. Earlier this month, while discussing the show at a Royal Television Society event in London, Morgan gave a few more details on season two: "Its soul is about Prince Philip's complexity. "I find him extraordinarily interesting—his childhood, again, you couldn't make it up. The soul of season two is about his complexity."

4. PRINCESS MARGARET IS GOING TO BE "NAUGHTY."

Though audiences got to see a bit about Princess Margaret's lust for life, and complicated romantic entanglements, in the first season, we'll get an even wilder version of her in season two. "She’s naughty," Foy told W Magazine. "Very minxy. She gets even naughtier even though she gets married. The naughtiness just continues." (Margaret's husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones—a.k.a. Lord Snowdon—will be played by Downton Abbey star Matthew Goode.)

In discussing Vanessa Kirby, the actress who plays Margaret, Morgan told Vanity Fair that, “Vanessa explodes this season. We always knew she was a great actress, but she explodes. It’s a very identifiable tragedy, to have someone in the family with more apparent charisma and yet no use for it ... I love writing her.”

5. NETFLIX WOULD LIKE TO SEE A TOTAL OF SIX SEASONS.

Though it’s the most expensive television series ever made, Sarandos seems rather pleased with the results of The Crown—and the audience's reaction to it. Even if season two does bring viewers up to the present day, the series won’t stop there. In fact, from the get-go, Netflix saw the series as a long-term investment. "The idea is to do this over six decades, in six seasons presumably, and make the whole show over eight to 10 years," Sarandos said.

6. FUTURE SEASONS COULD SEE SOME MAJOR CAST CHANGES.

Though Foy and Smith are both back for season two of The Crown, it will reportedly be their last. Because of the chronological nature of the narrative, seasons three and beyond would focus on the Queen in the later years of her reign, which would require an older actress. According to Digital Spy, if all six seasons of the series shake out as planned, the cast will change for season three then again in season five, for the final two seasons. Producer Andrew Eaton said that he and the rest of the team have had some “conversations” about who might play the royal couple next, but right now they are firmly focused on Foy.

"We saw a number of actresses in the beginning [to play the young Elizabeth] who were all brilliant, but Claire ... there was something about her," Eaton said.

"If you're going to take this character—and she's doing all of the first two seasons, so it's 20 hours with the same character—it's got to be someone that you can identify with and feels vulnerable and sympathetic and she has that quality as a person.”

7. JOHN AND JACKIE KENNEDY WILL PLAY A PART IN SEASON TWO.

As season two ventures into the 1960s, we do know that John and Jackie Kennedy will be a part of the narrative. On February 9, 2017, Variety confirmed that Michael C. Hall will play JFK, while Quarry's Jodi Balfour will play his wife, Jackie. 

"I absolutely fell in love with Jodi Balfour," Foy told Entertainment Weekly in July. "She’s just brilliant, and Michael C. Hall is just incredible. You really see how amazing it is to put Philip and Elizabeth—their marriage and their world—suddenly into the 1960s. You see how the royal family has to start changing and move with the times and realize that things and people are different, and you start to see the evolution of the modern monarchy."

8. A THIRD SEASON HAS YET TO BE CONFIRMED, BUT MORGAN'S ALREADY THINKING ABOUT IT.

If audience response to the first season told us anything, season two of The Crown is bound to be a hit. Still, Netflix has yet to confirm that a third season will be coming. "We're talking [to Netflix] all the the time but we just want to see how the second series goes," Morgan said in early August. "We're pretty swamped at the moment. I've started thinking about a third season—you have to be responsible, you can't say you'll do it and then suddenly go, 'Actually I found out it's really dull.' I have done some preparatory work, I'd be happy to do it, but at the moment I'm swamped."

The Crown is streaming now on Netflix.

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Jim Henson's Labyrinth Is Being Adapted Into a Stage Musical
Henson Company
Henson Company

More than 30 years after its cinematic debut, Labyrinth could be hitting the stage. In an interview with Forbes, Jim Henson's son and Henson Company CEO Brian Henson shared plans to transform the cult classic into a live musical.

While the new musical would be missing David Bowie in his starring role as Jareth the Goblin King, it would hopefully feature the soundtrack Bowie helped write. Brian Henson says there isn't a set timeline for the project yet, but the stage adaptation of the original film is already in the works.

As for a location, Henson told Forbes he envisions it running, "Not necessarily [on] Broadway, it could be for London's West End, but it will be a stage show, a big theatrical version. It’s very exciting."

Labyrinth premiered in 1986 to measly box office earnings and tepid reviews, but Jim Henson's fairytale has since grown into a phenomenon beloved by nostalgic '80s kids and younger generations alike. In the same Forbes interview, Brian Henson also confirmed the 2017 news that a long-anticipated Labyrinth sequel is apparently in development. Though he couldn't give any specifics, Henson confirmed that, "we are still excited about it but the process moves very slowly and very carefully. We're still excited about the idea of a sequel, we are working on something, but nothing that's close enough to say it's about to be in pre-production or anything like that."

While fans eagerly await those projects to come out, they can get their fix when the film returns to theaters across the U.S. on April 29, May 1, and May 2. Don't forget to wear your best Labyrinth swag to the event.

[h/t Forbes]

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10 Wild Facts About Westworld
John P. Johnson, HBO
John P. Johnson, HBO

The hit HBO show about an android farm girl finding sentience in a fake version of the old West set in a sci-fi future is back for a second season. So grab your magnifying glass, study up on Lewis Carroll and Shakespeare, and get ready for your brain to turn to scrambled eggs. 

The first season saw Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and her robotic compatriots strive to escape bondage as the puppet playthings of a bored society that kills and brutalizes them every day, then repairs them each night to repeat the process for paying customers. The Maze. The Man in Black. The mysteries lurking in cold storage and cantinas. Wood described the first season as a prequel, which means the show can really get on the dusty trail now. 

Before you board the train and head back into the park, here are 10 wild facts about the cerebral, sci-fi hit. (Just beware of season one spoilers!)

1. IT’S NOT THE FIRST TV ADAPTATION OF THE MOVIE.

Though Westworld, the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton, was a hit, its 1976 sequel Futureworld was a flop. Still, the name and concept had enough cachet for CBS to move forward with a television concept in 1980. Beyond Westworld featured Delos head of security John Moore (Jim McMullan) battling against the villainous mad scientist Simon Quaid (James Wainwright), who wants to use the park’s robots to, what else, take over the whole world. It would be a little like if the HBO show focused largely on Luke Hemsworth’s Ashley Stubbs, which just might be the spinoff the world is waiting for.

2. THE ORIGINAL GUNSLINGER HAS A CAMEO.

Ed Harris and Eddie Rouse in 'Westworld'
JOHN P. JOHNSON, HBO

The HBO series pays homage to the original film in a variety of ways, including echoing elements from the score to create that dread-inducing soundscape. It also tipped its ten-gallon hat to Yul Brynner’s relentless gunslinger from the original film by including him in the storage basement with the rest of the creaky old models.

3. QUENTIN TARANTINO, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, AND MANY OTHERS COULD HAVE REBOOTED IT.

Speaking of Brynner’s steely, murderous resolve: His performance as the robo-cowboy was one of the foundations for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s turn as the Terminator. Nearly 20 years later, in 2002, Schwarzenegger signed on to produce and star in a reboot of the sci-fi film from which he took his early acting cues. Schwarzenegger never took over the role from Brynner because he served as Governor of California instead, and the reboot languished in development hell.

Warner Bros. tried to get Quentin Tarantino on board, but he passed. They also signed The Cell director Tarsem Singh (whose old West would have been unbelievably lush and colorful, no doubt), but it fell through. A few years later, J.J. Abrams—who had met with Crichton about a reboot back in 1996—pitched eventual co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy on doing it as a television series. HBO bought it, and the violent delights finally made it to our screens.

4. IT COSTS $40,000 A DAY TO VISIT THE PARK. (AND THAT’S THE CHEAP PACKAGE.)

Thandie Newton and Angela Sarafyan in 'Westworld'
HBO

In season one, Logan (Ben Barnes) revealed that he’s spending $40,000 a day to experience Westworld. That’s in line with the 1973 movie, where park visitors spent $1000 a day, which lands near $38,000 once adjusted for inflation. Then again, we’re talking about 2052 dollars, so it might still be pricey, but not exorbitant in 2018 terms. But a clever Redditor spotted that $40,000 is the minimum you’d pay; according to the show’s website, the Gold Package will set you back $200,000 a day.

5. BEN BARNES BROKE HIS FOOT AND DIDN’T TELL ANYONE.

Once Upon a Time’s Eion Bailey was originally cast as Logan but had to quit due to a scheduling conflict, so Ben Barnes stepped in … then he broke his foot. The actor hid the injury for fear he’d lose the job, which is why he added a limp as a character detail. “I’m sort of hobbling along with this kind of cowboy-ish limp, which I then tried to maintain for the next year just so I could pretend it was a character choice,” Barnes said. “But really I had a very purple foot … So walking was the hardest part of shooting this for me.”

6. THE CO-CREATORS RICKROLLED FANS OBSESSED WITH UNCOVERING SPOILERS.

Eagle-eyed fans (particularly on Reddit) uncovered just about every major spoiler from the first season early on, which is why Nolan and Joy promised a spoiler video for anyone who wanted to know the entire plot of season two ahead of its premiere. They delivered, but instead of show secrets, the 25-minute video only offered a classy rendition of Rick Astley’s internet-infamous “Never Gonna Give You Up,” sung by Evan Rachel Wood with Angela Sarafyan on piano, followed by 20 minutes of a dog. It was a pitch-perfect response to a fanbase desperate for answers.

7. IT FEATURES AN ANCIENT GREEK EASTER EGG.

Amid the alternative rock tunes hammered out on the player piano and hat tips to classic western films, Westworld also referenced something from 5th century BCE Greece. Westworld, which is run by Delos Incorporated, is designed so that guests cannot die. Delos is also the name of the island where ancient Greeks made it illegal for anyone to die (or be born for that matter) on religious grounds. That’s not the only bit of wordplay with Greek either: Sweetwater’s main ruffian, Hector Escaton (Rodrigo Santoro), gets his last name from the Greek eschaton, meaning the final event in the divine design of the world. Fitting for a potentially sentient robot helping to bring about humanity’s destruction.

8. JIMMI SIMPSON FIGURED OUT HIS CHARACTER’S TWIST BECAUSE OF HIS EYEBROWS.

Evan Rachel Wood and Jimmi Simpson in 'Westworld'
HBO

In season one, the show’s many secrets were kept even from the main cast until the time they absolutely needed to know. Jimmi Simpson, who plays timid theme park neophyte William, had a hunch something was funny with his role because of a cosmetic change.

“I was with an amazing makeup artist, Christian, and he was looking at my face too much,” Simpson told Vanity Fair. “He had me in his chair, and he was just looking at my face, and then he said something about my eyebrows. ‘Would you be cool if we just took a couple hairs out of your eyebrows, made them not quite as arched?’” Guessing that they were making him look more like The Man in Black, Simpson said something to Joy, and she confirmed his hunch. “She looked kind of surprised I’d worked it out,” he said.

9. THE PLAYER PIANO MAY BE AN ALLUSION TO KURT VONNEGUT.

One of the show’s most iconic elements is its soundtrack of alternative rock songs from the likes of Radiohead, The Cure, and Soundgarden redone in a jaunty, old West style. In addition to adding a creepy sonic flavor to the sadistic vacation, they also may wink toward Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel, Player Piano, which deals with a dystopia of automation where machines do everything for humans, leading to an entrenched class struggle. The show’s resonant elements are clear, but Westworld also mentions that the world outside the theme park is one where there’s no unemployment and humans have little purpose. Like The Man In Black (Ed Harris), the protagonist of Player Piano also longs for real stakes in the struggle of life.

10. THERE ARE TWO JESSE JAMES CONNECTIONS.

Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright in 'Westworld'
HBO

Anthony Hopkins’s character Dr. Robert Ford is an invention for the new series, and he shares a name with the man who assassinated infamous outlaw Jesse James (a fact you may remember from the aptly named movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). The final episode of the first season flips the allusion when Ford is shot in the back of the head, which is exactly how the real-life Ford killed James.

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