When Helena Bonham Carter was cast as Princess Margaret in seasons three and four of The Crown, she did all the completely normal things an actor does to research a biographical role: read biographies, interviewed friends, and hired an astrologer, a graphologist, and a psychic medium in order to beg the deceased royal’s blessing of her performance.
At the recent Cheltenham Literature Festival (which sounds like an event where Agatha Raisin might solve a murder), Bonham Carter spoke about her chat with Princess Maragaret via spiritualist where the channeled psyche of a dead royal used her few minutes of earthly conversation to both give her blessing and talk some shit:
“‘She said, apparently, she was glad it was me. My main thing when you play someone who is real, you kind of want their blessing because you have a responsibility. So I asked her: ‘Are you OK with me playing you?’ and she said: ‘You’re better than the other actress’ … that they were thinking of. They will not admit who it was. It was me and somebody else.”
Then the spectre gave Bonham Carter some acting tips along with a few general opinions on her overall appearance:
“That made me think maybe she is here, because that is a classic Margaret thing to say. She was really good at complimenting you and putting you down at the same time. Then she said: ‘But you’re going to have to brush up and be more groomed and neater.’ Then she said: ‘Get the smoking right. I smoked in a very particular way. Remember that – this is a big note – the cigarette holder was as much a weapon for expression as it was for smoking.’”
That’s all very well, but now I need to know what Margaret Thatcher has told Gillian Anderson via Ouiji board.