Helena Bonham Carter is taken over the role of Queen Elizabeth's sister for the third season of the Netflix hit from Vanessa Kirby

By Stephanie Petit
October 07, 2019 01:38 PM

Princess Margaret may have died in 2002, but that didn’t stop Helena Bonham Carter from seeking the royal’s approval to portray her in The Crown.

The actress, who is taking over the role of Queen Elizabeth‘s sister for the third season of the Netflix hit from Vanessa Kirby, said she contacted Margaret through a psychic medium to get her blessing for the role.

“She said, apparently, she was glad it was me,” Bonham Carter said at the Cheltenham literature festival, according to The Guardian. “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 okay 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,” the star continued. “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.”

Princess Margaret; Helena Bonham Carter
Hulton Archive/Getty; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret
Netflix

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However, Princess Margaret did have some advice for playing her.

“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.’ “

Helena Bonham Carter, Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies in The Crown
Julian Broad for EW

Bonham Carter, 53, also turned to those who knew Princess Margaret in order to accurately portray her onscreen.

“Three ladies-in-waiting, a couple of relatives, a very close relative and some really close friends,” the actress said. “They loved the woman and were very happy to talk about her because they miss her.”

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones
Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty

Speaking to EW during a photo shoot for the magazine’s September cover, Bonham Carter revealed that her uncle was “actually very close” to the Queen’s younger (and often eccentric) sister.

She was pretty scary,” Bonham Carter recalled. “At one point, she met me at Windsor Castle and she said, ‘You are getting better, aren’t you?’ ” (She “presumes” Princess Margaret’s comment referred to her acting.)

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The third season, which spans 1964 to 1977, also stars Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles, Erin Doherty as Princess Anne, Marion Bailey as the Queen Mother and Jason Watkins as Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

Netflix announced Monday that season 3 of the royal drama will premiere Sunday, Nov. 17.

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