Josh O’Connor explains why Prince Charles won’t be a traditional king of England

Josh O'Connor as a uniformed Prince Charles in "The Crown."
Josh O’Connor is nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for his portrayal of Prince Charles in Season 4 of “The Crown.”
(Alex Bailey / Netflix)

Hello! I’m Yvonne Villarreal, and welcome to another edition of the companion newsletter to “The Envelope: The Podcast,” where my cohost, Mark Olsen, and I are bringing you highlights from each week’s episode throughout awards season.

I don’t know about you, but even though my Tuesday doomscrolling was less anxious than usual, it was still something of a gut punch. Maybe that’s because I was mostly reading tweets reminiscing about last year’s Oscar ceremony. Remember, the one in the Before Times. When it was a big deal that it rained on the red carpet? Or that Timothée Chalamet wore a formal tracksuit to the ceremony? Or that “Parasite” won best picture? (Well, in fairness, that history-making moment, which just may be the last best cultural occurrence of prepandemic life, actually was a huge deal.)

We’re less than three months away from this year’s ceremony, which will surely generate its own set of notable events to reflect on in tweets a year from now. As we inch closer to film’s big night in this unusual awards season, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed the shortlists of potential nominees in nine categories on Tuesday, including international feature, song, visual effects and documentary.


As my colleague Josh Rottenberg reported, of the 93 films that were entered in the international feature category, 15 made the shortlist, including “Better Days” (Hong Kong), “Collective” (Romania), “La Llorona” (Guatemala) and “Two of Us” (France). On the documentary side, of a record 238 films submitted in the documentary feature category, 15 will advance to the final round of voting, including “76 Days,” which chronicles the early days of the pandemic inside Wuhan hospitals; Netflix’s “Crip Camp,” which tells the story of a New York camp for people with disabilities; and “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” a timely look at Stacey Abrams’ work to combat voter suppression.

But if one thing has become clear in this out-of-sorts awards season, it’s how much TV has stepped up since the start of the pandemic. As my colleague Lorraine Ali noted of the Golden Globe nominations, in a year COVID-19 largely derailed the film machine, the small screen is home to some of awards season’s most-viewed standouts. One series that continues to be a favorite with awards voters: “The Crown.” The sweeping royal drama, which hails from Peter Morgan, received six Golden Globe nominations, and the series, along with “Schitt’s Creek,” led the TV nominations for the SAG Awards, with five nods apiece. I spoke with Emma Corrin, who wowed viewers with her portrayal of Princess Diana, about being a first-time Globe nominee and how the role informed her perspective on fame and celebrity. And my colleague Meredith Blake wrote about how “The Crown” was among the crop of Netflix shows that the Globes lavished with nominations, while shutting out the streamer’s buzzy “Bridgerton.”

Josh O'Connor and Emma Corrin portray Prince Charles and Princess Diana in "The Crown."
Josh O’Connor, left, as Prince Charles, with Emma Corrin as Princess Diana, in Season 4 of Netflix’s “The Crown.”
(Des Willie / Netflix)

Speaking of “The Crown,” our guest on this week’s podcast episode has left such an indelible mark with his portrayal of Prince Charles that he’s in the running for both a Golden Globe and a SAG Award in the coming weeks. I’m talking, of course, about Josh O’Connor.

O’Connor joined the series in Season 3 with a sympathetic portrait of a prince whose life is shackled by duty. The fourth season, which premiered last fall, introduced more dastardly shades of the future king, as the season followed his marriage to Princess Diana as well as his long-standing affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

“Generally, in my career, I’m constantly fascinated by masculinity and the fragility of masculinity,” O’Connor said. “The ultimate masculine power/status model is the idea of the monarch, the king. The king of England, in historical times, is a man of power and strength and stability and duty. And my initial thing with this character was I thought: I don’t think he is that. I think he’s softer around the edges; there’s a kind of an empathy about him. He wants love, he wants to give love and receive love, and I think that what was really interesting to me was playing those antitheses off of each other.

“Last season, my biggest philosophical battle was this idea that he was a man who was waiting for his mother to die for his life to take meaning, and that to me felt profound and challenging and interesting. I think this season, it was to do with marriage, how difficult marriage is. ... I was really keen that we found moments of real love between Diana and Charles. And so for me the tragedy of a failed marriage was the big crux this [season].”

O’Connor also talked about finding his funny bone as an actor for his feature film role in “Emma,” working opposite another TV standout of the year, “The Queen’s Gambit” star Anya Taylor-Joy. (Be sure to go back and listen to our interview with Taylor-Joy from earlier in the season.)


Thanks for reading/listening/subscribing. We have lots more to come, including conversations with Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari,” Kaley Cuoco about “The Flight Attendant” and Garrett Bradley for “Time.”

Listen to the podcast here and subscribe to “The Envelope: The Podcast” on Apple Podcasts or your podcast app of choice.

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