Helena Bonham Carter talks ‘anxiety’ ahead of The Crown shoot

British actress Helena Bonham Carter has revealed she was “scared” and faced “anxiety” when she signed on to play Princess Margaret in hit Netflix show The Crown, produced by Left Bank Pictures.

“I was really scared at first; I wasn’t immediately going to do it,” said Bonham Carter. “Because when you play somebody who everyone thinks they know, you’ve got that hanging on your shoulder. Then you’ve got another person who just won a BAFTA in a great performance, on the other shoulder, so it was pretty scary.”

Bonham Carter stepped into the shoes of Vanessa Kirby, who won the supporting actress BAFTA for playing a young Princess Margaret in The Crown. Bonham Carter herself is nominated in the same category for the same role at this year’s BAFTAs, alongside Helen Behan for The Virtues, Jasmine Jobson for Top Boy and Naomie Ackie for The End of the F–ing World. She was speaking at a virtual pre-ceremony Q&A event featuring her fellow nominees.

Before deciding, Bonham Carter read one of the scripts featuring Margaret’s character. “It starts with the writing for me — the words. I read one of the Margaret episode scripts, and said, ‘I know how to play this,’ the writer is telling me.”

After accepting the role, part of Bonham Carter’s research was to meet people who knew the late royal. “It helps me in my terror — my research is to do with anxiety,” said Bonham Carter. “It’s like, how can I keep the anxiety at bay until you have day one. Once day one starts, your brain stops worrying, if you work with the right people.”

READ MORE: The Crown will get a sixth season after all, taking the show into the early 2000s

The friends of the Princess who spoke to Bonham Carter gave her real insight into the character, she said. “The gift for me in this part is that it is a part that keeps on giving. It is so complicated and complex. We all want complexity, that’s what we look for in a role, and she’s got so many facets — all contradictory, really. She’s never boring,” said Bonham Carter.

The actress likened the part being played by multiple actresses to running a race and handing it over to Lesley Manville to passing the baton. She revealed that Kirby passed on several tips to her while passing over the role, thus preventing her from getting overwhelmed by the research available to her.

“It was a dream job, and now it’s over,” said Bonham Carter.

Margaret Rose Windsor, the only sibling of Queen Elizabeth II, led a tempestuous life, with her 1978 divorce making international headlines. She died in 2002.

Meanwhile, The Crown creator Peter Morgan made waves earlier this month when it was revealed that the writer has back-pedalled on plans to end the show with season five, and will instead pen a sixth season that takes the series into the early 2000s.

The BAFTA TV awards will be revealed Friday in a closed studio, socially-distanced ceremony where nominees will accept their awards virtually.