Gillian Anderson Confirmed As Margaret Thatcher For 'The Crown' Season 4

(Photo Credit: Des Willie / Netflix)

The Crown confirms filming is underway for Season 4 and that Gillian Anderson is officially joining the cast.

The Crown Season 3 isn't due to arrive on Netflix until later this year, but the show is already plowing ahead with production on Season 4. After discovering how long the process of recasting the entire pantheon of royal household members was between Seasons 2 and 3 in 2018, the production has made adjustments for the upcoming second recast that is supposed to occur between Seasons 4 and 5. One of those significant changes is the series' filming schedule. Having cast the actors for Seasons 3 and 4, the show is merely filming everything it has to for the next two seasons back to back. This leaves plenty of time for the Second Great Recasting to come.

But with the confirmation that Season 4 filming is now underway also comes casting announcements for the major figures of the 1980s in the U.K. Each season has not only centered around a decade of the Queen's life and reign but also made one prime minister her central political foil. In Season 1 it was Winston Churchill (John Lithgow). In Season 2, it was Harold Macmillan (Anton Lesser). Season 3 has promised Harold Wilson, one of the last serious socialists to run the Labour Party in recent memory, who will be played by Jason Watkins.

And then there's the woman who followed him, and who will be the political heavyweight of The Crown Season 4 to Princess Diana's royal celebrity lightning rod. Margaret Thatcher did not immediately succeed Harold Wilson in the PM position. From 1976 to 1979, Number 10 Downing was occupied by James Callaghan, a different Labour leader who took over after Wilson stepped down. But February of 1979 saw a landslide election for the Tories, and the beginning of Thatcher's decade-long rule, the longest of any Prime Minister of the 20th century. And even better, she's going to be played by none other than Gillian Anderson.

Anderson's statement on being cast, in full.

I am so excited to be joining the cast and crew of The Crown and to have the opportunity to portray such a complicated and controversial woman. Thatcher was undoubtedly formidable but I am relishing exploring beneath the surface and, dare I say, falling in love with the icon who, whether loved or despised, defined an era.

Yes, you understand that correctly. Margaret Thatcher, a.k.a. The Iron Lady, one of the most controversial Prime Ministers of the last 50 years, and the first Tory leader to successfully begin to dismantle what she called "the nanny state," is going to be played by one of the hottest actresses possible. Please feel confused accordingly.

All joking aside, it will be fascinating to see how series creator Peter Morgan presents Thatcher. The show, as one cannot help but notice, has been functioning as a bit of a first draft of revisionist history. It is rewriting the Second Elizabethan era from a very pro-Queen standpoint. Everyone is treated as a foil to make Elizbeth's life choices look good, whether it be her husband, Philip, or American First Lady Jackie Kennedy. That same sympathy has already been extended to Charles as a schoolboy. The choice not to cast Diana until Season 4, thus giving Charles and Camilla a full season to build a love story ahead of his disastrous marriage, suggests that Season 3 will go very softly on the future King of England. One would assume Thatcher will continue this trend. Though whether or not that will paint her controversial rule as PM in a favorable light or not remains to be seen.

The Crown Season 3 premieres on Netflix with ten episodes on Friday, Nov. 17, 2019. Season 4 is expected to follow in 2020.