The Crown star Lesley Melville originally thought she was going to play The Queen in the hit drama series, saying she didn’t feel she was ‘young and glamorous’ enough to play the role.
Alongside Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth, the lineup for season five features Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip, Dominic West as Prince Charles, Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana, Olivia Williams as Camilla Parker Bowles, Claudia Harrison as Princess Anne and Johnny Lee Miller as Prime Minister John Major.
Manville, meanwhile, takes on the final iteration of Princess Margaret – a role that came as a bit of a surprise to her.
Speaking to The Times, she recalled: "I’m going to be absolutely honest about this. I always thought maybe I could be the final Queen. When my agent called and said, ‘Can you go to [creator] Peter Morgan’s house on Monday... '"
She continued: "I never thought of myself as a Margaret. My immediate thought was the Queen, the Queen! My agent said, ‘He wants to talk to you about playing Margaret'. I thought, ‘Hang on a minute. Margaret? I can’t do Margaret'.
“Because in my head I saw Margaret as young and glamorous, when Vanessa [Kirby, of series one and two] played her, and glamorous and still quite young, but a bit older, when Helena [Bonham Carter, of series three and four] played her.”
Manville said she doesn’t see herself ‘in that way’, adding: “As soon as she said it, something in me was really chuffed that they thought of me as Margaret. So then I thought, ‘God, Margaret, Margaret, Margaret! OK. All right. They think I could be Margaret. Let’s go and meet Peter Morgan and see'."
Morgan apparently even told her she looked ‘younger’ than he thought she would look, at which point the actor began to panic that she had ‘blown it’.
“But they said to me, there and then, ‘You know, it’s yours. Will you do it?’” she recalled.
“No messing about. I said yes, 'Of course'.”
Manville admitted the cast were ‘s**tting’ themselves on day one, aware of the ‘big responsibility’ that comes with the show – not least because her involvement was such a closely guarded secret after being one of the first actors cast for the hugely anticipated fifth series, along with Staunton.
“I couldn’t tell anyone for absolutely ages,” Manville continued.
“Told my agent, obviously. Told my son and my sister, but only because I knew they wouldn’t say… Well, I told them that they weren’t allowed to say anything.
“You’ve got to tell somebody. I haven’t got a husband or a boyfriend or anything. For months and months and months, I used to wake up and think, ‘F***! I’m going to play Princess Margaret!’”
The Crown season five lands on Netflix on Wednesday 9 November.