We Brits generally make a big fuss when one of our own nabs a big acting award. It’s a big deal. Think Colin Firth bagging the Oscar for The King’s Speech and quipping, “I think my career’s just peaked.”
To celebrate it is the right reaction. It happened again the other day when Claire Foy won the Emmy for lead actress in a drama series for playing HRH Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown. In amongst her comments on lifting the bauble was, “I dedicate this to the next cast, the next generation.” She was referring to the fresh ensemble that will play Her Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh and the others in the next series. Olivia Colman will step into Foy’s shoes.
No one who has watched and been enthralled by the goings-on within The Crown will begrudge Foy her award. She has been, quite simply, sensational. It’s been an amazing journey. Now it’s over.
One can’t help but wonder how Foy and her fellow cast members feel. Knowing that they would eventually hand over to others means that theirs is a limited collective performance.
And it’s arguably different to the theatre, when someone initiates a role and then hands over to a new face after a long run. Or, conversely, takes over from someone after a long run.
In that there is invariably a sense of relief from the actor leaving behind a role they’ve played for hundreds of performances, even if it has been stamped with their personality, physique and physiognomy.
In the case of Claire Foy, playing the Queen has established her (if she wasn’t already) as one of our brightest stars. (I was about to write Bright Young Things but she’s 34 and, frankly, not an ingénue.) That augurs well for the future.
Something else to consider: her genuine surprise and golly-gosh wide-eyed wonder when her name was announced as winner. None of the sprint up to the stage oozing “I-told-you-so” confidence as when Leonardo DiCaprio won the Oscar for The Revenant.
Those “in the know” might tell you that Foy was a cinch for the Emmy. But those “in the know” are frequently wrong – and who ever listens to a pundit anyway? Having been one I can say that the swingometer of successful predictions generally swings in the wrong direction…
But back to Ms Foy. The enforced leaving of a character she has made her own must be a wrench. Or maybe that’s a monumental assumption. Maybe she feels she’s taken the role as far as it can go. Maybe, having signed up to a character that was never going to be hers for the end game, she has reconciled herself to this particular finale.
In that case the Emmy is the perfect reward, salute, tip of the hat and thumbs-up. A big deal? Oh, yes. And unlike Alexander she has more worlds to conquer.