When “The Crown” returns to Netflix on Sunday, the royals will look a little different.
The entire cast of the worldwide hit series has been replaced for its third series, as the story moves into the 1960s and 1970s and follows Queen Elizabeth II and her fellow royals in the second decade of her reign.
Oscar-winning British actress Olivia Colman tops the bill, taking over from Claire Foy as the Queen. She’s joined by an array of notable faces and a handful of actors introducing themselves to an international audience for the first time.
Here’s a guide to who’s playing whom.
Queen Elizabeth II
British star Olivia Colman takes on arguably the biggest role of her blossoming career to date, stepping in as Queen Elizabeth II to helm the Netflix blockbuster series.
Colman told the Radio Times magazine that she had “fallen in love with the Queen” while filming, despite previously considering herself a conflicted monarchist. “She’d been told all her life, ‘Hold it in, don’t show you’re a woman.’ It’s an impossible situation. I couldn’t do it,” Colman added. “I hope she has a mountaintop or somewhere behind closed doors she can let it all out.”
The show marks a second royal role in two years for Colman, who won an Academy Award for Best Actress in February for her portrayal of Queen Anne in “The Favourite.”
That award capped an incredible rise for Colman, a firmly-established national treasure in the UK who has now taken her profile international. Colman started out in a number of comedy roles, including in irreverent cult hits “Peep Show” and “Green Wing,” and “Fleabag” viewers will recognize her as the bitter and sex-obsessed artist godmother of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s titular character.
Her transition into drama accelerated with a celebrated turn on British crime series “Broadchurch” and has seen her pick up an array of awards since. Colman has even played the Queen Mother in the 2012 film “Hyde Park on Hudson,” and co-starred in a BBC adaptation of “Les Misérables” late last year.
She takes over from Foy, whose flawless accent and measured portrayal of the Queen’s early years on the throne won her plaudits and helped “The Crown” become a huge hit for Netflix.
The Queen’s rocky relationship with her husband, Prince Philip, formed an important part of the first two series of the show. The Prince was played by Matt Smith, the British star mostly known for his turn as the Eleventh Doctor in the BBC series “Doctor Who.”
Now the role’s being taken on by Tobias Menzies, who has credits in the TV series “Outlander” and as Edmure Tully in “Game of Thrones.”
The British actor has also appeared in episodes of “Black Mirror” and “Doctor Who,” but he’s taking on his most prominent role in the new series.
He’ll step into the Prince’s shoes amidst tension between his character and the Queen.
Perhaps the series’ most colorful character, Princess Margaret, is being played by an obvious choice: Helena Bonham-Carter.
A major coup for the series, the British star adds “The Crown” to her extensive filmography – which includes roles in “Fight Club,” “Les Misérables” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
Bonham-Carter takes over from another member of British acting royalty, Vanessa Kirby.
The second series saw Kirby’s character begin a scandalous romance with photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, but the new batch of episodes will follow their relationship through more turbulent times.
The new series begins with the election of Labour politician Harold Wilson as Britain’s prime minister. Wilson served two separate terms as the country’s leader between 1964 and 1970, and then between 1974 and 1976, meaning he’ll bookend the time span of the show’s third season.
Wilson, known for his trademark pipes, ran the country at a volatile period in its history – overseeing tension in Northern Ireland and the uncertainty over Britain’s relationship with the new European Community.
With him comes a new cast member – Jason Watkins, a stage star who won a BAFTA TV award for his role in “The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies.”
Watkins has also taken up comedy roles, including in BBC series “W1A,” but he’s a relative newcomer to international audiences.
The Queen Mother
Marion Bailey takes over from Victoria Hamilton as Queen Elizabeth, the mother of Colman’s Elizabeth II.
Series two focused in part on the Queen Mother’s concerns about the increasing modernization of the monarchy, a theme which is likely to play a part in the third edition too.
The royal family’s matriarch was a generally popular public figure for much of her 101-year life. She’ll now be played by Bailey, an actress known mostly for her work in British theater.
Bailey has starred in several productions helmed by her partner, the legendary film and theater director Mike Leigh.
Like plenty of the cast, she has royal pedigree too. While Colman played the Queen Mother before taking her role as Elizabeth II, Bailey did it in reverse – she’s previously portrayed the Queen in the play “Handbagged,” which explored the monarch’s relationship with Margaret Thatcher.
The Queen’s eldest son and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, figures to play a more prominent role in the third and fourth series of the show.
In his late teens at the outset of the third series, viewers will seem him navigate the start of adulthood. Also featured is his 1969 investiture, the formal ceremony in which Charles officially became the Prince of Wales.
The event, watched by millions in Britain and around the world, was met with a hostile reception among Welsh republicans and was the target of a failed bombing attempt by the paramilitary group Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru.
Charles will be played by Josh O’Connor, a 29-year-old English actor who rose to prominence through his role in the 2017 indie film “God’s Own Country.”
“The Crown” will land on Netflix around the world on Sunday.