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Emmys FYC: Nina Gold On Casting the Queen of England for ‘The Crown’

How do you cast The Queen of England? Nina Gold, Emmy®-nominated casting director of The Crown talks to Awards Daily TV about her process.

Casting director Nina Gold worked on casting Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and The King’s Speech. This year, she received an Emmy nomination for her work in casting Netflix’s The Crown. How do you cast one of the most famous women in the world? How do you cast Churchill? Gold explains how she put aside thinking of her as The Queen and cast the person.

Gold and I caught up recently to talk about her role as a casting director and just for fun, who she’d cast as James Bond.

How do you cast the Queen of England?

It’s quite a frightening thought, isn’t it? You have to forget about her as The Queen, and so you cast her as a person. Otherwise, you can’t really get anywhere. The Crown pomp and ritual stuff are really great, but the stuff we really like is who the fictional real person is. That’s the interesting bit.

Claire Foy is a delightful find. How did you find her?

I cast her in Wolf Hall, and she played Anne Boleyn. She was brilliant. I saw her in Drama school, and I’ve always liked her and thought she was really good. I’ve been trying to cast her for ages. She was never quite exactly right. She was the one you nearly went for but didn’t. Until Wolf Hall. I think she’s great.

She is marvelous. How long does it take for you to know an actress or an actor is right for the role?

I had a feeling about her from the beginning, and she auditioned a few times and was just really good. There was a moment before we met her when we had pondered the possibility of having a big name, but then we met her, and we met her again and again. She seemed to own it.

Was there a part that was hard to cast?

In England, whether we realize it or not, we do have some real built-in assumptions about what these people are like. The tiny details of class and the royal family is so embedded in all of us that it is a really daunting process to try to get all of that right.

Where does your role start and where does it end?

On this one, I stepped in at the beginning when Peter Morgan told me about it, and we started talking about it. We talk about it for a long time before we actually do anything about it. Then Stephen, Andy Harries and I just have endless discussions and talks. We start fleshing it out after a long time.

What’s the difference between casting for film and TV for you?

I don’t actually find it that different. With this sort of TV, the actors get a chance to grow with the part a bit more just because there are more episodes. You approach it differently because you want to find actors who grow with the character, but it’s not widely different.

Do you have more freedom in casting for TV?

For most of the TV that I’ve done, there’s not been a necessity to get a whooping great big box office name, and so it’s just fun finding people who are going to create the whole character rather than bring too much baggage with them as say a box office star would. So, in a way, you do have more freedom.

How is the casting director field in terms of equality?

Women have had it sewn up for a long time. It’s one of the few behind the camera areas where it’s predominantly women. I don’t know why, but it seems to be that.

Who knew that casting is ahead of the game?

I don’t know, but casting is not really about me. You have to be without ego and it’s all about the other person. Maybe it’s something women are slightly better at. Although, that’s a massive generalization.

Who were some of your favorite discoveries?

I would have to say, I didn’t discover him, but I cast him really early in his career. Daniel Kaluuya is just completely amazing, and he was in Get Out. He’s really great, I can’t say I discovered him, but I had my eye on him from an early age.

Photo: NBC/Universal

I guess a lot of the Game of Thrones actors because we found them when they were children, and it’s been great to watch them grow up.

I can’t say I discovered Claire Foy because she’s been working away in theater, and it’s great to find this part for her that she fit so incredibly well.

Do you have pressure on you to ensure there’s equality in casting?

There are obviously some stories you can’t change, such as with The Crown. There’s not much room to move there because of what it is. The only pressure is the pressure I put on myself. I think we are actively thinking of ways to get more interesting ways to have women play interesting roles such as why can’t this role be a woman? It’s happening more than it used too.

Lily James has been cast as the young Donna and Jeremy Irvine as the young Sam in the sequel to Mamma Mia. What can you tell us?

We have younger versions of everybody, and it’s been brilliant fine trying to find them. There’s nothing like singing a few good Abba songs to get everyone in a good mood. Lily is amazing and has the spirit of Donna.

Who knew she could sing?

That’s the thing I realized. Going for the lookalike is not the answer. It’s getting someone who can capture the spirit. She’s really good at singing. She’s also really good at having this unusual ability to tell a story through song. Some people have this uncanny ability. You don’t question why they’re singing. It’s just a continuation of dialogue through song.

There’s talk about the casting of the new James Bond, so just for fun, who would you cast?

I’m so glad I don’t actually have to do that. It’s not my problem. It would be fun, I don’t know, do you think they’d let us cast a woman? That would turn the concept on its head. The name is Bond, Janice Bond. It doesn’t have the same ring, so we’ll have to come up with something else.


Consider The Crown in the following categories:

Drama Series
Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Directing for a Drama Series
Writing for a Drama Series
Main Title Design
Production Design for a Narrative Period Program
Casting for a Drama Series
Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) – Rupert Gregson-Williams
Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series