While preparing for her new role on Season 3 of The Crown, Helena Bonham Carter definitely did her homework. In fact, she went above and beyond — beyond the realm of the living, that is. The Crown star Helena Bonham Carter used a psychic to get ready to play Princess Margaret, the actor recently revealed to The Guardian. And the psychic was apparently able to connect her with the late royal herself, and she ended up getting some pretty useful tips.
Bonham Carter spoke to The Guardian about taking over the role from Vanessa Kirby — who played Margaret in the first two seasons of The Crown — during an appearance at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. The actor admitted that she used all kinds of resources to get a feel for the Princess, but Margaret proved to be the most crucial resource of them all. Not only that, but she supposedly gave Bonham Carter her blessing, too.
"[Margaret] said, apparently, she was glad it was me," the actor told the outlet in an interview published on Oct. 6. "My main thing when you play someone who is real, you kind of want their blessing because you have a responsibility." Bonham Carter then went on to explain, "So I asked her: 'Are you OK with me playing you?' and she said: 'You’re better than the other actress' … that they were thinking of [for the part]."
It was exactly that kind of comment that led Bonham Carter to believe that the psychic had, in fact, been able to connect with the Princess. "She was really good at complimenting you and putting you down at the same time," the actor said.
Margaret was the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II, and was widely regarded as a bit of a royal rebel. She passed away at the age of 72 back in 2001, but she had actually met Bonham Carter long-before The Crown graced the small screen. "My uncle was actually very close to her," the actor told Entertainment Weekly in December 2018. "She was pretty scary ... At one point, she met me at Windsor Castle and she said, 'You are getting better, aren’t you?'," which — according to the actor — was seemingly a bit of a backhanded compliment about her acting abilities.
The first two seasons of The Crown covered the years 1947–55 and 1956–64, respectively, and showed both Elizabeth and Margaret in their 20s and 30s. The third season will fast-forward things a bit, which is why almost the entire cast is being replaced with new actors to embody slightly older versions of the characters. In addition to Bonham Carter taking over for Kirby to play Margaret, Olivia Colman will replace Clare Foy as Queen Elizabeth II. Ben Daniels will replace Matthew Goode as Margaret's husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, aka, Lord Snowdon, and Tobias Menzies will step into the role of Prince Philip, which was previously played by Matt Smith.
Despite the fact that Margaret supposedly gave Bonham Carter the go-ahead to play her, she still gave the actor some important pointers to work on. "'You're going to have to brush up and be more groomed and neater,'" Bonham Carter told The Guardian of Margaret's suggestions. "Then she said: 'Get the smoking right. I smoked in a very particular way. Remember that – this is a big note – the cigarette holder was as much a weapon for expression as it was for smoking.'"
As seen in early press photos of Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, it seems the actor took the note. The third season of The Crown premieres on Netflix on Nov. 17.