E! is set to premiere their first scripted dramatic series when The Royals debuts on March 15, 2015 at 10pm ET/PT. The series revolves around a fictional Royal Family with Elizabeth Hurley playing the Queen of England, Vincent Regan as King Simon, William Moseley as Prince Liam, and Alexandra Park as Princess Eleanor. And during the Television Critics Association’s winter press day I had the chance to sit down with Elizabeth Hurley (along with a couple of other journalists) to find out what it was like to play the Queen and why we’re still so fascinated by the Royal Family.
How fun is it to play someone so manipulative and complex?
Elizabeth Hurley: “Well, you know actors often say that it’s more fun to play bad than good, and I have played more villains than good people, actually, lately. I think it’s always something you can get your teeth into. But I think with my character Queen Helena the jury’s very much out whether she’s more good or bad. I think without a doubt she does bad things, but I think it’s definitely open to a jury that some of those things are for the greater good. She loves the nation; she loves her subjects. She does love her family and she does want everyone to be fabulous. Unfortunately, she does sometimes take devious steps to make that happen. But I would argue that it’s very possibly for the greater good.”
The idea of abolishing the Monarchy makes great television, but does that idea horrify you as a Brit?
Elizabeth Hurley: “I would hate the Monarchy to be abolished! I love it! I think it’s just fabulous. I get hours of enjoyment from watching them do their thing. I think they’re kind of fab.”
What do you like most about Queen Helena’s wardrobe?
Elizabeth Hurley: “The big rocks. She’s got a lot of diamonds. She has tiaras, rings… When they first started doing my costumes they brought in, in my opinion, some rather disappointing jewelry. I said, ‘She’s the Queen of England. She has to have big rocks!’ And so the big rocks came in.”
They aren’t real, are they?
Elizabeth Hurley: “Some are real. Some are definitely real. I wanted to steal all of them. Sadly, I didn’t get any of them.”
Who has the better style: Queen Helena or Kate Middleton?
Elizabeth Hurley: “Queen Helena has the advantage in that she’s allowed to wear a great deal of foreign designers, whereas our real Royal Family tend to wear only British designers which are fabulous but Queen Helena’s got the variety.”
What were the responses from your friends when you told them about playing the Queen of England?
Elizabeth Hurley: “I think it’s very important for us to say it’s a fictitious view. I’m personally not very interested in actors portraying living anybody, actually, living monarchs when we don’t know anything about their private lives. I think it’s a very grey area when you’re just making up stuff. So for us, I think once people know it’s fiction…if you’ve watched any of it you’ll know after the first 10 seconds that it’s fiction. You can see it’s fiction. I think then people just love it. Why not? It’s a good story with great characters. There’s a million storylines you can think of.”
Why do you think Americans remain so fascinated by the Royal Family?
Elizabeth Hurley: “Well I think they are the first celebrity family of the world, and they always have been. No matter how much other non-Royal people become famous, it’s still the Royals that make people just go, ‘Wow.’ I suppose it’s a combination of their birth along with they just kind of look fabulous and we kind of see it as a fantasy world of which we have no part. We’re looking through the window and it’s great.”
Is your son interested in watching the show?
Elizabeth Hurley: “My son’s obsessed with the show. My son’s nearly 13 and he came to the set every day of shooting. He sort of stood behind every department; he was allowed to watch in the editing suite. He could stand with the lighting crew. He could be with the camera crew for a while. He really loved it. He read all the scripts and he learned all of my lines, and then he learned everybody else’s lines. He was running lines all day. He just thought it it was the biggest treat on earth.”
– By Fred Topel
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