Becoming The Iron Lady
YOU South Africa|3 December 2020
From the mannerisms and stiff-upper lip to that perfectly styled coif, Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher is spot on in The Crown
Nici De Wet

She spent hours preparing every day, getting that trademark helmet of hair just right, fleshing out her angular frame with a fat suit and plastering on the pancake makeup so she could look as close to the Iron Lady as possible.

And it clearly paid off. Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in season 4 of The Crown has earned her the highest praise. “Brilliant”, “viscerally physical” and “devastatingly precise” are some of the accolades being heaped on her performance by the critics.

One thing’s for sure: although this season of the hit Netflix streaming show has unleashed a hornet’s nest of controversy for taking liberal artistic licence with the facts, Gillian’s Thatcher is pretty spot on.

Stepping into the sensible shoes of arguably England’s most formidable prime minister would be a daunting task for anyone – but the 52-year-old has nailed it. From Thatcher’s commanding voice to her trademark power suits, Gillian channels the leader who ruled the United Kingdom during the ’80s with an iron fist. With viewers singing her praises, it’s not surprising the actress is being touted as a favourite to win big at next year’s awards season.

“I’m already giving you the Emmy for this,” the usually cynical late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel told her when she was a guest on his show recently.

And it will no doubt be welcome – the last time she won an Emmy was back in the ’90s for her now iconic role as FBI agent Dana Scully in the sci-fiseries The X-Files. Gillian says The Crown aims to give the whole portrait of Thatcher, not just her as politician. “We certainly see another side of Thatcher, one that has more of an emotional life than perhaps has been seen before,” she says. “For instance, the episodes where her son, Mark, goes missing.”

She threw herself into researching the PM – who was in office from 1979 to 1990 and died in 2013 aged 87 – reading everything she could lay her hands on and studying her speech and mannerisms.

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