Top 10 Best Depictions of Real Life Royals in Movies



Top 10 Best Depictions of Real Life Royals in Movies

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
There's nothing like taking a look into the lives of royal families. Even though these are only depictions of real life royals, it doesn't make them any less entertaining and intriguing. In this countdown we take a look a the Top 10 Best Depictions or real life royals in movies. We've included Claire Foy's performance as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Crown”, Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in “Marie Antoinette, Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II in “The Queen”, Laurence Oliver as King Henry V of England in “Cleopatra” and more!

Top 10 Best Depictions of Real Life Royals in TV and Movies

Everyone wants to see how the other half lives. Welcome to MsMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Depictions of Real Life Royals in TV and Movies.

For this list, we’re looking at representations of famous blue bloods on the big screen and the small screen..

#10: Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II

“The Crown” (2016-)

Netflix’s hit series “The Crown” follows a young Queen Elizabeth II as she navigates the challenges of being a 25-year-old female monarch. The narrative begins before Elizabeth’s coronation and follows her through the beginning of her rule. Claire Foy does a great job of portraying the character, which must be all the more challenging as the Queen is still alive and we can only presume she watches the show! Foy has already been awarded both a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in the first season of the show. Sadly, Foy will only play the part for two seasons total before another actress is cast as an older Elizabeth.

#9: Yul Brynner as King Mongkut of Siam

“The King and I” (1956)

This musical production was released in 1956 to critical acclaim, receiving nominations for nine Academy Awards, with Yul Brynner taking home the statue for Best Actor for his portrayal. You could say Brynner was used to playing the role, as he acted in the stage version of “The King and I”, giving the performance a total of 4,625 times. In modern times, the film probably would have received criticism for casting a white actor in the role of the King of Siam, but it was the ‘50s, so this sort of whitewashing wasn’t widely recognized as an issue yet. Retroactive criticism aside, this remains a notably powerful performance, even decades later.

#8: Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette

“Marie Antoinette” (2006)

Sofia Coppola’s 2006 retelling of the story of Marie Antoinette received mixed reviews from critics, but at least Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of the young irreverent queen was a fresh and memorable one. Marie Antoinette gets a bad rap in popular culture, past and present, being shown as selfish, snobby and disconnected from the French people. But Dunst manages to convey the monarch as a sympathetic character - a girl taken from her home at a young age and brought into a court where she knew no one, only to bear the brunt of the blame for the lack of a quickly-produced heir. Dunst truly succeeds in humanizing this often-demonized historical figure.

#7: Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II

“The Queen” (2006)

It seems like Helen Mirren was made to play this role. Honestly… she has an air of royalty about her even when she’s not in costume. And she is a dame after all! This film shows a behind the scenes look at the royal family’s reaction to Princess Diana’s sudden death in 1997. It particularly focuses on Queen Elizabeth II’s controversial view that since Diana and Charles were divorced, she should not receive a royal funeral, but rather a “private affair”. Mirren swept the 2006 awards season, picking up an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, AND a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for this role.

#6: Kenneth Branagh as Henry V, King of England

“Henry V” (1989)

You may recognize him as the notoriously egotistical Professor Lockhart from the “Harry Potter” series, but before he headed to Hogwarts, Kenneth Branagh directed and starred in several movies based on famous Shakespeare plays. Arguably his most memorable role was Henry V, in the much revered movie by the same name. The film was so critically-lauded that it maintains one hundred per cent on Rotten Tomatoes. Branagh’s spirited delivery of King Henry’s famous speech to his troops, ending with the iconic line “'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,” was just one of his many scene-stealing moments, which earned him a well-deserved Oscar nod.

#5: Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

“Cleopatra” (1963)

Elizabeth Taylor’s portrayal of this Egyptian queen is so iconic that it remains a serious challenge for anyone else to attempt the role. Taylor’s seductive performance has cemented the way Cleopatra is viewed today. And yet, this movie had a famously disastrous production, including massive budgetary issues, illness, a high profile affair, troubled shooting, and a changeover of various actors and the director. In fact, it nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. At the time, it was the most expensive movie ever made, and despite being the highest grossing film that year, it proved unprofitable. Although Taylor retrospectively called it her career low, to this day, for many people... she IS Cleopatra.

#4: Laurence Olivier as King Henry V of England

“Henry V” (1944)

Decades before Kenneth Branagh tackled the subject, the story was popularized by Laurence Olivier who similarly worked as both director and lead actor on the film. Like Branagh, he was nominated for best actor. What he did take home however, was a special Honorary award for his work as actor, producer and director in bringing this classic to the big screen. The film was released near the end of WWII, and was requested by Winston Churchill as a morale booster for British troops. Roughly a decade later, he gave another rousing royal cinematic performance as Richard III, again being nominated for Best Actor, only to be beat out by Yul Brynner’s aforementioned performance.

#3: Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria

“The Young Victoria” (2009)

Female-led British royal period pieces often focus on one of the two Queen Elizabeths, but in this 2009 film, Emily Blunt shines as Queen Victoria. She ascended the throne in 1837 when she was only 18, and went on to reign for over 63 years. The beginning of her rule was marred by disagreements among those around her as to how she should wield her influence. This power struggle forced Victoria to be strong-willed in the face of adversity and to assert herself in order to be with the man she loves. Emily Blunt manages to show the softer side of this famous queen, in addition to her better-documented determined nature, delivering a remarkably nuanced performance.

#2: Colin Firth as King George VI

“The King's Speech” (2010)

King George VI took the throne at a tumultuous time in English history, a couple of years before the beginning of World War II. The great grandson of Queen Victoria was not meant to inherit the throne as he had an older brother, Edward VIII. But when his brother abdicated the throne in order to marry a divorced socialite, George VI was thrust into the spotlight. This film focuses on the king’s speech impediment and the therapy he went through to improve it. Firth won the major trifecta of acting awards for this role, including an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a SAG award. It was truly the performance of a lifetime.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Matt Smith as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

“The Crown” (2016-)

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII of England

“The Tudors” (2007-10)

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria

“Victoria” (2016-)

#1: Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I of England

“Elizabeth” (1998)

The daughter of infamous King Henry VIII and the ill-fated Anne Boleyn endured a difficult and tumultuous coming of age after her mother was executed. Queen Elizabeth took the throne when she was 25 and not only consciously decided not to have children, but famously refused to marry, effectively putting an end to the Tudor dynasty. Blanchett portrays Elizabeth as the complex character that she was, simultaneously naive, witty, defiant and shrewd, and earned an Oscar nomination for her work. Nearly a decade later, Blanchett reprised her role in a continuation of the monarch’s story: “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” delivering yet another powerhouse performance.

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