Imelda Staunton talks true-crime drama A Confession and preparing for The Crown

In the true-crime drama A Confession, Imelda Staunton plays Karen Edwards, a mother who's still looking for her daughter eight years after she disappeared, while Martin Freeman portrays Steve Fulcher, a cop investigating the case of another woman who has vanished, albeit much more recently.

"This is really the story of the uncovering of the perpetrator by Steve Fulcher," says Staunton, whose movie credits include 2004's Vera Drake, for which she was Oscar-nominated, and the Harry Potter franchise. "I never like to call it a drama; it was a real story. It's penned by Jeff Pope [Philomena], who has done many dramas and great storytelling and managed to use the book that Steve Fulcher's written and and press cuttings to piece together this story."

Below, Staunton talks more about A Confession and her preparations for playing Queen Elizabeth II in season 5 of The Crown.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What attracted you to A Confession?

IMELDA STAUNTON: Well, it's funny using that word "attracted" because it's such a harrowing piece and a true story, as you know. But I felt it was written with such honesty and intelligence and sensitivity, without any sensational qualities to it, and that's the kind of work I love. So I was really delighted to be part of that.

Can you tell us about the person you play?

Well, of course, she's a real person. I did meet with Karen Edwards twice, and that was difficult from my point of view because it felt very weird having to ask her — I didn't really ask her about it, she was just very forthcoming. She was really an open book, and so generous, and also she wanted this story to be told. It was wonderful that she was so friendly and her spirit was so strong and positive.

What was the shoot like?

It was like any other job, but we had an extraordinarily sensitive and pragmatic and inspiring director, Paul Andrew Williams. He wouldn't settle until he got what he wanted. So that was really satisfying. The way it was made was as sensitive as it was written.

Did you sit down and watch the finished result?

Yes, I did. They sent it to us, and I watched it in a couple of sittings, and I thought it was really really well done. For me, that's the sort of television I like, when something is honest without any stuff around it. I like to be entertained like the rest of us, but I thought this was very beautifully done and I felt rally really proud to be part of that.

It was recently announced that you will play Queen Elizabeth II in season 5 of Netflix's The Crown. Have you started researching the role yet?

Yep, yep, of course, yep. That's sort of ongoing. Yeah, I'm doing that.

Do you know when that will shoot?

I think everything in the world is going to get pushed on, isn't it? So who knows? I've been chipping away at it quietly.

A Confession premieres May 12 on BritBox.

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