IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Where else you've seen Imelda Staunton, 'The Crown's' new Queen Elizabeth

She'll be familiar to "Harry Potter" fans.

Every two seasons of "The Crown," the cast changes entirely. For Seasons Five and Six, the royal-centric show's last two seasons set in the ‘90s, Queen Elizabeth II will be played by Imelda Staunton.

Staunton takes over the role from Olivia Colman, who portrayed the character in Seasons Three and Four (and won an Emmy for doing so), and Claire Foy in the first two seasons.

Queen Elizabeth II (L) and Imelda Staunton (R).
Queen Elizabeth II (L) and Imelda Staunton (R).Getty Images, Netflix

Season Five is expected to cover the events of 1992, which the queen called her "annus horribilis" — or "horrible year"in a speech. In that year, three of her children separated or divorced their spouses and her beloved residence, Windsor Castle, was nearly destroyed in a fire.

It was a difficult time for the queen — and the show premieres at a difficult time for the monarchy, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8, 2022, at the age of 96.

Staunton told Entertainment Weekly she learned of the queen's death while filming "The Crown."

“That was pretty devastating,” Staunton told the outlet. She said playing the queen while people around the world were mourning her “was odd, to say the least.” 

A veteran stage actor, the 66-year-old has made some notable screen appearances — often playing characters that range from strange to scary. The same goes for her theater work: Take a look at her in "Sweeney Todd."

Below is more about her past roles.

'Sense and Sensibility' (1995)

"Sense and Sensibility" is a 1995 Jane Austin adaptation starring Staunton and Emma Thompson. Staunton’s character, Charlotte Palmer, is married to Hugh Laurie’s of “House” fame. Staunton and Thompson appeared in "Harry Potter" and "Nanny McPhee" together, too.

‘Shakespeare in Love’ (1998)

Staunton and her husband, Jim Carter (who you may recognize as Mr. Carson in “Downton Abbey”) have small roles in this film, set in Shakespeare’s theater world. She plays Viola's (Gwyneth Paltrow) nurse off stage; he plays a nurse on stage.

"Downton Abbey: A New Era" World Premiere - Arrivals
Imelda Staunton and husband Jim Carter in 2022. Samir Hussein / WireImage

'Vera Drake' (2004)

Staunton received acclaim as the titular character in 2004 film "Vera Drake," a period drama in which she plays a well-meaning housekeeper performing abortions even though it's against the law at the time. She is eventually caught, arrested and tried for her crimes.

She won best actress at the Venice Film Festival, later telling TODAY the "brilliantly complicated" film makes viewers consider all perspectives of abortion.

“It doesn’t take sides, and yet I don’t think it’s a soft-option film,” she said. “I think it’s loaded with emotion and compassion on all sides — the police, the law, the women who have it done, the women who do it. It looks at the whole picture and makes us question the whole issue.”

'Nanny McPhee' (2005)

One of Staunton's more quirkier roles is Mrs. Blatherwick, the family cook in 2005 film "Nanny McPhee." Throughout the movie, she says "snow in August" at the oddest times, but it actually comes true when the title character (Emma Thompson) uses her magic to create the perfect, snowy wedding in the summer.

“What was hard was going straight from ("Vera Drake") to ("Nanny McPhee"). It was terribly hard to pick up words that I hadn’t thought of," she told TODAY.

'Freedom Writers' (2007)

Staunton plays a meddling vice principal named Margaret Campbell in "Freedom Writers" who routinely stifles a young teacher's (Erin Gruwell played by Hilary Swank) efforts to go above and beyond for students because Campbell doesn't think they're worth investing in.

Staunton told Australian outlet Female, “My character, Margaret, has been teaching for thirty years and is very old-school. She is a very good teacher but is very stuck in her own ways. She doesn’t understand what Erin Gruwell is trying to do and finds it very threatening."

Staunton said the crux of their disagreements is "a lot of schools are stuck with bureaucracy and red tape, and some feel that if children can’t meet the standards, then there’s no sense in wasting precious resources to educate them. Erin Gruwell challenges that notion and Margaret tries to stop her.”

‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ (2007)

Imelda Staunton, Emma Thompson and Maggie Smith in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007.
Imelda Staunton, Emma Thompson and Maggie Smith in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007.©Warner Bros via Everett Collection

Staunton plays Professor Dolores Umbridge in two “Harry Potter” movies: “Order of the Phoenix” and "Deathly Hallows: Part One.” Don’t be fooled by her pink outfits and saccharine smile: The Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is one of the series’ most terrifying characters, and tortures her students with abusive measures (and one scary pen).

“I think she’s a bloody monster and to be played as such,” Staunton said told Entertainment Weekly. “I don’t need to understand what she does, but from a character point of view, she believes she’s doing the absolute best for that school. Yet again, I have embraced a completely and utterly deluded woman.”

'Downton Abbey' (2019)

Laura Carmichael, Imelda Staunton, Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey, 2019.
Laura Carmichael, Imelda Staunton, Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey, 2019.Everett Collection

Staunton plays an aide to a countess in the 2019 "Downton Abbey" movie. She told the U.K. publication Mirror that the 10 weeks it took to shoot the movie was a break from her usually rigorous theatre schedule.

“'Downton' was just luxury,” Imelda said. “It was like a nice box of chocolates. It’s so much easier doing filming, I’m telling you. I’ve done seven years of hardcore theatre, where it just beats me all the time, but this was great."

Staunton starred alongside her husband, Jim Carter, who plays Mr. Carson, in the movie. Her current "The Crown" cast mate Dominic West appeared in the 2022 sequel.