Rising star Sarah Gadon is the latest actress to play a British monarch on the big screen. In A Royal Night Out, she stars as a young Queen Elizabeth II who shares an unforgettable night out in London with her sister Margaret (played by Bel Powley), as the two princesses celebrate the end of World War II. Gadon’s portrayal of the naïve-but-strong Elizabeth gives the audience a keyhole into what it was like to be royal, young, and still tethered to familial obligation. Gadon got her big break opposite Julianne Moore and Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, and can next be seen next to James Franco in the Hulu original series II.22.63, a time-travel drama set around the assassination of JFK. We sat down with the Canadian actress who opened up about playing royalty, how she stays grounded as her star rises, becoming a fan of James Franco, and Hollywood's tricky relationship with gender.
When you read the script for A Royal Night Out, were you excited or intimidated?
Oddly, I felt such a personal connection to the story and the film because my grandmother was British and fought in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in WWII. My grandfather was in the British Royal Navy, and they met during WWII and fell in love. She was a war bride and they were in Trafalgar Square celebrating on VE night. This story is like a love letter to my grandparents and that time. When I was doing my research about Elizabeth and I was reading her biographies, one of the things that stuck out was the idea that they had been taught that when you fall and you scrape your knee, you don’t make a face. You don’t show your emotions—that’s a sign of weakness. That way of thinking was the absolute antithesis of how I was brought up.