Michelle Fairley’s talent in Queen Charlotte

Actress Michelle Fairley is the mother/stepmother on duty, alternating command and docility with great ease. Some remember her as the mother of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and international star: the unforgettable Catelyn Stark, from Game of Thrones. For me, Michelle is the Queen Mother on duty, having played a strong Margaret Beaufort in The White Princess and now, more recently, stealing the show in Netflix’s Queen Charlotte, once again playing a mother and Queen, this time Princess Augusta, mother of King George III. If you’ve seen it all, like me, you realize that although the roles of the HBO series, LionsgatePlus, and Netflix have something in common, for each one, Michelle brings an exciting subtlety.

Born and raised in Ireland, moving still young to England, Michelle has always had a passion for theatre, starring from a young age in several high-profile productions and winning awards. In cinema, he played minor roles in The Others, The Invisible Woman, Philomena, and Harry Potter, among other productions. She has been very present on British TV since the 1990s, being in the cast of Safe and Sound, Game of Thrones, Suits, The White Princess, and Gangs of London. The professional turn came with the success of the play The Weir, in 1997, which made her more visible by starring in London and on Broadway.

For those who didn’t want to be a mother, it’s curious that it’s her maternal figure that reads so well in complex roles like Catelyn Stark, Margaret Beaufort, and now, Princess Augusta. They all have the passionate, protective, and tough side of Lady Stark, a role that Michelle only got after actress Jenniffer Ehle gave it up. And what a performance she gave us! If we still talk about the Red Wedding today, it is thanks to his performance and iconic scream that marked TV history.

The importance of an actress of Michelle’s caliber and giving humanity to difficult women. Catelyn Stark was fiercely protective of her children, but had a preference for Robb and Bran, almost neglecting the rest: Sansa, Arya, and Rickon. Even knowing Jon Snow’s innocence, her jealousy, and curiosity to know who the hero’s mother is has destroyed her inside and, as she admits, her family as well. In The White Princess, Margaret Beaufort‘s vibe is similar, but it is different because it is a woman who existed and who the actress defends.

There are narratives that place Margaret as a villain, a religious but hypocritical woman. Her true ambition, which she achieved, was to place and keep her son, Henry VII, on the throne of England, beating none other than Richard III. “You can’t play a villain as a villain. It’s not a comedy. It’s not a parody. These are real people and their convictions, their beliefs are what drive them. And Margaret believes that her son is the rightful heir to the throne, and that God guided kings and queens, and God was therefore on her side, and that justified whatever she did in order to obtain that,” she explained in an interview in 2015, for Elle.

It’s something that reflects what we see in Princess Augusta, Queen Charlotte‘s mother-in-law. As in the Netflix series, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg was Princess of Wales by marriage to Frederick, eldest son and heir of King George II. On her husband’s death before ascending the throne, she never became queen consort but helped raise her son, George III, as his successor, then regent until he came of age in 1756.

Augusta was not popular, but she took care of her son with a firm hand. A year after he ascended the throne, he married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, but the two women did not get along, largely because Augusta did not facilitate her daughter-in-law’s adaptation to English customs. To make matters worse, she hid George’s health problems from Charlotte. Michelle brings to the role the perfect tone of a mother of the nobility who needs to have politics and personal relationships aligned, even when it comes to heirs. Queen Charlotte does not show, but George III had brothers and sisters, one of them became the Queen of Denmark, Caroline, and her life yielded the film The Royal Affair, with Alicia Vikander playing her. But that’s another thread.

Were you moved by the series? I bet you did, and now I’m scared as to which mother/Queen we’ll see Michelle Fairley next.

In fact, she’s been cast in the film by her off-screen good friend Lena Headey, to turn their 2019’s short film The Trap into a long feature. Cersei Lannister and Catelyn Stark together once again? That’s right. The Trap is about “A woman who has cut herself off from the world but is slowly brought back to life through her friendship with a damaged young man”. Of course, we will follow!


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