But, outside of the succession line, the Netflix series also introduces viewers to one of the century’s most iconic women, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who is played by Gillian Anderson.
From her uncanny mannerisms to her slow, raspy voice, Anderson’s portrayal of Thatcher has received widespread praise from viewers and critics alike, with some describing it as “jaw dropping” and “impeccable”.
The actor went to great lengths to ensure her transformation into the recognisable prime minister was as authentic as possible but, according to Anderson, nailing Thatcher’s precise, familiar hairstyle was one of the most important elements in bringing the character to life.
In a new interview with Harper’s Bazaar, the Sex Education star revealed the lengths to which the Netflix show’s hair and make-up team went to in order to make her portrayal so life-like, joking that “no wigs were harmed” in the process.
To recreate the divisive world’ leader’s distinct look, Anderson said the team designed a number of different wigs and tried out several make-up looks before settling on the rose pink lipstick and bouffant hairstyle we see the character perfecting in several scenes.
“So part of the process is choosing what elements of her voice to keep so that it feels consistent and it feels somewhat grounded in an aspect of my voice while at the same time feeling like Thatcher,” Anderson explained. “Then, starting with all the fittings for the wig, of which there were many, and costume fittings and make-up.”
Speaking of the prime minister’s make-up look, Anderson revealed that the team initially wanted to use shades that were emblematic of the 1980s. However, after performing screen tests they decided that bright blue eyeshadow appeared “too dense”.
“She wore a kind of a blue eye shadow, and initially, they wanted to find a blue that felt very much like it was from the 1970s, 1980s,” she said. “And actually during the camera test, we found that it was too dense. The one that they found that was actually a vintage eye shadow that didn’t work at all. And we had to find something that was much more contemporary that felt like it would sit in the HD format better, and same with the lipstick and the particular shade of copper that she wore.”
As for Thatcher’s hair, which appears to be somewhat of an architectural marvel in the new series, Anderson said the team of hairstylists created two different wigs; a softer, blonder hair to reflect a less severe image of who she was at the start of her political career and a warmer, thinner and receding wig to signify her loss of power.
“I think in the end, there were two wigs, one that represented the first half of her episodes and one that represented the second half, and then there were doubles and triples of those,” Anderson explained.
“I don’t think there were any situations where one of the wigs got ruined. Although, with some of the stalking in that scene in Scotland, it’s possible that that one was affected, but you know, Thatcher is not doing somersaults. So, you know, I don’t think many were destroyed in the process. No wigs were harmed [in the process of being Margaret Thatcher].”
Anderson has shared a number of behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram to show fans what was really involved with her transformation into Thatcher.
While one post features a slideshow of images showing her sat in hair and make-up, surrounded by images of the former prime minister, another features the stages involved with applying the wigs and close-up looks at each of them.
In her most recent post, Anderson wrote the caption: “An ode to my wig(s)”, alongside a photo of her smiling at the camera with her own hair peeking out of a bouffant-style wig.