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The Crown Stars Discuss Their Bittersweet Final Season as the Royals

It's the end of an era

Sadie Gennis

Although The Crown's exploration of Queen Elizabeth's life is only getting started, Season 2 will be the final year for the Netflix drama's entire original cast.

As The Crown moves forward in time, producers will replace the original actors with more age-appropriate ones to reflect the later periods in the Royal Family's lives. It will be a bittersweet changing of the guards for the actors, many of whom have grown quite fond of their characters but are excited to see how the next generation of actors puts their own spin on these figures.

"If they pull it off, I think it could be really fascinating to see," Matt Smith, who plays Prince Philip, tells TV Guide. "I think it's really interesting to see how people are going to reinterpret it, and I think it keeps it fresh. And I think it's difficult to sustain an actor's interest over six [seasons]."

So far, Olivia Colman is the only new cast member who has been announced. She will take over for Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II for Seasons 3 and 4. The actors who will take over for Kirby and Smith for the next two seasons have not yet been revealed.

The Crown Season 2 Trailer Is Filled with Royal Drama

"I think it's really rare to find a part like this, especially that's set over time and you age with them over the course of a number of hours, which is a beautiful gift," adds Vanessa Kirby, who plays Princess Margaret. "I think it's going to be a really wonderful thing for someone else to take up and interesting for the series."

In Kirby and Smith's final turns as Margaret and Philip, each character will embark on a life-changing journey as the series enters the 1960s. For Philip, it's the five-month world tour Elizabeth sends him on - one that winds up rocking their marriage to its core. As for Margaret, it's her attempt to pick up the pieces of her life after Elizabeth vetoed her engagement to Peter Townsend (Ben Miles) in Season 1.

This season, Margaret will seek solace in the arms of a bohemian photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode), whom she eventually marries and starts a family with. But as followers of history know, Tony was far from Margaret's happily ever after, and as much as Kirby loved exploring Margaret's youth, she admits she would have loved the chance to explore Margaret's equally, if not more fascinating life in '70s and beyond.

"I have loved playing Margaret so I'm sad that I don't get to play later stages in her life just because they were really fun," Kirby says. "She gets to go to Mustique and her marriage breaks down and she starts dating all these really cool people."

It'll be interesting to see how The Crown handles the cast overhaul in Season 3, as well as the series inching closer and closer to present day. But for now, we're just happy to have another season with Kirby, Smith and the rest of the original stars.

The Crown premieres Friday, Dec. 8 on Netflix.