"The Crown" star Tobias Menzies on portraying Prince Philip: "Your brain starts to fizz a lot"

Tobias Menzies on "The Crown" Season 3

Actor Tobias Menzies is no stranger to success. In "Game of Thrones" he played Edmure Tully, the groom at the infamous "red wedding." His dual roles as Frank and Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall in "Outlander" earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Now, Menzies is taking over the role of Prince Philip in the hit Netflix show "The Crown."

Menzies is joined by Olivia Colman (an Oscar-winner for "The Favourite"), who is portraying Queen Elizabeth II (played in the show's first two seasons by Claire Foy).

"It's an unusual, almost theatrical gesture for a very well-known TV show, highly acclaimed, to change everyone in the cast," Menzies said on "CBS This Morning" Monday.

When asked what appealed to him in accepting the role, Menzies said, "Peter [Morgan]'s writing is fantastic. That really is the sort of bedrock of, I think, the success of the show. I think he's a very interesting man, Philip. There's a lot of complexity. So it purely is a sort of acting challenge, it's rich."

He also noted the technical challenge of playing someone famous whose voice and manner are so well-known.

the-crown-olivia-colman-tobias-menzies-netflix-sophie-mutevelian.jpg
Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II and Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip in "The Crown." Sophie Mutevelian/Netflix

Co-host Tony Dokoupil said, "You do quite a lot of studying to get into the role. As I understand it, you, despite growing up in the U.K., were not particularly a watcher of the royals. In fact, you would turn away during the Queen's address on Christmas Day. Sorry to out you here!" 

"Yeah. I hope I don't get fired!" Menzies said. "My family weren't, you know, that way inclined. My mom would not be a big fan of watching the Queen's speech on a Christmas morning. Yeah, so I had to learn quite a bit when I started working on the role." 

"Did your respect for them increase as you learned more?" 

"Absolutely, yeah. I think whatever your political stripe, you can't question the dedication and service that they have given to our country."

Co-host Anthony Mason said, "I talked to Matt Smith who, of course, played the younger Prince Philip in the first two seasons and said he actually grew quite sympathetic to the character. And then there's also this challenge of playing someone who's alive and could actually call you up one day." 

"You can imagine seeing him watching me doing him — I mean, your brain starts to fizz a lot," said Menzies. "I think the technical challenge is big.  I did come to have some sympathy for that life. I think it must be challenging. It's highly ceremonial, you're walking into a lot of rooms where people are nervous and tongue-tied, and, you know, it's a high quantity of sort of small talk, something I would be very bad at."

Regarding Prince Andrew's controversial television interview this past weekend in which he addressed his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein (who died in jail while facing federal sex trafficking charges), co-host Jericka Duncan asked Menzies about the media scrutiny faced by the royal family, and the media's role in how the royal family is portrayed.

"The relevance of it is striking," he replied. "I mean, we have an episode in Season 3 (Episode 4), which is absolutely about the family's relationship with the media, and Prince Philip attempting to open it out and engage with the media more. That's obviously been continuing all these years with, you know, very mixed results. It's been a real challenge to that family. Obviously this most recent version of it with Andrew's interview feels, like, problematic at best."

To watch a trailer for Season 3 of "The Crown" click on the video player below:

The Crown Season 3 | Official Trailer | Netflix by Netflix on YouTube

See also: 

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.