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The Crown: Gillian Anderson To Play Margaret Thatcher On Season 4

The Crown has cast its Iron Lady. 

The Sunday Times reports that Gillian Anderson will portray Margaret Thatcher on the impending fourth season of Netflix's acclaimed historical drama series The Crown. Netflix declined to comment on the casting news, though it appears the ink has already dried on Anderson's deal. 

The first female Prime Minister of England who earned the moniker "the Iron Lady" for her uncompromising political beliefs and her constant toughness in debating with others on the world stage, Thatcher served from May 1979 until November 1990. Prior to her run as England's PM, she acted as a Member of Parliament, the Secretary of State for Education and Science for Edward Heath's Conservative government, the Leader of the Conservative Party, and the Leader of the Opposition. Thatcher passed away in 2013 at the age of 87. 

For The Crown, which has yet to even air its third season on the streaming site, Anderson will join a host of new faces boarding the show. The show is replacing most of its central stars for season three as the story shifts further down the timeline of Queen Elizabeth's life. These include Olivia Colman, who will take over the throne from Claire Foy on seasons three and four; Tobias Menzies, who replaces Matt Smith as Prince Philip; Helena Bonham Carter, who grabs the Princess Margaret torch from Vanessa Kirby; Josh O'Connor, who takes over from Julian Baring as Prince Charles; Marion Bailey, who succeeds Victoria Hamilton as the Queen Mother; and Ben Daniels, who will portray Antony Armstrong-Jones. 

An American-British actress herself and an honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to drama, Anderson is more than "British enough" to bring to life Thatcher for The Crown. She will, however, have some major shoes to fill — those belonging to Meryl Streep, who last portrayed Thatcher (and won an Academy Award for her stunning turn) in Phyllida Lloyd's 2011 British-French biographical drama The Iron Lady. Anderson also follows in the footsteps of another revered actor who appeared as a political figure on The Crown: John Lithgow, seen as Winston Churchill, the Queen's first Prime Minister.

The Crown season 3 is said to open in 1964 and chronicle the Queen and her family's lives through to 1970. It's also expected to cover Harold Wilson's first term as Prime Minster (from October 16, 1964 until June 19, 1970); might introduce Prince Charles' second wife, Camila Parker-Bowles; include Prince Edward's birth in March 1964; and document Prince Charles' 1969 coronation as the Prince of Wales. Season 4, on the other hand, will cover Wilson's second stint as the head of the British government (from March 4, 1974 to April 5, 1976), introduce Lady Diana Spencer, and, of course, see Thatcher rise from the Leader of the Opposition to the position of Prime Minister.

Though some had speculated that perhaps Thatcher would first appear on The Crown at the end of season 3, the details of Anderson's casting seems to confirm that the Iron Lady won't play a part in the series' story until season 4. 

The Crown marks another big-ticket Netflix project for Anderson. The actress best known for her role as Dana Scully on The X-Files is currently crushing the comedy-drama game as sex therapist Dr. Jean Milburn on Netflix's hilarious original series Sex Education, which premiered earlier in JanuaryIt goes without saying that Margaret Thatcher on The Crown is a much different gig than her free-spirited one on Sex Education, but there's little doubt that Anderson can deliver a top-notch performance — and prove to the bigwigs at Netflix that there's plenty of room on the streaming platform for her to explore. Post-The Crown, we just might see more of Anderson in Netflix's content library. 

Netflix hasn't yet announced release dates for The Crown season 3 or season 4.