Every Actress Who Played Queen Elizabeth, Ranked
England isn’t the only place where Queen Elizabeth II reigns supreme.
As it turns out, the monarch has also made quite an impression on the entertainment industry, inspiring multiple films and shows that depict her fascinating life. And no, we’re not talking about documentaries. We’re talking about fictionalized dramas and nuanced depictions of the famed royal and her family. From Netflix’s hit series The Crown to Oscar-winning film The Queen, these titles offer loads of insight on Her Majesty’s biggest milestones. But which performances stand out the most? Keep reading for a ranking of 11 actresses who played Queen Elizabeth II.
11. Neve Campbell in ‘Churchill: The Hollywood Years’
Neve Campbell appears as Princess Elizabeth in this 2004 satirical comedy, delivering a comedic performance as a young, determined Elizabeth who must help American GI Winston Churchill (Christian Slater) save the monarchy from Hitler’s evil plans. Unfortunately, Neve Campbell’s star power doesn’t make up for the cheesy story line.
10. Julie Walters in ‘The Queen’s Corgi’
Well, who can resist an animated version of the queen as a bubbly dog mom? Julie Walters voices the queen in this 2019 comedy, which tells the story of Her Majesty’s adorable pup, Rex, and his many adventures outside Buckingham Palace. Given that the royal has owned 30 Corgis in the span of 70 years, it seems fitting that the family-friendly film highlights her special bond with her pets.
9. Jane Alexander in ‘William and Catherine: A Royal Romance’
Jane Alexander’s charming interpretation of the queen’s character is sure to appeal to any royal enthusiast, especially those who enjoy Hallmark films. While the movie focuses on Prince William (Dan Amboyer) and Kate Middleton’s (Alice St. Clair) budding romance, it also shows the queen as a cheery, old-fashioned grandma, who's very protective of her grandson (and quite skilled at Wii tennis, might we add).
8. Maggie Sullivan in ‘Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance’
Maggie Sullivan has played the queen throughout the entire series (including Her Majesty in Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal and Harry & Meghan: Escaping the Palace). The actress depicts the monarch with warmth, all while channeling her steady gait, conservative style and coiffed curls.
7. Freya Wilson in ‘The King's Speech’
Her scenes aren’t major, but Freya Wilson portrays the queen as a carefree young child in the biographical film, which follows her father, King George VI (Colin Firth), as he trains to overcome his speech impediment. The movie wound up snagging an impressive four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
6. Emma Thompson in ‘Playhouse Presents’
Emma Thompson gives a very convincing performance as the queen in this fictionalized re-telling of a real-life event, where a man with schizophrenia breaks into Buckingham Palace and sneaks into the monarch’s bedroom.
5. Jeannette Charles in ‘Austin Powers in Goldmember’
Allow us to introduce the queen’s doppelgänger Jeannette Charles, who has played the monarch more times than any other person, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. You may have spotted her greeting Austin Powers (Michael Myers) in Goldmember, or perhaps you saw her in National Lampoon's European Vacation. (Fun fact: She also filmed a scene as Queen Elizabeth II in The Parent Trap, but unfortunately, the scene was cut).
4. Sarah Gadon in ‘A Royal Night Out’
The 2015 British comedy-drama follows teenage Princess Elizabeth, who joins her rebellious little sister, Princess Margaret (Bel Powley), for a fun night out on VE Day. Sarah Gadon brings new life to the character, depicting her as a multifaceted teen who can be stern one moment, but loving and warm the next.
3. Claire Foy on ‘The Crown’
Claire Foy’s nuanced and charming portrayal of the queen on this Netflix series is easily one of the best to date. Here, we see the earlier years of Her Majesty’s reign, right when the British Empire starts to decline along with her marriage. Foy does a phenomenal job of showing the queen’s resilience and poise, even during uncertain times. But the best part of her performance? Her stellar poker face.
2. Olivia Colman in ‘The Crown’
After Foy, Olivia Colman stepped in to play a more mature version of Queen Elizabeth, depicting her life during the mid '60s in seasons three and four. In the series, Colman offers a glimpse beneath the steely facade, showing the character can be sympathetic, emotional and, quite frankly, downright funny (we live for those unfiltered punchlines!). As far as we’re concerned, Colman’s Emmy Award and Golden Globe were well-deserved.
1. Helen Mirren in ‘The Queen’
The Queen, which focuses on the aftermath of Princess Diana’s tragic death, offers an intimate portrait of Her Majesty as she mourns behind palace walls. Helen Mirren’s performance is a bit like watching the queen herself, complete with stylish hats, elegant gray curls and a no-nonsense tone. The actress truly captures her grace and dignity and humanizes the monarch using wit and charm. It comes as no surprise that Mirren scored several awards and a personal invite to dine with the royal herself (!). Per The Guardian, Mirren reportedly had to decline due to a prior work commitment, but it’s safe to say the queen also approves of Mirren’s brilliant portrayal.