Paul Bettany Won't Star In 'The Crown' Season 3 After All [Updated]

Update: THR now reports that Paul Bettany has a scheduling conflict and will not star in The Crown season 3. So the hunt is on for a new Prince Philip. Our original story continues below.

All hail Prince Paul Bettany. As Netflix's The Crown jumps forward in history, the original cast is being replaced with slightly older actors to show the passage of time. The latest actor in talks for a lead role: Paul Bettany, who may be next in the royal line to succeed Matt Smith in the role of Prince Philip in The Crown season 3.

The new cast of The Crown season 3 is taking shape. Broadchurch's Olivia Colman will take up the mantle of the queen when she replaces Claire Foy as Elizabeth II, Helena Bonham Carter will take over for Vanessa Kirby as Elizabeth's sister Princess Margaret, and now Paul Bettany is in talks to replace Matt Smith in the role of Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip. The Hollywood Reporter confirms Bettany, who will appear later this year in both Solo: A Star Wars Story and Avengers: Infinity War, is in talks to step into the role played in the first two seasons of The Crown by Doctor Who's Matt Smith.

Each season of The Crown is intended to take place over a course of 10 years, which means after two full seasons now, we've gone through approximately 20 years of the reign of Elizabeth II. Rather than apply make-up to the current actors on the show, creator Peter Morgan instead decided to replace the cast with older actors as the years drag on. "You can't ask someone to act middle-aged," Morgan told Variety. "Someone has to bring their own fatigue to it. The feelings we all have as 50-year-olds are different than the feelings we all have as 30-year-olds. That informs everything we do."

The Crown season 2 ended in the early 1960s, capping-off with the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy and the Profumo affair. Season 3 will pick up in the 1970s, and likely end in the 1980s. Per Vanity FairThe Crown producer Suzanne Mackie confirmed that in season 3 audiences "start meeting Camilla Parker Bowles in Season 3." Prince Charles, the son of Elizabeth and Philip, met Camilla Parker Bowles in 1971. This also implies the show is moving ever closer to covering the events surrounding the late Princess Diana, whose death in 1997 shook the monarchy upside down, and lead to harsh criticism against Elizabeth II for how she reacted (or rather, failed to react) to the untimely death. These events were also covered in the 2006 film The Queen, written by Crown creator Peter Morgan.

While the current cast of The Crown is great, the replacement actors the series has been lining up so far are also fantastic, so the transition from younger to older cast should go smoothly. A premiere date for The Crown season 3 has yet to be announced.