Gillian Anderson Joins 'The Crown' As Margaret Thatcher

Gillian Anderson is steeling herself for her next role. Netflix has elected to cast Anderson as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in season 4 of The Crown. Anderson will be starring as the controversial political figure opposite Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, who replaces the Emmy-winning Claire Foy in The Crown cast starting with the award-winning Netflix drama's third season.

Following reports earlier this year that Anderson would be playing ex-prime minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, the Emmy-winning historical drama series confirmed her casting. The X-Files alum and Sex Education star joins the royal drama in its fourth season, which is now in production.

"I am so excited to be joining the cast and crew of The Crown and to have the opportunity to portray such a complicated and controversial woman," Anderson said in a statement announcing the news. "Thatcher was undoubtedly formidable but I am relishing exploring beneath the surface and, dare I say, falling in love with the icon who, whether loved or despised, defined an era."

Casting (the attractive) Anderson as a widely-disliked political figure has already raised some eyebrows, but Anderson calling Thatcher an "icon" is sure to rile some folks. Thatcher became leader of England's Conservative Party in 1975 and was elected England's first female prime minister in 1979, a position she held until 1990. During her term, her harsh policies were criticized for undermining the U.K.'s working class, earning her the nickname "The Iron Lady."

But the figure has proven to be a meaty role for actresses, with Meryl Streep winning an Oscar for her portrayal of the ex-prime minister in the 2011 biographical drama The Iron Lady. As eminently likable as Anderson is — and as much as her stances on LGBT issues fly in the face of Thatcher's own — I can't blame her for wanting to take on a compelling role in a drama that has so frequently been showered with awards.

The Crown season 3 is debuting on Netflix on November 17, 2019, though it's unclear when we'll meet Anderson's Thatcher in season 4.