When The Crown’s fourth season landed on Netflix, the country was buzzing with excitement at the show’s new arrivals. There was debate over Gillian Anderson’s Thatcher impression and Emma Corrin’s beguiling Diana. But amid the noise, the showpieces and the hot topics, there was Erin Doherty. Stealing every scene she appeared in, her Princess Anne may not have been the heart of the show, but it was undeniably its spine.
‘And now, it’s not part of my life anymore,’ Erin, who is now playing the lead in the BBC’s psychological thriller Chloe, told Grazia. ‘It’s the biggest shock,’ she says. ‘[When] I said it out loud for the first time…I had the breakthrough of my body and brain connecting that I’m not going to play this woman any longer. I realised I had to let go of her. It’s a sad thing.’
Erin’s performance as the Queen’s only daughter won her rave reviews. The whirl of the third season’s publicity tour blurred into awards season. Last year, the 28-year-old rubbed shoulders with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston at the SAG Awards, walking away with the prize for Best Ensemble. And then, when she should have been using the universal acclaim as a springboard to stardom, the world changed.
‘We’d just finished filming the fourth season the week before everything shut down,’ she explains. ‘The brakes got put on everything, and my mental health did dip. As an actor, I didn’t have a purpose. I’d gone from zero to 200 miles per hour and then back to zero. I glimpsed red carpet life, and then it was gone again. To sit in my own thoughts was a difficult process at first, because you tune in with where your body and your mind and your soul and your spirit are. Part of that process is going, “Right, I really need to look at this, because I don’t feel very happy about that,” or, “I really haven’t addressed these issues that may have been there since childhood.”’
How did she cope? ‘I learned to juggle,’ she says. As in, manage your priorities and responsibilities? She laughs. ‘No. As in, I’ve got juggling balls in my bag. It’s kept me sane. I just needed to focus on something.’
She also enjoyed the public response to The Crown. Her most impactful scene was also her simplest: sitting on a blanket under a tree, talking with Olivia Colman. It wasn’t showy. The Queen and Anne are discussing the latter’s struggle with being compared to the young, glamorous Diana, and her unhappiness in her marriage. ‘That’s my favourite thing that I got to do in the whole two years of the show,’ Erin says. ‘It was the ultimate pay-off of portraying and painting this woman in this light: she knew who she was, she is armoured and guarded. But to reach this episode and show that she is vulnerable, to show the cracks within this stone wall, to show she has a heart, that she feels pain, but just doesn’t quite know how to reach out to people, that is really quite poignant. I read the script and thought, “This is going to be brilliant.”’
Despite the show’s reach – 21 million households tuned into season three in its first month – Erin told Grazia that she’s never recognised. She credits a love of hats for this feat. But her lifestyle previously remained determinedly unstarry, too. ‘I don’t feel like my life has changed,’ she insisted. ‘I live in a house share with six people and a dog. Everyone is always around, wanting to use the kitchen at the same time, when I just want to cook my spaghetti.’
But with the success of Erin’s latest project Chloe, that may be all about to change. The show has been praised as a triumph thanks to her ‘excellent’, ‘outstanding’, and ‘thrilling’ performance as the identity thief Becky Green who infiltrates the life of a dead women called Chloe.
Erin bounces from Becky’s drab life of caring for her mother and working as a personal assistant to hijacking Chloe’s glamorous former existence filled with member’s clubs and lavish dinners.
Created by Sex Education’s writer and director Alice Seabright, the show follows Erin’s character with nervousness as we watch her attempt to build a better life for herself on a foundation of lies – much like the real-life scam artist Anna Delvey… but with added drama.
It’s evident that Erin is fearless with the projects she’s taking on since leaving The Crown behind: ‘If the script is good enough, I’ll probably do most things,’ she told Grazia. ‘I’d shave my head. If it’s right, l’ll do it. The type of actors who I admire have this sense of danger about them. Like Joaquin Phoenix. You watch him and go, “I don’t know what you’re going to do next. But I have to be there.”’
While navigating her success, Erin will have the support of her Crown family. She says Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) will be a friend for life, primarily because he requests weekly photographs of her dog via WhatsApp.
Next, she’s planning to break from her house share and has signed up to star alongside Star Wars’ John Boyega in Netflix thriller Rebel Ridge. Erin tells Grazia she dreams of a career like those of her personal greats, like Sarah Paulson or Meryl Streep. It’s clear that for this star little is off-limits.
Stylist's assistant: @sammiey_hughes