Jonny Lee Miller: ‘I grew up in a very socialist household… I’m pretty leftie’

For The Crown’s Season 4, everyone knew that the Margaret Thatcher role would be a huge showcase for the right actress, and there actually was a palpable sense of relief when Gillian Anderson took the part. While Thatcher’s old henchmen came out of the woodwork to complain about Season 4, I think at the end of the day, The Crown was pretty kind to Thatcher overall, and one of the best things the show did was show how deeply removed Thatcher and the Windsors were from the economic devastation Thatcher largely caused. I’m not sure we’ll get the same kind of intense focus on the John Major years, but I still think it was inspired casting to put Jonny Lee Miller in the role. While Major’s former staffers and Tory elders have been throwing tantrums about The Crown right and left, JLM has stayed out of it. He’s barely did any advanced promotion, and it basically looks like he did a brief junket and then showed up to the premiere and that’s it. Still, even Jonny was pretty kind to Major:

Jonny Lee Miller has opened up on his journey playing former Prime Minister Sir John Major during season 5 of The Crown. The actor revealed he had discovered similarities between himself and Sir John and, despite their opposing political views, the more he learned about the politician the more he began to ‘like’ and ‘respect’ him.

Speaking to and other press ahead of the season’s release, Jonny shared: ‘I grew up in a very socialist household, a very left-wing household. I’m pretty leftie, and as a youngster at the time, we thought we knew who John Major was and what it was about. He got a lot of flak back in the day,’ he added, ‘[but] the more I learned about him the more I began to like him, and we had a lot of similarities.

‘We’re from the same part of the world – he’s from Worcester Park, I’m from Kingston. We both went to state grammar schools, we had theatrical parents. So I had all these things in common, and then the more you learn about the work that he did – my respect for him grew massively.’

The Elementary actor also said he felt the former PM had been ‘very misunderstood’ as he explained how he had tried to bring his interpretation of him to life.

Through a lot of reading and watching footage of him, but the 49-year-old said that he was ‘trying to fall in love with him. That’s what you’re trying to do really, is you’re trying to inhabit someone, you’re trying to fall in love with him. That’s always a fascinating journey, and especially with someone who I think was very misunderstood, actually, and who I respect greatly.’

[From Metro]

I always sort of forget that Jonny is a socialist. I knew he was left-leaning, for sure, but to hear him talk about his socialist family is pretty great. I can imagine what the Miller family thought about the Thatcher-Major years. Honestly though, history has seen Major as a more effective leader than Thatcher. Maybe Major is due some kind of revisionist history too. Starting with casting a charismatic socialist actor to play him. Anyway, I love that Jonny just sounds unbothered. Dominic West has taken the same tack – just pretend that there’s not a huge royal/Tory campaign against The Crown and breezily promote the show like nothing’s happening.

Photos courtesy of Netflix, JW/Bang Showbiz/Avalon, Avalon Red, Cover Images and Backgrid.

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20 Responses to “Jonny Lee Miller: ‘I grew up in a very socialist household… I’m pretty leftie’”

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  1. Noki says:

    A movie star and a socialist?

    • bettyrose says:

      Isn’t it more normal to be a socialist when you’re from a country with strong socialist programs? In the U.S., calling yourself a socialist is like saying you want Iron Curtain style totalitarianism, but I feel like other places it just means “Hey, we like health care and education for all.”

      • SomeChick says:

        That’s actually what it means here too, but the oligarchy and the gqp have most everyone snowed.

      • Nic919 says:

        In Canada saying you are a socialist means universal health care and public schools. It has not been linked to soviet Russia as much as it has in the states.

        The discourse in the US on that terms has been distorted by the capitalists who run the country.

  2. Becks1 says:

    Great response. So far, I think he’s doing a great job as Major. I loved the scene where Charles was telling him that he was an outsider in a “but you’re so great even so!” kind of way and Major was just like, but I dont think I’m an outsider.

    I think he’s definitely up for an Emmy nom for this season.

  3. Flowerlake says:

    John Major’s role is not very small, but it is less about him than about him reacting to whatever the Royal Family is doing.

    Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Wilson, Thatcher all had more of their own storylines that weren’t always directly about the royals. He did get more spotlight than Heath and of course Callaghan, who I don’t think was shown at all.

    It was a very sympathetic portrayal, though. He seemed level-headed, sane and not vindictive. Though some of his expressions while he was reacting to said BRF were funny.

    I am too young to really remember Thatcher being in power (even though I was already reading British royal gossip around the end of her tenure, lol), but what I remember of Major was that he was not a very hated or polarizing figure. And that he was under pressure at the end. Maybe I’m wrong because I was still young and not British. Also do remember the UK as having living conditions that were not great, compared to many other Western countries. At least that was the impression I had, so I can imagine it not having been an easy time to be in charge.

  4. Concern Fae says:

    If someone had told my Hackers loving self back in the 90s that Jonny Lee Miller would end up playing John Major, I would have been flabbergasted. His career has been very interesting. It’s sad that his Sherlock Holmes was so overshadowed by Cumberbatch’s. It was different and so layered. Didn’t have that “love the ‘Batch, hate the Moffat train wreck” energy to drive the fandom mad. Sad, really.

  5. Lilly (with the double-L) says:

    I truly like Jonny and I don’t know about Major. I’m stuck at home for a little bit (hence posts today) and all these weird facts, or maybe false memories, come into my head. But, the only thing I can come up with about Major was that he tucked his shirt into his briefs. LOL. Again, that may not be an accurate factoid coming out of my post-surgery brain.

  6. Miss Owlsyn says:

    I want to honk for any articles about JLM but I don’t know anything about John Majors really….so ……

    I just want to point out that both Jonny and Angelina are single right now. I’m just saying.

    • Twin Falls says:

      As soon as I saw his name I thought of AJ.

      I suppose some actors try and find common ground to inhabit a role but conservative policies generally suck for most people. It hurts my leftist heart to hear him sing this man’s praises.

    • Steph says:

      They’ve seen each other a few times. I’m pretty sure it was written up here. @kaiser, link?

  7. Steph says:

    I don’t have anything to say about Majors. Never heard of the man until Charles started crying about the episode.
    That being said, how far are y’all into the season? In the episode about tampongate Miller had me in tears laughing. It’s only a split second but he’s reading the transcript and makes the funniest grossed out face ever. It’s supposed to be this serious dramatic scene, music and all, and I had to pause it cuz I couldn’t stop laughing.
    It was probably so funny to me bc I usually see him in roles where he is kinda extra, but this role is really quiet and stoic. The face was not though 😂

  8. Sarah says:

    Stop. Making. Me. Love. You. More.

    Damn you JLM.

    I’ll be watching Hackers if anyone wants me.

  9. Harla A Brazen Hussy says:

    I think what intrigues me the most about Jonny is that I imagine that we could have a rollicking afternoon (wink, wink) and have great conversations after, well after a nap.

  10. Ohmeohmy says:

    Goodness me add another reason to love him. Socialist babes