Who Is Jason Watkins, Who Plays Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 'The Crown'?

Jason Watkins has one of the toughest roles on season 3 of 'The Crown'— Harold Wilson, the prime minister who established a rapport with Queen Elizabeth.

Face, Head, Chin, Forehead, Nose, Wrinkle,
(Image credit: Getty Images)

British actor Jason Watkins has perhaps one of the toughest roles to play on season 3 of The Crown—the complex, accomplished, and yet controversial British prime minister Harold Wilson. Wilson established a strong rapport with Queen Elizabeth and helped usher her (and the royal family by extension) into a modern age through his two terms...only to resign suddenly after his party was dogged by scandal, then increase in popularity with the British people afterwards.

Watkins has already made a name for himself as an impressive actor in his native country, and will undoubtedly be a household name after his performance in the Netflix series. So what do we know about him? 

Watkins is a well-known actor.

Watkins hails from the U.K., and has acted in a number of British productions. You might know him from his role as politician Emlyn Hooson in A Very British Scandal (as well as other roles, if you happen to be an Anglophile like me). He won a BAFTA for The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies:

When it was announced that he'd been selected, Watkins said, "I am delighted to become part of this exceptional show and so thrilled to be working once again with Peter Morgan. Harold Wilson is a significant and fascinating character in our history. So looking forward to bringing him to life through a decade that transformed us culturally and politically. And excited to be working so closely with Olivia [Colman] and the whole team."

Watkins has been honest about his life, including tragedy.

Watkins lost his 2-year-old daughter to sepsis, despite their responding to her initial illness in exactly the way the doctors advised (sepsis is a blood infection in the body in response to an illness that can particularly, and suddenly, impact children). "In the morning our other daughter, who shared a room at the time, came in in the morning and said, 'I can't wake Maude.'" he explained. "She had died on the morning of New Year...I'm not shying away from it, it's almost Dickensian...that within modern medical practice that this could happen."

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And in his BAFTA speech, he dedicated the award to her, and said he wouldn't be where he is without her.

He's playing an important figure in the Queen's life.

Obviously, Netflix isn't going into specifics, but chances are season 3 will dive into the positive relationship Wilson had with Queen Elizabeth (played by Colman).

Queen With Wilson

(Image credit: Fox Photos)

"Unlike many of his predecessors, Wilson did not come from a traditional ruling class background, and consequently he has been attributed to opening the Queen’s eyes to a world beyond her social class. Royal biographer Robert Lacey noted, in particular, that he 'persuaded the Queen to drop a lot of stuffy protocol that had remained since Queen Victoria.'" So it'll be a really interesting, meaty role, and a compelling historical period.

Netflix will release season 3 of The Crown on November 17.

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Katherine J. Igoe

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.