Matt Smith believes he was cast in new Ibsen play after German director saw him in The Crown

Smith, who played Prince Philip in the first two seasons of the Netflix drama, admitted he was worried about distractions from the audience in the theatre
Smith, who played Prince Philip in the first two seasons of Netflix drama The Crown, said he 'was in luck' - Robert Viglasky/Netflix
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Matt Smith believes he won the starring role in a new Ibsen production after the German director saw him in The Crown.

The actor said he received an email about a new West End production of An Enemy of the People asking if he would like to meet director Thomas Ostermeier for lunch.

“I was in luck,” he said. “I’m not sure - I don’t think he’ll mind me saying this - that Thomas had a great knowledge of English actors or their work.

“But he had watched The Crown and he’d enjoyed it.”

Smith, who played Prince Philip in the first two seasons of the Netflix drama, admitted he was worried about distractions from the audience in the theatre.

“I’m not a guy who would even take sweets into a cinema,” he said.

“So, yeah, I do worry about noise. But I think there’s a cultural thing where at home we watch a movie or The Traitors or whatever, and at the same time, we’re also (scrolling on mobile phones).

“Surely to God we can concentrate and suspend our disbelief for two hours - if it’s an interesting enough play, and part of that is up to us, keeping people interested.”

The actor, who last appeared on stage in Lungs at the Old Vic in 2019, also expressed concern that it had become too expensive to go to the theatre.

“I hope we’re not pricing young people out,” he told the Observer. “I mean, the theatre is so much money, for all of us. You sort of go: I could fly to Milan or Amsterdam (for that).”

Long been ‘fan’ of Ostermeier

The Doctor Who star said he had long been “a big fan” of Ostermeier.

“I’d seen his Richard III, and I knew of his relationship with Lars Eidinger, an actor he has collaborated with for years,” he added.

“So we had lunch together, at one of my favourite restaurants, and I was just really struck…

“He’s sort of impressive. I’d always thought that if he ever did work in London, I’d check in and go and see it, because that’s the kind of theatre I want to be engaged with: the stuff that tries to push things to the edge of… everywhere.”

After their lunch, he said he called his agent immediately to say he wanted the part of Thomas Stockmann.

“I think that’s what you should do if you’re lucky enough to get in a room with someone you really want to work with,” he added.

An Enemy of the People is at the Duke of York’s Theatre until April 6.

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