Josh O’Connor has said he is relieved he did not have his ears pinned back when he was schoolboy because they “certainly helped” him land the role of the Prince of Wales in the new series of The Crown.

The Durrells actor will play Charles when the big-budget drama returns to Netflix for a third series, with Olivia Colman taking over the role of the Queen from Claire Foy.

He told PA: “When I was at school I was embarrassed by them and I wanted to pin them back and now it’s like ‘Thank god I didn’t’.

Josh O'Connor
Josh O’Connor (Matt Crossick/PA)

“Hopefully I would have been considered for the role regardless but it certainly helped and, the way I see it, it just saved The Crown production on some prosthetics.”

He joked: “They were struggling for money, they were scraping around, so I definitely saved it. Everyone can thank me for that.”

O’Connor, who won plaudits for his role in the film God’s Own Country, said he has never experienced this level of anticipation for one his projects before.

He added: “It’s really weird. In some ways I wasn’t expecting it, which is bizarre because I probably should have expected it.

“I was really excited to play the character of Prince Charles and I just kept seeing it as a character and not as the real person so it’s a really strange thing and now everyone is obviously … there is a lot of buzz about it and people are excited and I’m really pleased.

“It’s a piece of work that I’m really proud of … you’re not always really proud of stuff but I am of that one. I’m really excited for people to see it.”

He also praised Colman for her performance, which follows her Oscar win for playing another monarch, Queen Anne, in The Favourite.

He said: “I don’t know how she does it, she’s a total hero. She somehow managed to balance having kids and having a family life and also go off and win a blooming Oscar and do everything else and she’s the best.

“I was going to say the best Queen Elizabeth ever but that would be harsh on Claire Foy; she’s an amazing Queen and she follows on from Claire Foy so brilliantly.

“She is totally disarming, she is a complete movie star but you wouldn’t know it, she’s just so down to earth and chilled and a pleasure to work with.”

O’Connor said he would describe his career so far, which includes new film Only You, about a couple dealing with fertility struggles, as “a sort of notes on masculinity and challenging masculinity and what that means, what masculinity means”.

He added: “Jake (his character in Only You) is a perfect example of that. He is the emotional one, he is emotionally articulate, and Laia (Costa’s) character is far less articulate with her emotions and her feelings, and that is totally different to Prince Charles and Johnny Saxby (his character in God’s Own Country).

“Generally speaking we know men as being closed off or not able to engage and it’s really nice playing a male character who isn’t and who wants to engage.”

He continued: “At the moment masculinity seems to be a huge theme for me, partly because for men it’s a huge challenge right now in society; our leaders are archaic masculine figures in so far as they are aggressively old-fashioned in their masculinity, people like Trump, potentially Boris Johnson.

“I don’t know what masculinity means and I guess that is what my interest is.”

Josh O’Connor’s new film, Only You, is released in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema on July 12.