I’ll be honest, Kristen Stewart is not anywhere near top of mind when I think of an actor to play the late Princess Diana. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.
But then, I remind myself of Stewart’s transformative powers and versatility as evident in her very different roles: Vonnie in Café Society, Tracy in Into The Wild, Joan Jett in The Runaways, the list goes on. My point is, stay with me here for a little bit.
As reported by Deadline, Pablo Larraín is set to direct Stewart to play Princess Diana in Spencer, a drama that we will likely see as part of the Cannes Film Festival’s virtual line-up. The film will explore a critical weekend in the life of Diana – the one where she decided to end her marriage to the Prince Of Wales, Charles.
With the plot taking place over three days in what will have been her final Christmas at the House Of Windsor, production is expected to begin in early 2021.
“We all grew up, at least I did in my generation, reading and understanding what a fairy tale is,” Larraín told Deadline. “Usually, the prince comes and finds the princess, invites her to become his wife and eventually she becomes queen. That is the fairy tale. When someone decides not to be the queen, and says, I’d rather go and be myself, it’s a big big decision, a fairy tale upside down. I’ve always been very surprised by that and thought it must have been very hard to do. That is the heart of the movie.
“How and why do you decide to do that? It’s a great universal story that can reach millions and millions of people, and that’s what we want to do. We want to make a movie that goes wide, connects with a worldwide audience that is interested in such a fascinating life.”
In the past, movies about Diana’s life have not done well.
Naomi Watts played the princess in a 2013 biopic called Diana. It focused in on her affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Dr Hasnat Khan. Jessica Chastain was actually originally meant to play the lead role but pulled out – and unfortunately, it was duped “car crash cinema” by critics. “The awful truth is that, 16 years after that terrible day in 1997, [Diana] has died another awful death,” one journalist for The Guardian wrote.
Genevieve O’Reilly played The People’s Princess in Diana: Last Days Of A Princess, a 2007 release which marked ten years since her death. O’Reilly was heavily criticised for not being able to speak like the former Royal but she escaped reasonably unscathed since the film itself was a mix of documentary footage, interviews and re-enactments.
Will Stewart be able to change this tune? Maybe.
If you are looking for something to watch on Diana’s life, I think the best and most moving and candid documentary is Diana: In Her Own Words, streaming now on Netflix.