Kristen Stewart on playing Princess Diana in Spencer

·4-min read

There is no shortage of fictional portrayals of Princess Diana in mainstream media. From The Crown to, er, a musical (yep!), the "people's princess" has been immortalised in various fictional representations since her death.

Yet there's something wholly unique about Spencer. Written and directed by Pablo Larrín, who previously took on another famous femme in Jackie (starring the entirely overlooked Natalie Portman), Spencer takes place over four days around Christmas, during which Diana is navigating her life on the Sandringham estate.

Ahead of the film's debut, Digital Spy sat down with Kristen Stewart to discuss stepping into the shoes, almost literally, of one of England's most famous women.

Photo credit: NEON
Photo credit: NEON

Obviously, Diana is a fashion icon — and a lot has been made about women talking about clothes, but it's very important to her. How did the costumes impact your character development?

Kristen Stewart: I mean it's really important to get the wardrobe right in this one, as it always is. But obviously, like you said, in this case, the clothes define her.

There are times where I look at pictures of her [when she was younger] and she looks dressed like a doll, and there's a vulnerability in that and it's kind of awkward, she's jutting out of them. Like, kids are like 'someone put this sweater on me' and she's sort of sticking out of it.

She's just this undeniable person, even when she's not killing [it, fashion wise], and then when she's wearing something that she clearly likes, and is beautiful... you can tell if she's feeling herself. The clothes in this movie feel like bondage. They weigh her down.

Photo credit: YouTube/NEON - YouTube
Photo credit: YouTube/NEON - YouTube

There was a lot in the movement you brought to that role, her physically trying to break out of this bind that is the clothes but it's also the house and the title.

Yeah, and the space is so big and she's very small. The director was really smart in the way that he shot the movie. It was either sort of drowning in immense space or so close that it was like this... choking thing.

Close proximity of camera space, even the temperature of the movie feels cold – like it feels chilly, it feels like "[just] turn up the heating."

I really liked that part because it's so straightforward. The movie's not plot-heavy. If you were an alien that just dropped down onto the Earth and didn't know about the royal family or Diana, or what ultimately happened, the movie would make no sense.

Photo credit: NEON
Photo credit: NEON

We bring our memories and our projections to the film. And so it's very curious and sort of psychotropic.

It was so much more interesting to talk about the temperature, what it felt like from the inside – not what happened, and specifically describing how she thinks of everyone in the royal family. That it's cold and that they won't turn up the heating is just such a perfect metaphor for what's going on.

The film has so many themes around gaslighting and mental health – how much of that was already there on the page and then how much was you teasing out different themes for her?

The script was so good. It was so precise. And to have something so specific and finely drawn also allows for so much of your own feeling and thought to inhabit the space.

It was so impressive and weird and I was like, he's [Larrín] truly like a master and this was so right for him to do.

I personalised everything. I love what the movie says about the whole. And he did such a beautiful job of kind of touching on every subject, like skipping the rock.

Photo credit: NEON
Photo credit: NEON

It's not about things that happen, it's about those little touchstones and moments for her over the span of four days, and how those things reflect her life up until this point as a woman trying to figure out her place.

Yeah, like when Charles [played by Jack Farthing] goes: "There has to be two of you. Sometimes you have to make your body do things you hate." Obviously, Diana is not always thinking about the trajectory of her life, when you're living in the moment.

That line says so much about what happened and it is a pretty expansive idea, but for me, I was just like, "So you hate me? You're saying that you hate me." You know what I mean? I wanted to make sure to not be aware of all the allegory.

Of what the future held.

Exactly. To just be in the present moment, and allow the lines to lead you – to not feel self-aware.

Spencer is out in cinemas on Friday, November 5

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