‘Spencer’: How Kristen Stewart Approached Playing Princess Diana

Pablo Larraín’s Spencer is a biographical drama starring Kristen Stewart in the lead role. Steven Knight wrote the screenplay, who also wrote the Tom Hardy character piece, Locke. Spencer follows Diana during the Christmas season of 1991. She spends the holiday with the Royal family but comes to terms with the fact that she no longer wants to be married to Prince Charles. There has been social media chatter about how Larraín intends to approach Diana and her story.

‘Spencer’ is on its own path

The press has been making some comparisons between Spencer and Netflix’s The Crown. Larraín spoke with Indiewire about how he has shrugged off any comparisons. “I’ve seen every episode of The Crown not only for this movie but because I like it,” he stated. “It’s very good television. Peter Morgan and his team really know what they’re doing. I really respect and admire that. But the way we approach similar historical materials and the humanity of these characters is just different.”

Spencer has been compared to more than just The Crown. The interview that Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex did with Ophrah Winfrey regarding the Royal family was also brought up. However, Larraín also rejected such comparisons. “There’s a lot going on in the Royal family right now and I’m not the person who can draw any conclusions about it,” the director said. “The audience can do that for themselves. I can say that I have enormous respect for William and Harry. When I look at them, I remember Diana and that she was a mother above all else.”

Larraín has a clear focus on exploring a fictionalized tale of Diana in Spencer. It’s natural for people to make comparisons to other Royal family content, but he isn’t drawing inspiration from any of those projects.

Kristen Stewart cast as Princess Diana

Larraín has been keeping an eye on Stewart ever since her dazzling performance in Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper. Spencer‘s development was full speed ahead after Stewart’s casting. “There were many things she delivered that words cannot describe,” Larraín recalled of her performance. “That’s where cinema starts to operate.”

Stewart worked with dialogue coach William Connicker to make sure that the performance was correct. She didn’t want the performance to depict Diana in an obvious fashion. “She was never trying to mimic Diana,” Larraín said. “That’s where dangerous things start to happen. She created a character who can ride illusions in a very intimate and mysterious way. As an actress, she’s very difficult to read.”

Larraín expressed how impressed he was with Stewart’s transformation into the character. She embraced crucial elements of Diana, but she also brought a bit of herself to the role. “Once she was confident with the accent and all the sort of practical verbal issues, she became a poetic combination of herself and Diana,” he said. “I don’t know what most people see in Kristen, but I see someone who was able to find the physicality and style of the great actresses of ‘50s and ‘60s. We felt like we were looking at an old-school type of performance in the best possible way. We just couldn’t stop admiring what she was doing.”

He continued: “I witnessed an incredible connection between Kristen and [cinematographer] Claire,” Larraín said. “They were literally dancing — the camera and the character. It was just so beautiful to see.”

Kristen Stewart’s ‘Spencer’ Accent

There were some initial concerns about an American actor playing Diana. There is an abundance of British talent who would have loved to play the part. However, Stewart truly impressed Larraín. She’s still often referred to as the actor from Twilight, but she has dispelled any questions regarding her acting ability over the years.

The Spencer trailer displayed exactly why Stewart was right for the part. Her mastery of the accent impressed audiences around the world. However, it’s more than just the way that she speaks, but also how much she’s able to communicate through facial expressions.

Spencer will be in theaters on Nov. 5.

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