Chilean director Pablo Larraín will direct a film about one “critical weekend” in the life of Princess Diana, with Kristen Stewart starring as Britain’s revered and reviled sweetheart.
Titled ‘Spencer’, Steven Knight’s screenplay (Eastern Promises, Locke) will focus on the period in the Princess’ life in which she decided her life with husband Prince Charles wasn’t working and that she needed to forge her own path away from the entrapping confines of the British Royal Family.
The news has been met with both excitement and nervousness among cinephiles and critics alike. Kristen Stewart’s last biopic, in which she played the troubled actress and activist Jean Seberg, received lukewarm praise from audiences. Moreover, the last Princess Diana biopic, Diana, in which Naomi Watts played the princess during the last two years of her life, received overwhelmingly negative feedback.
However, Pablo Larrain’s restrained Jackie, where Natalie Portman starred as Jackie Kennedy in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination, was met with rapturous reviews and three Oscar nominations. His slow-paced, unshowy and instinctual filmmaking was seen as a breath of fresh air in the often formulaic biopic genre, spelling good news for Spencer. His most recent release, Ema, about a reggaeton dancer whose life changes when she adopts a child, was also a critical success.
What’s more, Kristen Stewart has long shed the cobwebs of her days as ‘the girl from Twilight’, going on to prove her acting chops in many recent projects such as Clouds of Sils Maria (for which she won the César Award for Best Supporting Actress) and Personal Shopper.
“Kristen can be many things, and she can be very mysterious and very fragile an ultimately very strong as well, which is what we need. The combination of those elements made me think of her. The way she responded to the script and how she is approaching the character, it’s very beautiful to see.”Pablo Larraín
Kristen Stewart’s celebrity mythology has long fascinated the tabloids, who were infamously cruel to the late Princess. Stewart’s shy demeanour, yet involvement in publicized scandals such as her affair with Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders whilst still in a relationship with Robert Pattinson, bear some similarity to that of Diana’s. With Princess Diana rejecting a royal, fairytale destiny and Kristen Stewart bidding adieu to blockbusters in favour of indie cinema, there’s an interesting comparison to be made with the two women’s lives. But her personal life aside, Stewart’s accomplished acting skills make the news of her casting an exciting prospect.
Production is reported to begin in early 2021.
Words by Steph Green