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It’s been almost 25 years since Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a car crash in Paris. But the “people’s princess” has never lost her grip on the public’s imagination.
Now comes word that Kristen Stewart will play Diana in a new biopic, Spencer . Written by Steven Knight ( Locked Down , TV’s Peaky Blinders ) and directed by Pablo Larraín, the film is said to be in production now in Germany and the U.K., with a planned fall release that could potentially see it premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Larraín also made the 2016 biopic Jackie , which played Venice and Toronto and eventually received three Oscar nominations, including one for Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie Kennedy.
Spencer won’t even be the first portrayal of Lady Di to hit screens this year. Netflix is planning a May streaming release of Diana , a filmed recording of a stage musical that was set to open on Broadway on March 31 until the pandemic scuttled that plan. Jeanna de Waal portrays the princess.
Netflix also recently started streaming season four of The Crown , with Emma Corrin as a young Diana. It’s been announced that Elizabeth Debicki will take over the role for the final two seasons, starting in 2022.
Unlike The Crown and Diana , Spencer takes place over a single weekend in December of 1991, culminating in Diana’s decision to leave her husband, Prince Charles. They split the following year and divorced in 1996, a year before her death.
The last big-screen take on the life and death of the Princess was 2013’s Diana , starring Naomi Watts. Panned by critics, who found more issues in the screenplay than with Watts’ performance, the film made less than a million dollars in a limited U.S. release, and only $21-million worldwide.
Diana was as much a fashion icon as she was a celebrity, royal and philanthropist, and any take on her life demands scrupulous attention to detail in the costumes. The first released image of Stewart in the role shows her in a red coat and a black hat with delicate netting over her face, looking very much like the real Diana. Images have surfaced of the real Princess in similar garb, including on a visit to a spinal injuries unit in Sheffield, England, in 1986.
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