Emma Corrin has some competition. Kristen Stewart is donning Princess Diana’s iconic bob for Spencer, the latest film from Jackie director Pablo Larraín. The 31-year-old actress’s new project will depict a formative decision in the late royal’s short life: The moment she decided to end her marriage to Prince Charles. And The Crown fans will have something to tide them over until season 5’s anticipated 2022 premiere date, as Spencer is expected to hit theaters by the end of 2021.
Here’s what we know about Spencer so far.
When can I watch Spencer?
Spencer will make its highly anticipated world premiere before a select audience at the Venice Film Festival, which kicks off on September 1, 2021. But it will then have a wide release in theaters on November 5, 2021.
The drama will arrive right before 2022, which would mark the 25th anniversary of the Princess of Wales’s death.
What can we expect of Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Princess Diana?
On June 17, 2020, Deadline reported that Stewart was cast in the film.
“Kristen can be many things, and she can be very mysterious and very fragile and ultimately very strong as well, which is what we need,” Larraín gushed to Deadline at the time. “The way she responded to the script and how she is approaching the character, it’s very beautiful to see. I think she’s going to do something stunning and intriguing at the same time… As a filmmaker, when you have someone who can hold such a weight, dramatic and narrative weight just with her eyes, then you have the strong lead who can deliver what we are looking for.”
When Neon, the production company behind the film, announced that shooting began on Jan. 27, 2021, Stewart released a statement. “Spencer is a dive inside an emotional imagining of who Diana was at a pivotal turning point in her life,” she said. “It is a physical assertion of the sum of her parts, which starts with her given name, Spencer. It is a harrowing effort for her to return to herself, as Diana strives to hold onto what the name Spencer means to her.”
What does Stewart’s transformation as Princess Di look like?
For anyone who found Stewart’s casting puzzling, two stills released by the film’s production company, as well as paparazzi photos from set, illustrate the actress’ astonishing transformation into the late royal.
It all started on Jan. 27, when Neon released the first look at the film.
At the end of January, paparazzi captured Stewart on set at Friedrichshof Palace in Germany, which will stand in for Sandringham Palace in the movie. Stewart wore a cream cowl-neck sweater similar to one worn by Diana during a 1983 photo shoot at Kensington Palace. More photos were released from set in February and March.
On March 25, Neon released another photo of Stewart as Diana to announce that shooting had moved to the U.K.
On March 29, paparazzi published photos of Stewart on set in a red varsity jacket and jeans, similar to an outfit Diana was photographed wearing on a school run with Prince Harry in 1992.
The official poster for Spencer, which Neon shared on August 25, features a portrait of Stewart as the princess, wearing her signature bob, as she cowers in a white strapless gown. The image is likely teasing the intense drama to come in the film.
Is there a trailer yet?
Not publicly, but Neon did reveal the trailer to viewers at CinemaCon on August 25. According the Deadline, the trailer shows glimpses of Diana’s royal life around palace grounds—including “suits, shots of lobster, asparagus soup”—and emotional moments of personal turmoil. Other scenes reportedly show Stewart’s Diana in tears and surrounded by paparazzi.
We’ll just have to wait until the footage is officially released online.
When do the events in the film take place?
Spencer will chronicle Diana’s last Christmas married to a member of the royal family. At the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk in 1991, she came to the conclusion that she needed to divorce Prince Charles.
Here’s how Neon describes the plot:
December, 1991: The Prince and Princess of Wales’ marriage has long since grown cold. Though rumours of affairs and a divorce abound, peace is ordained for the Christmas festivities at Sandringham Estate. There’s eating and drinking, shooting and hunting. Diana knows the game. This year, things will be a whole lot different.
“I’ve always been intrigued and fascinated by the royal family and how things are in that culture, which we don’t have where I come from,” Larraín, who grew up in Chile, told Deadline in June 2020. “Diana is such a powerful icon, where millions and millions of people, not just women, but many people around the world felt empathy toward her in her life. We decided to get into a story about identity, and around how a woman decides somehow, not to be the queen. She’s a woman who, in the journey of the movie, decides and realizes that she wants to be the woman she was before she met Charles.”
He expanded on how Diana’s perception of motherhood would also be a main component of this story: “The key is how she discovers during the process of the movie that what she really needs to do is be who she wants to be,” he said. “And by that, it doesn’t mean she needs to be next to anyone, to be part of anything, but herself and her own children. Diana was many things, but chief among them, she was a great mother. This is the story of a woman who understands the most important thing for a woman in her life is her own children.”
Who’s playing Prince Charles?
Jack Farthing will portray the Prince of Wales. Neon announced the casting of the 35-year-old Poldark star on March 26.
Who else is in the cast?
Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins, and Sean Harris have been cast in undisclosed roles.
German model and actress Olga Hellsing will play Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York, while Thomas Douglas will play Diana’s father, Earl John Spencer, Deadline reported on March 26.
Who is working behind-the-scenes?
In addition to Larraín behind the camera, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight wrote the script, while Portrait of a Lady on Fire cinematographer Claire Mathon took on director of photography duties. Jacqueline Durran, Oscar winner for Little Women, serves as costume designer, Wakana Yoshihara is head of makeup and hair design, Guy Hendrix Dyas serves as production designer, and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood will compose an original score.
“We all grew up, at least I did in my generation, reading and understanding what a fairy tale is,” Larraín told Deadline in June 2020. “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.”
Will the movie touch the sensitive topic of Diana’s death?
No. Because the film takes place in 1991, it will not tackle the late princess’s tragic death in a 1997 Paris car accident. “She died years after where our story is set and so we don’t deal with that,” Larraín explained to Deadline. “[Spencer is] only three days of her life and in that very small amount of time, you’re able to get into a wider, bigger perspective of who she was. We all know her fate, what happened to her, and we don’t need to go there. We’ll stay in this more intimate space where she could express where she wants to go and who she wants to be.”
How did Stewart approach Diana’s accent?
In October 2020, Stewart opened up about preparing to play Diana during an InStyle interview with her Happiest Season director Clea DuVall. “The accent is intimidating as all hell because people know that voice, and it’s so, so distinct and particular,” Stewart said. “I’m working on it now and already have my dialect coach. In terms of research, I’ve gotten through two and a half biographies, and I’m finishing all the material before I actually go make the movie. It’s one of the saddest stories to exist ever, and I don’t want to just play Diana—I want to know her implicitly. I haven’t been this excited about playing a part, by the way, in so long.”
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