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Kristen Stewart on how scared she was to play Princess Diana in 'Spencer'

In this article:
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  • Kristen Stewart
    Kristen Stewart
    American actress
  • Diana, Princess of Wales
    Diana, Princess of Wales
    First wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (1961-1997)

Kristen Stewart and director Pablo Larraín talk to Yahoo Entertainment about her tranformation into portraying Princess Diana in Spencer.

Video Transcript

- Your Royal Highness.

- Mummy.

- You.

- Family are all gathered in the drawing room. They are waiting.

KEVIN POLOWY: Just taking on this role from the get-go, how daunting or nerve-wracking was it playing a real life figure as treasured and revered as Princess Diana, especially those first couple of days on set?

KRISTEN STEWART: I was scared for sure. I think undeniably, I could sit and sort of theorize about us having really genuine personal curiosities about her and that whatever we ended up making was coming from the right place and that, ultimately, you have to do things that scare you and trust fall with directors that you believe in and that have perspectives that they're committed to.

But two weeks before we started shooting the movie, I was like, you know, having TMJ that made me not able to open my mouth. I couldn't even run my lines with my dialect coach. I was obviously feeling the personal weight that I put on myself because I grew to really love her as a character and feel like I knew her. So yeah, it's not what you might think, like oh god, everyone's going to stare at this. Everyone's going to get under a microscope. I was genuinely, I think, personally, I just put a lot of pressure on myself because I grew to love her.

KEVIN POLOWY: Pablo, were you aware that Kristen was having those fears? And also, what did you see from her that made you go, we made the right call here, no doubt?

PABLO LARRAÍN: I never saw her panic. I always felt that she was a very sort of into it.

KRISTEN STEWART: I didn't want to scare him.

PABLO LARRAÍN: Yeah, but I also, I saw you working and focused. That's what it takes, at least for a start. And then when we started shooting, I just felt that we were having a very beautiful connection with the team, Claire, and everyone was behind the camera and with what Kristen was sharing emotionally. And somehow I believed that these things work when the audience is able to be with her and share the point of view. That's the key. If that doesn't work, if we're not getting in and she's not letting us get in, then the movie has a wall in between. And I never felt that. Of course, there were moments that were more difficult than others. But it was just bright and beautiful to see her doing it in front of us every day.

KEVIN POLOWY: Kristen, how would you say your viewpoint of Diana changed or evolved over the course of this filmmaking experience?

KRISTEN STEWART: There wasn't like enormous surprise or evolution on my perception of her because it wasn't highly developed before I came to this project. I didn't have any expectation of her. I didn't have anything where something she would do would be like, oh, I can't believe Diana did that. Because I didn't know her. I knew that she was adored and coveted and lost too soon. And that was really like where my knowledge of her stopped before I endeavored to make this movie.

KEVIN POLOWY: Pablo, the film details how uneasy Diana felt with these royal traditions the year before she separated from Charles. You guys filmed the short way after Diana's own son, Harry, and his wife stepped away from their own royal duties. I mean, given the timing of it all, was that on your minds during filming? And did that, in turn, sort of inform this story at all?

PABLO LARRAÍN: Not really, the movie, the origin of the movie and the story, it's older than that. But we were really focused on her life and her experience on this planet. And I don't think we look up to anything else but her life.