Kristen Stewart is set to play one of the most famous women of all time. Deadline reports today that Stewart will play Princess Diana in Spencer, a biographical drama that follows the late royal as she comes to the decision to divorce Prince Charles.
Pablo Larraín, who directed 2016's Jackie, starring Natalie Portman as the titular first lady in the days following her husband's assassination, will helm Spencer. The film is set to begin shooting in early 2021 and will follow Diana over three days in 1992, as she makes the decision to abandon royal life and her loveless marriage to Prince Charles.
"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," Larraín told Deadline. "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."
Larraín said the film will take place during Christmas at the Sandringham estate, where the royal family typically spends the holidays. “It’s about finding herself, about understanding that possibly the most important thing for her is to be well, and to be with herself and by herself,” Larraín told Deadline. “That’s why the movie is called Spencer, which is the family name she had before she met Charles.”
Spencer will be written by Steven Knight (The Girl in the Spider's Web, Peaky Blinders) and produced by Larraín, alongside Juan de Dios, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, and Paul Webster. The project will be shown to buyers at the upcoming Virtual Cannes Market to get distribution rights. As for the unexpected casting of Stewart as Lady Di, Larraín told Deadline her flexibility as an actress made her a prime choice for the role.
"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," the director explained. "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. I think she’s going to do something stunning and intriguing at the same time. She is this force of nature."
The movie won't depict Diana's tragic 1997 death, but will explore the enduring love she had for her children, Prince William and Prince Harry. Harry similarly left royal life with his wife Meghan Markle earlier this year. Larraín told Deadline that Diana's willingness to trade nobility for a normal life inspired him to tell her story.
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.
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