Naomi Watts Looks (If Not Sounds) Like a Princess in ‘Diana’

Movie Talk
Naomi Watts, Princess Diana
Naomi Watts, Princess Diana

The international trailer for the upcoming biographical film "Diana" has been released, and with it our first really good extended look at Naomi Watts's performance as the late Princess of Wales.

All eyes are on Naomi with this film, and for good reason: She's playing one of the most celebrated and beloved public figures of the 20th century — indeed, "the world's most photographed woman." And such a role brings with it a performance that will be heavily scrutinized for accuracy and, inevitably, criticized for even the slightest adjustment from the real-life Diana.

The verdict, at least from what we can tell like a trailer? Naomi Watts delivers a respectful homage to "the People's Princess," and not a straight impersonation — which is probably a very good thing.

We first see Diana from above as she walks a red carpet in a stunning blue dress, a shot that immediately establishes our heroine as a larger-than-life and almost mythic figure. As we move in closer, she's switched costumes and now appears in a gold dress, surrounded by a mob of press and adoring public. This is a woman who was really never out of the public eye, try as she did to have something resembling a private life.

Where Watts really shines in the trailer is when she's showing off the work of the costume department — that got their hands on two dresses that Di actually wore. Diana attracted and inspired some of the top designers in the world, and "Diana" recreates at least part of her real-life wardrobe. (Versace even recreated a replica gown that Diana wore to a Victor Chang even in Sydney). Throughout the trailer, Watts is seen in a blue business suit, a white suit, a black dress and many other outfits that will probably seem at least somewhat familiar to those who followed Diana's fashion sense along with her political agendas.

Watch 'Diana' Official Trailer:

We see Naomi Watts wearing some subtle prosthetics for the role, particularly around her eyes — but unlike, say, the awful makeup jobs done on Jon Voight for his role as Howard Cosell in "Ali" (2001) or Anthony Hopkins for his role as Richard Nixon in "Nixon" (1995), it isn't distracting (or embarrassingly bad). Really, extensive makeup jobs are never really necessary when an actor is playing a historical figure — it should all come from the performance, and the makers of "Diana" did just enough to give Watts that little extra something without going over-the-top.

Physically, the "21 Grams" star doesn't quite have the presence that Diana did, as the petite Watts stands at 5'5" and her much more athletic real-life counterpart was 5'10". There are some considerable differences vocally as well: Diana had a very young-sounding voice, with a decidedly non-aristocratic tone that made her all the more endearing to everyone as she sounded less like the Princess of Wales and more like your best friend, whereas Watts sounds very authoritarian and, well, proper.

"Diana," directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel ("Downfall," "The Invasion"), chronicles the last two years of Diana's life, focusing on her highly publicized campaign against landmines (which brought her some criticism for being a "loose cannon"), her divorce from Prince Charles in August 1996 and her love affair with surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews), which appears to be the main focus of the film. Diana died in a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997, at the age of 36, a tragedy that has inspired a few conspiracy theories and a re-dedication of Elton John's "Candle in the Wind."

While it has yet to score distribution in the U.S., "Diana" is set for release in the U.K. and other countries abroad in September.

Also Watch 'Diana' Teaser Trailer: