Nearly 25 years after her death, Princess Diana is shown in a new light in Pablo Larraín's Spencer. Played by Kristen Stewart, the film chronicles the end of Diana's royal marriage to Prince Charles. Spencer is said to put Stewart on her way to her first Oscar nomination.
Spencer has been described as “an intoxicating art-house swoon of ghost queens and tumbling pearls, pegged to a central performance all the more remarkable for its real-world nuance.” Written by Steven Knight, it takes place during a Christmas holiday at Sandringham, the Queen’s country estate.
“She's already an icon, so you need to start from that base. And then we go and choose a very precise moment of her life that could define who she was in a very simple way.”
-Pablo Larraín,Spencer Director
“To me, it's a very universal Greek tragedy in its shape and basis, a classic structure. That simple element is what I think we were attracted to.”
Defiantly driving herself alone is the first of many rebellions over three days of forced pageantry.
"If you're backed into a corner and the only way to bare your teeth is to change your clothes or not come to eat... you're going to do things in order to be heard that are very easy to judge,” says Stewart.
And judge, they did. Diana’s lone allies are a devoted dresser (Sally Hawkins), a sympathetic chef (Sean Harris) and her sons William and Harry (Jack Nielen and Freddie Spry) while everyone from chambermaids, pages, guards and Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) watch her every move.
While the film skews less towards a traditional biopic, Spencer is still rooted in Diana’s painful truths, leaning into heavy research and the use of famed dialect coach William Conacher, who also trained Emma Corrin and Naomi Watts for their portrayals of Diana.
“There was something just in absorbing her completely over the last six months leading up to this. I knew that I had hit some kind of elemental energy. If people have a lot to say about it not being a perfect impression, that's so okay with me.”