When Diana, Princess Of Wales, died in a car crash in 1997, it seemed like the entire world mourned. Though Diana had divorced her husband, future King Of England Prince Charles, a few years earlier, she’d remained in the public eye, whether by her own volition or not.
In recent years, several projects have taken a look at Diana’s life, including the most recent season of The Crown. The latest is Pablo Larrain’s Spencer, which stars Kristen Stewart as the Princess formerly known as Lady Diana Spencer. In the movie, Stewart’s Diana is on the cusp of announcing her separation and feels trapped by the royal family’s traditional ways.
Stewart has been lauded for her performance as Diana, with some even making her an early contender for an Oscar nomination. When we talked to Stewart and Larrain for the video above, though, it was clear that Stewart went into the project not because of awards potential, but because of what became a voracious interest in the film’s subject.
“Before we made this movie,” says Stewart, “I didn’t have a very involved perception of her. I knew that she was somebody who was loved and that we lost too soon, and then in going through her life and the way other people experienced her and what I could glean from videos and pictures and things that she said herself... it is cryptic and there are so many layers to trying to interpret what her inner life may have been because it’s not like she had journals to read. “
Calling Diana an “ironically unknowable person,” Stewart says she thinks the late royal’s legacy endures not just because of the popularity of her children Harry and William, but also because “there is multiplicity in the way that we talk about her in art. She does not go away. She’s just on our cultural psyche, and is very, very much present in that.”
Stewart also told us that she viewed Diana as “a very human subject,” but that she also thinks she was “a wonderful person” with “an unbelievable empathy... that is rare.”
There’s more from Stewart and Larrain in the video above. If you’d like to read about our critics’ first look at Spencer during the Venice Film Festival, you can do that right here.