Playing Princess Diana was Kristen Stewart’s fairy tale
To write the screenplay, Knight spoke to former staff – “people who served and watched” – at the Queen’s Estate in Norfolk, which spans 20,000 acres. Although Knight refuses to discuss the details of these conversations, he insists that even the most bizarre elements of his script are steeped in fact. At the entrance to Sandringham at Christmas, for example, in a detail incorporated into the film, queen elizabeth insists that each visitor be weighed on antique scales – their weight noted and compared to their weight when leaving. (The rationale, since Victoria’s day, being that a guest was only having fun if they earned at least three pounds.)
Knight was dismayed to learn that Diana was subjected to such a tradition as her bulimia was known (but never discussed) within the palace walls. âImagine Diana in her situation – and the fact that everything [during that weekend] is based on food, what you wear and how you look. It’s all about what’s in the mirror, not what’s really there.
Diana’s actual visits to Sandringham were even more emotional given that her family lived on the same estate, at the rented Park House, when she was born. By the time Diana married into the royal family, however, Park House had fallen into disrepair – a relic of her barricaded past still standing on royal lands. In Spencer, Diana is torn between the royals and their manipulative guardians, who want her to subordinate herself and shut up, and the authentic self she lost long ago, strangely lingering like a ghost in the distance.
âI wanted the movie to have a horror element because the original fairy tales are really pretty horrific,â says Knight. âAnd I wanted her to feel trapped. That she felt that she was being played. That she felt she was all of those things.
It was a scary emotional place for Stewart to parachute. But the actor felt safe and free to do so alongside LarraÃn.
âI always felt like I could just struggle and pounce on him and be like, you have to deal with all of my questions and emotions, and I know you can,â Stewart says, noting that he’s rare that she feels so free. on a film set. âI often have relationships with directors [where] I protect them in a way [from my emotions]. In this case, I felt like we were supporting and protecting each other, but also felt so free to communicate very fresh, new, spontaneous and impulsive ideasâ¦ The only way to do something that be unruly and alive and kind of his own animal is to have the confidence and comfort in the chaos to do soâ¦. I never felt the need not to shake his psyche by offering him another idea.
Joining Zoom from his office, LarraÃn agrees his working relationship with Stewart was special.
âIt has become such a unique and singular union. It looks nice. This does not happen very often, âexplains the filmmaker, who has personally shot some Spencerthe most moving scenes. “When you see the movie, you can see that it was kind of an intimate collaboration.”