Kristen Stewart on why playing Princess Diana made her “nervous”
Kristen Stewart has spoken out about her fears over playing Princess Diana in new movie Spencer, revealing that she was so anxious about taking on the role that she "couldn't open" her mouth "for two weeks before we started shooting".
The drama sees Stewart play Diana over several days during December 1991, when she spent Christmas with the Royal Family at Sandringham Estate. With her marriage to Prince Charles (played by Jack Farthing) beginning to falter, Diana has some big decisions to make during her stay with the family. And Stewart was under a similar pressure taking on such an iconic role.
"I had TMJ (temporomandibular disorder, meaning that her jaw stayed shut) to the point where I was like, completely locked up," the actress told BBC News. "I was like, 'Huh, I guess I'm really nervous – I was really tripping out until we started."
To help her combat her nerves, Stewart undertook extensive research into Diana's life, revealing that she absorbed as much of her real character as she could.
"I read everything, I wanted every photo... watched all the interviews that I could get my hands on," she said. "I watched The Crown, I watched every iteration of interpretation. I just tried to absorb her in an emotional and general way, and then trust the process, and expect her to show up."
The actress, who has also starred in the Twilight saga and Charlie's Angels, added that she did her very best to do justice to Diana, saying that she wanted to "allow her to be impulsive".
"Anything I watched her in, whether it was an interview, or even in a still photograph, it always feels unpredictable," she said. "Like you don't know what's going to happen. And it's because she has this vulnerability and this raw emotion that she cannot conceal.
"There's no way to do a perfect impression of that. You have to feel it, and it has to be yours. So I think I just had to relax."
Stewart added that playing Diana led her to feel protective of the real-life figure, explaining: "I had to just not focus on other people's idea of her, and really focus on my own. And that in itself was just so distinct and specific to me."
She added: "I felt such love for her and still do... I wish I could ask her if she thinks I'm doing a good job."
Spencer, which is directed by Jackie director Pablo Larraín, has already attracted rave reviews after its first critical screenings, with Stewart's performance described as "powerhouse" and "incandescent".
Spencer is scheduled for theatrical release in the UK and the US on November 5, 2021.
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