Jessica Chastain Playing Princess Diana In Caught In Flight
Jessica Chastain has had the kind of year that sets up an actor for life. Since May of this year she has appeared in six films in theatrical release, from her ethereal role as the mother in Tree of Life to her bubbly, white trash Celia Foote in The Help, to a haunted Mossad agent in The Debt to going full-on Shakespeare in Coriolanus, out later this year. In a matter of months she went from total unknown to absolutely everywhere, and like any smart woman would do, she's taking that momentum and running with it. She's already in production with a starring role in the Guillermo del Toro-produced horror film Mama, then she'll join Tom Cruise in the much bigger sci-fi project Horizons, from Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski.
And after that, she may have a chance to move away from genre films into the ultimate actor catnip: a biopic. Thompson on Hollywood reports from the American Film Martket that Chastain is set to star in Caught in Flight, a biopic about Princess Diana and an affair she carried on with a heart surgeon, Dr. Hasnat Kahn. This happened in 1995, after her divorce from Prince Charles but not long before her death in 1997. Oliver Hirschbiegel, the German director behind the very good Downfall and the very bad The Invasion, is set to direct the script, which paints Kahn as the love of the princess's life, a man she was so passionate about she considered converting to Islam.
At the same time, this won't be any hagiography of the princess, so you can't expect Prince William and Kate to show up at the premiere. Apparently the script depicts Diana as "a damaged person who stalks the doctor after he ends the affair." It's also unclear how this fits in with the timeline of Diana's relationship with Dodi Fayed, whom she was with when she died. That said, Downfall proved how interesting a movie can be even with a historical figure you think you know everything about-- that film covered the last days of Hitler's life with a surprising amount of insight that never turned into actual sympathy.
You can argue that Chastain doesn't look a whole lot like Diana, or maybe that a British actress ought to play the part. But the astonishing diversity of the roles she's played this year suggests that she's capable of pretty much anything, even tackling a role this tricky and iconic. There's plenty of reason to have faith in this one.
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