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Kristen Stewart And The Spencer Director Talk The Princess Diana Moment That Stuck With Them Both Through Filming

Kristen Stewart as Diana in Spencer
(Image credit: Neon)

Kristen Stewart’s latest movie has the actress disappearing into the role of Princess Diana. Spencer, directed by Jackie filmmaker Pablo Larraín, serves as a portrait of what the late royal was going through just prior to her decision to divorce the Prince of Wales in the early ‘90s. As the movie continues to ride the wave of Oscar season, Stewart and Larraín are speaking more in depth about filming the critically-acclaimed drama

While chatting with Deadline about Spencer, the director and Kristen Stewart agreed that they can’t get one subtle sequence in the movie out of their heads. In their words: 

Larrain: I think something that’s striking to me about that is her last words after the car accident. Someone comes to her aid, and she looks at that person and asks, ‘What happened?’

Stewart: And it’s not literal. There’s something about those words where it sounds referential to her whole life.

Larrain: It’s not, ‘What happened in the last 10 minutes?’ It’s ‘What happened?’ It’s a bigger question. And that is the most moving, absurdly painful destiny.

Stewart: Oh god. Even now… it was something that occurred to me so often while we were making the movie, and those fucking words were ringing in my head all the time. To ask that of someone you don’t even know.

In a lot of ways, Spencer acts as a kind of poem for emulating the experience of being Princess Diana, especially in that particular moment in her life. While there are moments one could take more literally, both Pablo Larraín and Kristen Stewart think of this particular sequence as an indirect question being asked about the trajectory in which Princess Diana’s life goes. 

Obviously the late Princess of Wales became a major figure when she married Charles, but when she dealt with mental health issues such as an eating disorder and depression, the reaction by the crown was unhelpful and asked her to put on a big happy face. 

In another sequence, her experience is personified through Kristen Stewart’s Diana nervously eating her soup even though her appetite is nonexistent. The scene turns into Diana swallowing pearls from her necklace that fall into the soup. Feeling suffocated by the expectations of the crown, Diana nervously rushes to the bathroom where she has to purge what she’s just eaten. While I don’t imagine Diana ate any pearls at the dinner table, the sequence is the perfect personification of how uncomfortable the princess may have felt at the time. 

Many audiences have compared Spencer to a horror movie, especially in the way that it cinematically plays as viewers go on the anxious journey with Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana. Kristen Stewart jumped at the opportunity to play the role and completely committed to portraying the late royal. While filming Spencer, Stewart recalled having “spooky, spiritual feelings” because the subject matter felt invasive at times as she sought to bring to light another side of a figure explored in other ways on film.  

Spencer is now available to rent and own. We’ll keep you updated throughout Oscar season regarding the awards buzz for Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana film. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.