VENICE, Italy — One of the most hotly anticipated films of the 2021 Venice Film Festival is Spencer, filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s (Jackie) dramatization of three days in the life of the late Princess Diana—from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day 1990.
And on Friday afternoon, hours after the movie first screened for critics, star Kristen Stewart opened up about her stunning transformation into Diana, one that is sure to attract plenty of awards attention. “We found this miracle here, named Kristen, that can carry that mystery,” said Larraín.
As for Stewart, she saw it as a daunting task to embody such a global icon. When asked what she felt made Diana such a singular presence, she replied, “I think it’s just something she was born with. There are some people that are endowed with an undeniable, just penetrating energy. The really sad thing about her is she, as normal and sort of casual and disarming her air is immediately, she also felt so isolated and so lonely,” said Stewart. “She made everyone else feel accompanied and bolstered by this beautiful sort of light, and all she wanted was to have it back. We’re all mirrors of each other—what you give is what you get—and I think she was just desperate to reveal some truth in an environment that is steeped in the energy of, you know, as an outsider, I can say that the Brits generally have this stiff-upper-lip mentality.”
She added, “The idea of somebody being so desperate for connection—and somebody who’s able to make other people feel so good, feeling so bad on the inside, and being so generous with her energy—I just think we haven’t had many of those people throughout history. She really sticks out as a sparkly house on fire.”
Stewart, who is 31—two years older than Diana is in the film—knows a thing or two about being under the microscope, though was quick to dismiss any comparisons between her experience and Diana’s.
“This is a tough one, because… she was the most famous woman in the world—she was the most photographed woman in the entire world, right? That’s something that’s said about her. I have tasted a high level of that, but nowhere near this monumental, symbolic representation of an entire country, and of the world. So, my experience with just sort of feeling sometimes like you don’t have control over a situation—or when I say ‘situation,’ an impression of you—that’s life. That’s normal. You can’t control everyone’s opinions of you.”
“But when you know that the story on the street is just wrong and there’s no way to correct it,” she continued, “the idea that maybe you had five minutes where somebody thought that you hadn’t connected with them and they got this bad impression, I’ve wanted to run back a million times, every day, and be like, ‘Wait—could we redo that interview? I thought about something else for a second and didn’t say the right thing.’ Imagine what that was like for her? Imagine feeling backed into a corner to that extent? At some point, you’re going to bare your teeth.”
“I don’t feel an extreme imposed rigidity,” she later explained. “That was something that I had to think about as an outsider… because I’m allowed to make mistakes. There’s such a huge, vast difference between the job of an actor, and someone within the royal family. [You’re] keeping together an ideal that’s supposed to keep an entire nation together. I don’t consider my job as lofty, and if I did, I would be puking backstage.”