What did you say to [director] Pablo Larrain when he first asked you to play Princess Diana in Spencer?
Umm..not No. [laughs] I didn’t have the most developed relationship with her story. I’ve always admired her from afar, but really from an amorphous, unarticulated place. I love Pablo’s work and he was so positive about it. When he described the prospective three days that we were going to examine and kind of fall into, I thought it was a cool way of approaching the thing. Considering she’s an extremely famous person and people think they know a lot about her, it’s so interesting to examine the moments in between, where she’s alone, even though it’s obviously a total work of fiction. I think that’s why we make movies.
What was it like when you knew you’d got Diana’s voice?
I consider my ear to be kind of attuned to things, but I had to completely trust my coach. When we first started on day one, I was like, We can’t work anymore…am I ready? Does it sound good to you? And he was like, Absolutely. It got better as we shot, so I know he was just saying that to give me confidence. There was really not much more he could do. He wasn’t going to be like, Actually, you’re not there.
What was your favorite outfit?
The Chanel couture dress on the bathroom floor, definitely. The one that’s on the poster.
Her walk was so specific and you did it brilliantly. How did you get that?
Thanks, but if you put it side-by-side I don’t think they are exactly the same at all. There is a kind of projection that happens with the audience. You have a few things right and then everyone fills in the blanks for you. She was a little bit lighter than me, taller, a little bit more linear…I wish I had a more interesting answer…I just looked at a lot of pictures.
Did you get the curtsy right away? It’s very subtle.
It’s tiny! People do too much and then fall over. It’s just a tiny head tilt and one foot. It’s harder for women—obviously, only women do it—but women who wear heels, that’s harder. I can do it though [laughs] I’ve got balance!
What were the most challenging scenes for you?
The stuff I couldn’t get ready for, which would be the stuff with the kids, because they are just unruly little animal people [laughs]. The whole thing between all of us needed to be even more real than what I could prescribe while faking it. So yeah, the scenes with the candlelight and we’re playing the game at night, and the dancing stuff. The kids are ad-libbing the whole time. We’re just playing a game and it’s really hard to ad-lib in the accent. With a movie like this, to a certain extent, you get there and you let it grow and you kind of let it find itself. But those two things were the only sort of unknowns, which is the most fun. But scary.
Editor’s Note: This Q&A was conducted by Lucy Allen of The Interview People.