Now this is how you handle casting drama
Remember when it was reported that Jessica Chastain would be playing Princess Diana in that movie, Caught in Flight, the one about the last couple years of Diana’s life? Click here for more. Well, yesterday it was announced that Caught in Flight will star not Chastain, but Naomi Watts.
What the what?
Chastain has spoken publicly about this role, about being excited for it, and the weight of portraying one of the most famous women in history. But somewhere along the line, she quietly backed out and Watts signed on. We’ve seen a lot of casting drama lately—Taylor Swift and Blake Lively immediately come to mind—so here is a positive example to compare and contrast. No drama, no hysterics, no competing headlines. Just a press release that emphasizes how excited the producers are to be working with Watts, and no mention of the actress who previously filled the role. It’s by far the classiest option and the most professional way of handling the situation. Clearly, everyone was on the same page before they announced this and was prepared.
So what happened to Chastain? Not entirely sure, but given the lack of fanfare, it’s probably an actual scheduling conflict. Caught in Flight is scheduled to film later this year and Chastain is also committed to Kathryn Bigelow’s bin Laden project. Could be a simple case of having to choose, which when you’re as busy as Chastain, is going to happen now and then. And Chastain really is busy. SO busy. She’s everywhere. After six films in 2011, she’s slated to have five more this year (although one is a Terrence Malick film, so it could be 2027 before we see it). She’s become ubiquitous. Chastain has the hot hand right now, but the risk of overexposure is strong. And a drawback?
I thought Chastain would make a good Princess Diana, but I also like the idea of Watts in the role. She’s just as talented as Chastain, so there’s no loss of ability between them. And, as an English-born Aussie, Watts is culturally a little closer to Diana than Chastain was. I don’t think that’s that big of a deal, but it’s a consideration. When combined with tight scheduling and the possibility that everyone will be sick of your leading lady by the time you’re going into the theaters, culture clash can start to look like one more thing you don’t want to be dealing with.
And for Watts this solves her biopic problem, the one that’s been hanging over her head as the Marilyn Monroe movie Blonde, in which Watts is supposed to star, continues to not materialize. At this point, with Michelle Williams having done such a fantastic job of Marilyn, and Marilyn in all of the places these days, Watts would just be following where others are already treading. With Caught in Flight scheduled and ready to go, it gives her a chance to not follow the Marilyn trend and instead lead the Princess Diana trend. Career-wise, the Princess serves her better than the Showgirl (do you see what did there?!).
Now that Chastain is out and we’ll be seeing Naomi Watts as Princess Diana, are you more or less likely to see this movie? That’s the real test of whether or not this move was worth it.
Attached - Naomi Watts shooting The Grandmothers with Robin Wright in Sydney this week.