Today in ??? News, Kristen Stewart has been tapped to play Princess Diana in an upcoming biopic titled Spencer. KStew is one of my favorite actresses who has, much like Robert Pattinson, used her post-Twilight years to craft an interesting and varied career. Even still, I’m having a little trouble picturing her as Princess Diana. Spencer comes from Pablo Larraín, who made Jackie, but in that case, I had no trouble seeing Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Although Jackie is a non-traditional biopic, so it’s likely Larraín’s approach to Princess Diana will be similarly offbeat. And KStew does have that shy, deer-in-the-headlights thing which is not dissimilar to Diana. I guess it depends a little on what stage of life this biopic finds Diana. I can envision KStew as a younger Diana more easily than as an older, wiser Diana.
It’s an interesting time for a royal biopic, as the British monarchy seems to be falling off the cozy perch they’ve enjoyed since the Queen’s reputation was rehabbed in the early aughts (largely thanks to the hagiography of Stephen Frears and Peter Morgan). It’s especially interesting to reexamine Diana after we’ve seen one royal wife decide just not to bother with the whole (racist) system and chuck it. There is so much more sympathy now for mental health struggles and the pressure put on women, in particular, by the royal institution than existed when Diana was going through it 30 years ago. In Jackie, Larraín excavated a Jacqueline Kennedy fresh in her grief and paranoid of press invasion and the expectations of being the quintessential “American wife”. It will be interesting to see how he frames Princess Diana and which elements of her story he draws out. It will be especially interesting to see how Kristen Stewart plays it.