• Festivals

Kristen Stewart on “Spencer”

Kristen Stewart had a lesson in royalty in order to tackle the iconic role of Princess Diana in the movie Spencer, which received its world premiere at the 78th Venice Film Festival.

“We had royal advisors,” explained the Seberg actress at the movie’s official press conference on the Lido. “We had people to tell us all the things that you wouldn’t know about as an outsider. I learned to curtsy and I learned that we are not supposed to go into the kitchen ourselves and steal food. There was always someone around to make sure we were remaining authentic and we weren’t undermining what we were trying to do with the film… But specifically, I would say that the only thing I can really remember is the curtsy. And you don’t do it very low at all, or else you will fall over.”


Thankfully, there were no tumbles for the actress when she walked the premiere’s red carpet alongside Spencer’s Golden Globe-nominated director Pablo Larraín. The waiting photographers clamored for the actress’ attention in scenes that were reminiscent of the flashbulbs that followed the movie’s titular character around the world. However, Stewart is insistent that her level of fame pales in comparison to Diana Spencer.

“She was the most photographed woman in the world,” Stewart remarked to festival press. “I have tasted a high level of that [fame], but nowhere near that monumental, symbolic representation from an entire group of people in an entire country and the world. My experience [involves] feeling like you don’t have control over a situation or someone’s impression of you. That’s life. That’s normal. Everyone experiences that. You can’t control everyone’s opinions of you, but [it’s tough] when the story on the street is plain wrong and there’s no way to correct it. Imagine what that was like for her? Imagine feeling backed into a corner to that extent? At some point, you are going to bare your teeth because you are an animal – and it’s natural and it’s normal.”


Stewart was thoughtful and sincere in her responses. “Everyone feels like they know her because that is her talent. What is beautiful about her is that she is accessible and you feel like you are friends with her, or you feel like she is your mother. But ironically, she was the most unknowable person and somebody who really never wanted to be alone. Some people are good at it. Some people hate it. She wanted the connection.” 

Since the tragic passing of Diana Spencer in 1997, there have been a number of notable portrayals of the princess in movies and on television. Most recently, Emma Corrin won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama TV Series for The Crown in a role that has now been passed on to Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki for the fifth season of the Netflix series. Back in 2013, Naomi Watts played the princess in the biographical drama, Diana.

The story of Spencer follows three days in the life of Princess Diana – but the movie’s distributor, Neon, describes the project as a fable rather than a biopic. In the film, the year is 1991 and it’s Christmas at Sandringham House in Norfolk where a distracted Diana is in the midst of making her decision to end her unhappy marriage to Prince Charles.

“[Diana] wanted people in her life and she was the most isolated human – at least over the imagining of these three days,” said Stewart. “We wanted that to come to a head, so of course I can relate to that – but it’s tough. I don’t think anyone can understand what that felt like for Diana. I mean, we all dreamed and imagined – but I think the ironic part and the saddest part of the story is that we will never know her and that’s all she wanted: to tell the story herself.”