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Kristen Stewart tells how she immersed herself in the princess for new movie Spencer

The film cryptically announces itself as ‘a fable from a true tragedy’. On a clear winter’s day in 1991, Princess Diana – with her motley limbs, thick blond hair and those unforgettable big blue eyes – drives her small convertible sports car through the Norfolk countryside to the Royal Family Christmas gathering in Sandringham.

Unfortunately, and not a bit symbolically, she found herself lost along the way. After fruitlessly consulting a map, she stops at a garage to ask the obviously non-royal people there for help.

“Sorry,” she says. ‘I’m looking somewhere. I have absolutely no idea where I am.’

And in that direct plea for human connection, Kristen Stewart, whose portrayal of the late, beloved princess in Pablo Larraín’s upcoming film Spencer is already generating an Oscar buzz, says in a nutshell the power of Diana’s appeal.

Kristen Stewart, 31, (pictured) stars as Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín's imaginary account of a three-day Christmas break in Sandringham in new Spencer film

Kristen Stewart, 31, (pictured) stars as Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín’s imaginary account of a three-day Christmas break in Sandringham in new Spencer film

Kristen said she became 'obsessed' with watching The Crown to immerse herself in Princess Diana's identity (pictured, in 1989)

Kristen said she became 'obsessed' with watching The Crown to immerse herself in Princess Diana's identity (pictured, in 1989)

Kristen said she became ‘obsessed’ with watching The Crown to immerse herself in Princess Diana’s identity (pictured, in 1989)

“She was touchable,” Kristen says. “I think even when she was looking her most beautiful and substantial, she also felt like she could kick off her shoes and walk out with you and ask you how you were and touch your face. And you would feel that honesty from her.

“But ironically, she was also the most unknowable person, and at least for the three days we envision in the film, she was the most isolated human imaginable.”

The film does not pretend to be a historical report, but an imaginary account of a three-day Christmas vacation in Sandringham in which Diana finally accepts that her ten-year marriage to Charles has become untenable.

It’s a compelling mix of Crown-style royal drama, a touch of menace (for example, who left a biography of another rejected royal, the decapitated Anne Boleyn, in Diana’s bedroom?), and moments of pure surrealism. as Diana’s terror and suffocation in the increasingly hostile environment of the royal family threaten to engulf her.

“But it doesn’t go into any lustful details,” says Kristen, 31.

‘It’s really just a performance of a period of three days when it all became very difficult for her. It’s more about her internal experience than anything else.’

Kristen (pictured) said her favorite scenes to shoot involved Diana losing herself in dancing

Kristen (pictured) said her favorite scenes to shoot involved Diana losing herself in dancing

Kristen (pictured) said her favorite scenes to shoot involved Diana losing herself in dancing

For Chilean native Pablo Larraín, best known before this film for Jackie, the story of another iconic woman, Jacqueline Kennedy, the decision to place Spencer over such a short period of time was a conscious one.

“I find it interesting, the story you can tell, when you look at someone at a very specific moment in a crisis rather than going over a longer period of their life,” he says. ‘Then you can get to know that person very well. And this was quite a crisis that Diana was in.

Hers was a fairy tale that captured the imagination of billions of people around the world, a woman chosen by a prince who would eventually become a queen and live happily ever after. I think part of growing up is realizing that life isn’t like that. What we have instead is a princess who distances herself from the idea of ​​being a queen because she realizes she wants to be herself.

‘And it’s nice to see that in a compressed amount of time and in a single space, in this castle really, even if they just call Sandringham a home in England. When you see Diana there, you have a character trapped in tradition and history.

“She starts out broken, becomes almost a ghost for a while, and then she’s back and healed and ready to move on.”

A dancing Diana… and all that jazz

While the film is undeniably intense, in one montage we see Diana lose herself in dancing, and Kristen says those scenes were her favorites to film.

“I enjoyed my physicality making this film more than I’ve ever enjoyed anything – I felt freer and more alive and able to move. I even felt taller!

“The best days on set for me were when we would record a small part of the dance montage. The only plan was to choose the look, the room and the songs, including Talking Heads, Miles Davis and Lou Reed. Then it was just about inhabiting the space and taking your whole impression of Diana – from everything you’ve ever learned about her – and shifting it in one moment and letting it get physical. And if that’s not jazz, then I don’t know what is.’

While Kristen Stewart — an LA native who became famous for playing high school student Bella Swan in the hit Twilight Saga film series — is American down to the last detail, her encapsulation of Diana, from the cut glass clinker to the signature tilt of the head , is spooky.

Still, she admits her reaction was one of disbelief when she was first offered the part. “When I first spoke to Pablo, he hadn’t written the script,” she recalls.

He just said, ‘Have you ever thought about this person? I’m going to make a movie and I think it’s you.’ And I thought, ‘I think you’re crazy.’

When she actually applied for the role, the disbelief had turned to terror.

“I thought, ‘Oh, damn, this is a big problem – I don’t want to mess it up!’ she smiles. “But I think the only thing that relieves that tension is that I can only do my best. Moreover, there is not one way to do this.

“If you read all the memoirs about Diana, you see that everyone thinks differently about her. Every photographer sees her in a different light, and she herself felt different every day. So there is no way to do it right or wrong.’

To immerse herself in Diana’s identity, she became “obsessed” with watching The Crown – “it’s so brilliant!” – and watched interviews with the princess as she fell asleep at night.

“I just wanted her voice in my head so I never feel like I’m just impressing her. The people you know best in your life – the ones you instantly catch in their voices when you tell stories about them – I wanted that feeling.

“I wanted to surround her and jump into her skin—not just feel like I’m putting on a costume or a wig, but really being in her shoes.”

She also took a crash course in British etiquette.

“We had royal advisers who told us all the things you couldn’t know as an outsider. I’ve learned to bow – I’ve learned not to go low at all or you’ll fall over – and I’ve learned, for example, that you can’t go into the kitchen to steal food, someone has to bring it to you.

“There was always someone around to make sure nothing was wrong, that we stayed authentic and didn’t undermine what we were trying to do. I think we did a good job, although I must confess that my curtsy went out the window as soon as I left the set!’

Kristen said Princess Diana was the most loved person in the world and at the same time the most rejected.  Pictured: The Royal Family at Sandringham in the movie

Kristen said Princess Diana was the most loved person in the world and at the same time the most rejected.  Pictured: The Royal Family at Sandringham in the movie

Kristen said Princess Diana was the most loved person in the world and at the same time the most rejected. Pictured: The Royal Family at Sandringham in the movie

Another thing she learned was how trapped the princess must have felt in her gilded cage.

“Judging from where I stand, she had so little control over her life—all was this negotiation. The highs and lows were equally extreme, she was the most loved person in the world and at the same time the most rejected.

“I think what’s really sad about her is that, as normal and disarming as she was, she also felt so isolated and lonely. As an outsider I can say that Brits in general have a stiff upper lip mentality but with Diana I look at pictures of her, even a cursory movie, and I feel like the ground is shaking and you don’t know what’s going to happen to happen.

“She really pops like a sparkly force, just a house on fire. There are people who are endowed with an undeniable penetrating energy, and she was one of them.

She could exercise her power like a banshee

“She made everyone feel supported by this beautiful kind of light in them, but the fact is we’re all mirrors of each other, what you give is what you get and all she wanted was just to have it back.” She couldn’t really define her own power, but she certainly felt it.

“She waved it like a banshee sometimes. Some of the employees have said, ‘She broke me down’, but at times she seemed so normal and small.

“It was only with her children that she had real security, and there it was just the most certain ever. Pablo could really help me with that, because he’s a father himself, and he could make sure that little core in the film was rock solid.’

All in all, Kristen says she left the experience with a greater appreciation for the challenges faced by all members of the royal family.

“I think you find that in every aspect of life there are things you need to do. Then you grow up and realize that you don’t have to do all those things, and you get to choose who you are.

“I realized I don’t feel the rigidity imposed on Diana because I’m allowed to make mistakes, and that’s the big difference between an actor’s job and someone in the royal family. They hold together an ideal that is supposed to hold an entire nation together.’

She also came away with a deep admiration for Diana’s courage to end the marriage.

“One of my friends recently went through a terrible breakup, and I made this movie and I looked at her and said, ‘Dude, you can just choose what you want to do, you’re not on a predestined path. Sometimes your life can feel like it’s happening to you instead of being in control, but in reality you can just take control.”

“It’s hard to make choices like that, though, and it’s scary, so it takes balls. But it is possible.’

As Diana herself proved.

Spencer hits theaters on Friday, November 5.

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