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The Crown’s season 4 has had some amazing additions to its cast. We are talking about one in particular - Emma Corrin. But the actress doesn’t just look like Princess Diana, her speech and mannerisms were eerily similar too. Find out how she got the part and what she’d do if she actually met Prince William and Harry.
Princess Diana is the most popular member of the Royal family among filmmakers. We doubt that there’s even one actress who wouldn’t dream to play her. And few lucky ones even got their chance to make that dream a reality!
In 1993, Serena Scott Thomas played Diana in the TV film, Diana: Her True Story. Three years later, Julie Cox portrayed her in Princess in Love, a movie about the Princess’ relationship with the polo player, Captain James Hewitt. 2007 saw Genevieve O'Reilly in a docudrama which dived into the final period of Diana’s life.
In 2013, Oscar nominee Naomi Watts turned into the People’s Princess. In 2021, Netflix again, is set to release an on-screen version of the musical stage show, Diana with Jeanna de Waal playing her. And in 2022, we’ll watch Kristen Stewart portray the Princess realizing she wants to separate from Prince Charles in a drama with the eloquent title, Spencer.
In between the past and the future, we are very happy to welcome our present-time Lady Di - Emma Corrin! The 24-year-old British actress has just blown everyone’s minds playing the icon in the 4th season of the Netflix hit, The Crown. Despite the importance of her character, we had barely heard anything about the actress who was about to portray the beloved Princess Diana. So, who is she?
Like her heroine, teen Emma Corrin attended a posh, all-girls boarding school, where she got into dancing and acting. Later, she was studying drama here and there and her first audition for Lady Di happened while she was still in school! By that time, she’d had just a few on-screen appearances.
You might recognize the actress as Miss South Africa in Misbehaviour or as the girlfriend of a young Batman’s butler-to-be in Pennyworth. But that was the extent to Corrin’s fame. And then some kind of magic happened. Benjamin Caron, the director and executive producer of The Crown, said Emma’s audition was notorious!
During the audition, another director of the show - Jessica Hobbs - remembers the young actress was asked to sing a song from the Phantom of the Opera. Corrin wasn’t deterred by it. Without hesitation she was like “Okay!” and sang it acapella, in a room full of people. Woah!
The vulnerability and the blush on Corrin’s cheeks struck Hobbs and she thought, “She can do this.” When Corrin did a ‘chemistry read’ with Josh O’Connor, who played young Charles, everybody around them felt the chemistry. After another read, Caron kneeled and asked Corrin, "Will you be our Diana?" Corrin confessed, "It was so intense!"
O’Connor confirmed that the whole process of finding Diana was dramatic, comparing it to the climactic moments of X-Factor. Everybody witnessed how Emma Corrin froze when she realised, she was selected to play the part of the late Princess. She started to cry, then Caron did too and O'Connor gave her a big hug.
On her way back, Corrin played the theme music from The Crown in her car to appreciate the significance of the moment fully. When she arrived home, she managed to keep the news a secret for like 15 seconds. It was surreal! The inexperienced actress couldn’t even imagine acting alongside Olivia Colman and Gillian Anderson.
Caron noticed that, at that point, Corrin was going through a similar experience that Diana had gone through. Both were suddenly thrust into the public eye, in a role that everyone had had their eyes on, getting in the newspapers and being papped.
He added: Anything you feel about it, be it fear or excitement or nervousness, be aware of it because that’s exactly how she would have been feeling.
Corrin believes that she actually looks more like a young Jodie Foster, rather than Diana. Corrin’s mother though, has often been mistaken for the latter. Guess Corrin’s genes, combined with outstanding work from the stylists, did the job. According to Olivia Colman, when Corrin first appeared in "Diana’s" wig, it freaked everyone out! That’s how much she looked like her.
"She looked the spitting image [of Diana], and it’s kind of extraordinary and kind of spooky," Josh O’Connor told Harper’s Bazaar. It was also about the speech and the moves, which Corrin mastered with the help of coaches. She grasped the smile and the look, the nod to the side.
She also mastered the slight slouch of Lady Di who was as tall as her husband. The actress also lowered her intonations at the end of each phrase like the Princess did, which made her sound very sweet, sincere, and a bit sad at the same time. She even figured out how to say the phrase “alright,” like Diana.
Though Diana’s known for her impeccable fashion sense, in The Crown, she didn’t appear as a global fashion icon right away. Corrin found it hilarious that - after the hype of her joining the cast - she’d be dressed as a tree the first time she appears in the season. She complained that the yellow dungarees almost made her cry!
The actress seems to be quite a fashionista herself, so it may have actually been quite a painful experience for her! But the deeper they got into the season, the more dazzling the outfits got! Corrin even sneaked out one of the gold chains from the set in the end.
She was lucky enough to wear vintage and specially-made clothes: from whimsical sweaters and standout collars to the ‘Australian’ all-occasion outfits; from the blue suit ‘announcing’ their engagement to the statement black ‘Christmas’ dress; from the red ‘opera’ gown to the baby blue ‘dancing’ one, then to 80’s wide-shouldered suits and more.
But the biggest highlight - the culmination of Diana’s wardrobe - was the wedding dress. It took 600 hours and about 10 people to create it. The Emanuels, who designed the original dress for the Princess, consulted the show and gave the base for a further transformation specifically for Corrin.
While the 25-foot train and 153-yard veil were still being made, Corrin rehearsed with a long tail of bedsheets sewn together. The finished gown was so massive it took several people to put it on! When Corrin finally changed and walked through the huge oak doors to the crew, everyone fell silent.
And she burst into tears. The moment was very touching and almost sacred as if she had embodied Diana’s very spirit. Corrin felt like she was really about to get married when she put the dress on. She even felt moved to facetime her mom so that she wouldn’t miss the wedding! Who wouldn’t in her place?!
The young actress initially felt daunted by the role of such a massive historical figure. She told The Graham Norton Show that she went into it with a huge sense of pressure “because [Diana] was so adored and because there is this sense from everyone almost of ownership, like they knew her."
But after realizing she would be working with the scriptwriter’s vision of events, Corrin recentred herself. This is their version of Diana, the actress summed up. Being a huge fan of Diana's for years, she got in touch with her character pretty quickly. She even has a Cockapoo named Spencer!
The actress did a thorough research to prepare for the role. She studied documentaries made on the Princess and even met with Diana's private secretary, Patrick Jephson. In the end, Corrin felt like she was close friends with the Princess! And each of the cast members took care of the newbie, especially her closest co-star - Josh O’Connor.
They became really good friends and hung out on and off set! Colman too, was nice and fun, and had a lovely maternal energy. “The Queen’s meant to be completely the opposite,” Corrin observed. “But honestly, at the flick of a switch [Colman] was in character. I was absolutely terrified. No acting required.”
Corrin was the one who insisted on showing Diana’s struggle with an eating issue more prominently in the scripts. She noticed that the Princess spoke candidly about it, which was incredibly ahead of its time. And the actress wanted to do her and the condition justice.
Speaking of health issues, Corrin actually had to be hospitalized after shooting one of the hardest scenes in Spain. Corrin had to film in a freezing-cold swimming pool with a little “Harry” who couldn’t swim! After that, the doctors wouldn't allow her to leave the hospital because of her low oxygen levels.
But how did the crew keep the shooting a secret? The attending nurses offered Corrin - in broken English - a cardboard bag to cover her head so no one would recognize that she was ‘Princess Diana’. The young star really did her best to proudly portray her idol. But did others like it?
According to Josh O'Connor who played her on-screen husband, Corrin did a brilliant job, and it was breathtakingly accurate. Director Ben Caron marked that her genuine empathy for Diana helped her understand the Princess as a person, and that shows in her performance.
Critics too were amazed by the striking similarity between the actress and her Royal counterpart. Evening Standard admitted her appearance in the series was “a gorgeous breakout turn.” The Times stated that her performance blossomed and bloomed and pretty soon she was a tour de force as Diana, and that she helped to make The Crown an excellent series.
But who wasn’t very pleased about the series? The living members of the Royal Family. They, and even the members of Parliament, are upset by the portrayal of Diana and Prince Charles’ romance and marriage. Specifically pointing out the gratuitous addition of Camilla Parker Bowles for the portrayal of the Royal couple’s marriage.
Charles’ friends blamed the producers for “trolling on a Hollywood budget,” exploiting the Royal Family’s pain for financial gain and twisting the events. Emma Corrin responded to the backlash, saying that everyone in The Crown always reminds viewers that the series is fictionalized, though it has its roots in reality and in some fact.
Nevertheless, Corrin understands the retaliation. “Because this is history and even with Diana, you know, it’s still very much fresh, I suppose, everything that happened," Corrin confessed to GQ that she can’t imagine what Prince William and Harry would make of the show. She said, if someone made a show about her late grandmother, it’d be difficult for her too.
Corrin’s curiosity about what Diana’s sons think of her portrayal as Diana doesn’t extend to materialization. "If I ever saw them at a party, I’d probably leave!" Earlier, the author of Harry’s biography said the first thing the Prince asked was if she’s watching The Crown, adding, “I’m going to make sure I stop it before they get to me."
Let’s hope the show's executives will take the Prince’s strong word into account and finish all they’ve been up to before he acts upon that! What about Emma Corrin? Her work in the final two seasons of The Crown will be picked up by Australian actress, Elizabeth Debicki, who resembles Diana even more!
The star of Tenet and The Great Gatsby was cast to portray the Princess of Wales from her separation from Charles up to her tragic death. Corrin admits that parting with The Crown felt like her ex was moving on and that sadly she’ll really miss playing her magnificent character.
Now she’s got other things on her plate though, like dealing with sudden fame and “the fact that people will know you without knowing you at all.” Guess this is what comes with bringing the royal icon to life! What do you think of Corrin’s Diana? Would you too run from the Princes at a party after playing their mom?
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