TORONTO – Kristen Stewart says she doesn’t presume to possess special insight into the reality of the late Princess of Wales after portraying her in the surreal royal drama “Spencer.”
Rather, Stewart says she sees the role of Diana as part of a body of art that seeks to bring people closer to the larger-than-life figure.
Billed as “a fable from a true tragedy,” “Spencer” conjures the private turmoil of the so-called “People’s Princess” as she endures a tense Christmas holiday with the Royal Family.
Appearing remotely for a live talk at the hybrid Toronto International Film Festival, Stewart says she hopes “Spencer” doesn’t contribute to the public invasion of privacy that has plagued Diana’s life and legacy.
The actor says the film doesn’t present new biographical details or “profess to know anything” about the royal icon, who died at age 36 in Paris on Aug. 31, 1997.
Stewart says the project instead seeks to honour Diana’s preternatural power to foster human connection.
“I’ve been asked a lot about whether or not it’s cool to try to tell someone’s story when they’re not around,” Stewart said at a TIFF digital talk Wednesday before the film’s premiere.
“We can imagine and dream and write poetry about how she makes us feel, and (try) to get closer to her and how she felt. I think that she provides this incredibly lush and complicated terrain to make art about.”
To get into character, Stewart said she wrestled with the personal contradictions that fuel the ongoing public fascination with the Princess of Wales.
She simultaneously embodied supreme strength and vulnerability, indulgence and depravation, media savvy and guileless candour, said Stewart.
“She can’t hide anything, and yet we don’t know anything about her,” she said. “She’s somebody that you really lean in towards. And that’s something she was talented at, born with.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2021.