Diana lived her life in front of the cameras.
The late Princess of Wales was easily one of the most visible figures of the 20th century, so it seems fitting that the first poster for Diana, starring Naomi Watts, accentuates the dichotomy of her strange public/private life in one image. The shot of Diana in the Tiffany blue swimsuit sitting at the edge of that diving board on the yacht is immediately identifiable as her. But, it was also a paparazzi photo. Somehow a moment of repose captured by an uninvited photographer became one of the most iconic images of her short life.
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the biopic (out Nov. 1) is a portrait of the princess in a time of transition and tells the little-known story of her brief but significant romance with the heart surgeon Hasnat Khan (played by Lost’s Naveen Andrews) before her tragic death. “Diana is a very complex character who went through at least three different stages in her life, if not four. The interesting part was these last two years,” said Hirschbiegel.
Anything Diana comes with a built-in and somewhat obsessive fan base, which the filmmaker and stars took pains to respect. “If we were recreating an event then we would do our best to be exact,” Watts told EW. Costume designer Julian Day relied on swimwear maker Melissa Odabash to recreate the seminal suit featured in the poster. Hirschbiegel added: “That was crucial to me to reconstruct all the moments that we know in the most authentic, accurate fashion…to make that the cornerstone for people to recognize her and rediscover her.”
Watts, who grew up in Australia, was not a Diana obsessive before taking on the role. “Obviously I was aware of her, but from a distance,” she said. “I just found her life to be fascinating and her struggles with loneliness and the isolation of fame.”
Although the Oscar-nominated actress may be famous in her own right, she doesn’t see many parallels between her own experiences and that of Diana. “There are little moments when I’ve encountered multiple paparazzi harassing me before, but it’s really not any kind of comparison,” she says. “It would be laughable to even enter into that conversation, there’s really no parallel whatsoever other than a few annoying photographers, but it was never-ending for her. She couldn’t do anything.
“From an outsider’s point of view, we think how wonderful it is to be a princess…and of course that’s not the case,” Watts added. “That level of fame would be hard for anyone to survive.”