Thus far, movies made about the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, have remained relegated to home video and television. The majority of these films have taken the shape of documentary filmmaking, using actual footage of the world’s favorite oft-spotlighted princess. There have been a small handful of obscure actresses who have taken on the role of Diana, but there has yet to be a bold-faced name to step into those hard-to-fill shoes. Enter Jessica Chastain. And then … exit Jessica Chastain, and enter Naomi Watts.
In November of 2011, it was reported that Oscar-nominated Chastain was set to play the people’s princess in German director Oliver Hirschbiegel's “Caught in Flight.” “Caught in Flight” will focus on later years in Diana’s short life, though whether the drama will center around an apparent love affair with heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Kahn or zoom in more closely on Diana's humanitarian work is yet to be seen. One thing about which we can be certain (at least for now): Chastain is out, and Watts is in.
The story of Princess Diana is one known the world over. Born to a well-to-do family in Norfolk, Diana wasn’t yet twenty years old when Prince Charles began courting her, under pressure placed on him by his family to marry. Not a year later, the two were engaged and on July 29, 1981, while the world watched, the fairy-tale wedding of the century took place among yards of ivory silk taffeta, 3,500 attendees, and the walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Since then, the true story of a fairy tale gone awry has become known to the masses, and numerous publications and documentaries have delved into the tale.
Taking Diana’s story – even just a slim slice of it – to the big screen after all this time is no small undertaking. Watts, who was nominated for an Oscar for best actress in 2004 for her role in “21 Grams,” has proven herself consistently in myriad roles, from CIA operative Valerie Plame to adulterous gallerista Sally Channing in Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” to King Kong’s main squeeze. But is Watts fit for the role of a royal woman revered by millions? Can she ever fill Diana’s shoes, if only for the time required for a feature-length film? We’ll have to wait and see.
Thus far, movies made about the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, have remained relegated to home video and television.