“The Crown” star Elizabeth Debicki has said it felt “incredibly invasive” to deal with fake paparazzi while playing Princess Diana in the Netflix series.
Debicki, who returns as Diana in the sixth and final season of the Netflix show about the British royal family, portrays the princess in the last weeks of her life. At the time, Diana was the most photographed woman in the world, and the series shows how events conspired to make a stolen snap of the princess worth its weight in gold, effectively supercharging the paparazzi who eventually chased her into the Paris tunnel where she died in a crash in 1997.
More from Variety
“It was difficult to recreate,” Debicki said in an internal interview with Netflix (conducted in April 2023, before the SAG strikes). “It was heavy and very manic, and incredibly invasive. And it had a kind of pressure to it. At times it’s almost like an anomalistic response to being pursued by that many actors playing the press, because there’s nowhere you can go and you only have to be in a situation like that for about a minute, before you realize this is completely unbearable.”
“Trying to get from one place to another and to have this swarm around you, you feel very trapped. It’s a really unpleasant experience,” Debicki continued. “It’s really horrendous to have that many people yelling at you and wanting something. So we let it happen, because it feels like a very important part of the story to tell.”
The cast also had to contend with a real royal death during production; that of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022. Imelda Staunton, who plays Elizabeth during the fifth and sixth seasons (taking over the role from Claire Foy and Olivia Colman), said it was “quite difficult” filming the show after the funeral. “We carried on with as much dignity and grace as they have always done on ‘The Crown’ but, obviously, there was a very different temperature in the world, in England and even more so on ‘The Crown.’ We couldn’t do anything differently; I had to carry on, but we were all a wee bit sad.”
With most of the cast returning to their roles for a second time, however, the sixth season of the show was in other ways a more relaxed affair. Dominic West, who plays Elizabeth’s son and heir Prince Charles, said he had less apprehension about stepping into the royal’s bespoke shoes.
“Last season, I was worried about everything and texting [‘The Crown’ showrunner] Peter Morgan madly at 5 o’clock in the morning and this season, everything was just much more settled,” West said. “It is such a relief that it’s already out there and there’s no apprehension about it and in some ways, we got a few bad reviews or a few indifferent reviews and that sort of helps. It sort of takes the pressure off and I felt really released by that and much more relaxed about my approach this time and I really enjoyed it.”
There was one change for West coming back to the show: he stopped using prosthetics to make his ears more pronounced like the real Charles. “We dispensed with the ear plumpers this season,” the actor revealed. “I used to have little plumpers that made my ears go out and we kept looking at it because it was quite a faff and they were quite uncomfortable and they were made specially and actually, they didn’t make much difference. They didn’t make me look any more like Charles, unfortunately.”
Best of Variety