Update: NEON and Topic Studios announced that they have co-acquired U.S. rights to Spencer.
With a few large-scale projects taking time to get off the ground, Pablo Larraín returned to Chile and his free-form, small-scale roots for the vibrant dance/relationship drama Ema. He’s now back with another project with a high-profile star and also mark his return to political history mode after Jackie.
Deadline reports Larraín will direct Spencer, a drama set to star Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana. Scripted by Steven Knight (Locke, Serenity), the film will be set over three days in the early 1990s when Diana realized “her marriage to Prince Charles wasn’t working, and that she needed to veer from a path that put her in line to one day be queen.” With the title taken from the Princess of Wales’ given name, Diana Frances Spencer, the film takes place in their estate in Norfolk, England. Production is eying an early 2021 start, which means we may see it by the end of next year.
“We all grew up, at least I did in my generation, reading and understanding what a fairy tale is,” said Larraín. “Usually, the prince comes and finds the princess, invites her to become his wife and eventually she becomes queen. That is the fairy tale. When someone decides not to be the queen, and says, I’d rather go and be myself, it’s a big big decision, a fairy tale upside down. I’ve always been very surprised by that and thought it must have been very hard to do. That is the heart of the movie.
He also had ample, deserved praise for his lead actress. “Kristen is one of the great actors around today,” said Larraín. “To do this well, you need something very important in film, which is mystery. Kristen can be many things, and she can be very mysterious and very fragile an ultimately very strong as well, which is what we need. The combination of those elements made me think of her. The way she responded to the script and how she is approaching the character, it’s very beautiful to see. I think she’s going to do something stunning and intriguing at the same time. She is this force of nature.
He continued, “I’ve seen movies from Kristin that are so diverse it’s incredible, showing different layers and her diversity and strength as an actress. We’re very happy to have her, she’s very committed. As a filmmaker, when you have someone who can hold such a weight, dramatic and narrative weight just with her eyes, then you have the strong lead who can deliver what we are looking for.”
After Natalie Portman’s fierce performance in Jackie, one can only imagine the kind of performance that Stewart will deliver here. The actress also recently played another famous historical figure with her Seberg biopic. Similar to the relatively tight timeframe of Jackie, Larraín’s film won’t touch on all aspects of Diana’s life, which was tragically cut short in 1997, but rather focus solely on this turning point of a weekend.
Take a look at an interview with the royal couple over a decade prior to the events that will be depicted in Spencer.