August 02, 2012
NAOMI Watts' portrayal of Princess Diana has won the ultimate endorsement, the late royal bestowing her approval upon the Aussie actor in a dream.
"This is a first, but I find myself dreaming about her," Watts told News Ltd on location outside of London.
"I felt like I was spending time with her. One particular time, I felt that permission was granted."
Watts' upcoming film, simply called Diana, focuses on the former Princess of Wales life after her divorce from Charles, in particular her romance with Dr Hasnat Khan (played by Lost star Naveen Andrews).
Watts, 43, was initially extremely hesitant to take on the role of "one of the most famous, if not the most famous, women of my time".
"An awful lot of pressure comes with that, so you want to get it right,"she said. "I was dreading people saying `she looks nothing like Diana', and `why her and not somebody else?'. But I couldnt not do it."
Watts' transformation into the peoples' princess has involved six weeks' training with a dialogue coach, repeated viewings of Diana's infamous interview with Martin Bashir, as well as four wigs and a prosthetic nose piece courtesy of the same make-up artist who years ago turned Meryl Streep into Lindy Chamberlain.
Watts also wears several Jacques Azagury dresses that belonged to Diana, while Versace custom-made a replica of the famous one-shouldered, blue silk dress that Diana wore to a benefit for Dr Victor Chang's Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney in 1996.
Watts said she felt Dianas presence especially keenly when wearing her original gowns.
"Theres one particular Azagury dress that was completely unaltered. I was surprised how short she wore it, quite risque! There's been a few eerie moments and that was one of them. There's been moments of a presence felt."
Director Oliver Hirschbiegel believes his leading lady has more than captured Diana's essence.
"Its scary. Sometimes it's as if you're watching the ghost of Diana," he said.
Diana's children with Prince Charles, William and Harry, do not play a big part in the film, but Watts admits to worrying about how the princes will react.
"Were not trying to destroy any memory. We're trying to show her in the best possible light as a human being, though, full of different layers. It's a story that should be told. A piece of history. But its tricky because they are here, the boys. I think about that a lot."
The royal family's approval of the production has been implied, however, with permission granted to film outside the gates of Kensington Palace and in Kensington Gardens.
Though Watts is widely considered an Australian, the team behind Diana seem pained to assert they have an Englishwoman playing this most iconic of English women, as though having a colonial in the role would be bad for business.
Watts diplomatically offered that her time spent out of the UK (she moved to Australia when she was 14) gives her a good perspective on the Diana story.
"I never wasn't English. I was born here, I still have a British passport, but I've lived in Australia and I have Australian blood in me. Maybe being a little removed is a good thing."
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