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Aug 2, 2013

An epic romance: Naomi Watts tells of 'nerve-wracking' role playing the late princess

By Baz Bamigboye/1 August 2013

The most delicate moments in the film Diana are the intimate scenes between the late princess and heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.

There’s something unnerving about seeing the mother of our future King cavorting with her lover, even in a dramatic representation.

Certainly, there is the potential for major embarrassment, but the love scenes between Diana and Hasnat, played by Naomi Watts and Naveen Andrews with Oscar-calibre performances, are done with exquisite taste.

There are no crude sex shots; instead, the camera captures the couple rolling on to the floor wrapped in white bed sheets after making love. ‘That day when I first saw you was so powerful,’ she whispers in his ear...........

The tragic echoes: How actress Naomi Watts recreates the last two tumultuous years of Diana's life in a new British film

In another scene, director Oliver Hirschbiegel captures the pair sitting up in bed in the doctor’s cramped apartment. Hasnat enjoys a post-coital cigarette which prompts Diana to wonder aloud: ‘Why do smokers always smoke after sex?’

‘It’s a great love story, so of course there are love scenes, but none are gratuitous,’ insisted Robert Bernstein, who produced the film with Douglas Rae.

Naomi told me the film-makers ‘bent over backwards’ not to cause offence, but they didn’t want to sanitise the affair.

‘They’re from different cultures — and she was prepared to marry him, and move to Pakistan with him. We had to explore all of that,’ she added.

Naomi said she’s well aware of how fascinated people remain with the Princess; and about how quick they are to judge anything involving her name.

‘Some people have said to me: “Why would you do that? You’re not the right look! You don’t have the nose! You don’t have the walk, or talk; or the height.” ’

In fact, those are some of the many reasons why Naomi initially turned the role down.

‘It was nerve-racking going into it — and now I’m reaching the second nervous state,’ she told me, as Diana approaches its world premiere in London on September 5.

That will be followed by a huge release, through Entertainment One, on September 20 which will see Diana shown on 450 screens around the country.

Naomi wondered how Diana coped with the level of scrutiny. ‘Who could survive that? And who wouldn’t want to try to control it as best they could? There were times that worked for her, and times when it backfired.’

Naomi said getting Diana’s voice right was the hardest thing. ‘Everyone remembered it so well, because she did sort of change that posh-sounding voice,’ she said.

‘It wasn’t the stiff upper lip we were used to,’ Naomi explained. ‘She made her voice sound more modern; more attractive.’

Then there was the ‘look’. ‘Those looks!’ she laughed. ‘Her fringe. The piercing eyes that told so many stories. There was the vulnerable, sad look and the incredible strong look.’

This isn’t some second-rate film with a plastic Shy-Di lookalike dating a dopey doctor. It’s a serious movie that explores a romance in which the heroine was prepared to give up almost everything to be with the man she loved.

Interestingly, it was Hasnat who saw it could never work — for religious and cultural reason.

Naomi’s latest film is worlds away from Diana. It’s called St Vincent de Van Nuys, and she plays a stripper. ‘I go from royals to poles,’ she said.


Amy said...

Good chemistry.

Green said...

I can understand this is not an easy role. There are people out there who hate the Princess.

Anonymous said...

She can do nothing wrong.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure she will make a better Diana than the real one.

Santos said...

I love Naomi.