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Her isolation really touched me: Emma Corrin on playing Princess Diana in ‘The Crown’
Actor Emma Corrin says she was really touched by the isolation Princess Diana struggled with while portraying the famous character on the fourth season of “The Crown”.
Corrin, a 24-year-old relative newcomer, has earned praise for her portrayal of Diana Spencer in the Netflix royal drama that is populated by some of the finest actors in Oscar winner Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter and Tobias Menzies.
She admitted there was a lot of “pressure and responsibility” to portray the Princess of Wales on the new season of the show, which depicts her transformation from a bashful young adult to a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage to Prince Charles, the future king of England, played by Josh O'Connor. Asked about the most tragic element about playing the character, the actor said it had to be Diana’s loneliness.
“I suppose the sense of isolation and loneliness that she found. It was quite acute in the episode three when she leaves her flat and embarks on what she thinks is going to be the happiest journey of her life,” Corrin told PTI in a group interview over Zoom. The early episodes of “The Crown” show Diana leave her Chelsea flat and settle in Buckingham Palace with not a soul to talk to as Charles is mostly away.
The episodes also depict her battle with the onset of bulimia, a disorder marked by large amount of eating and then trying to purge the calories in an unhealthy way. As someone who lives with four her best friends, the actor said, she cannot imagine leaving them behind and “entering a world where I won’t see them again in the same way”.
“She (Diana) is basically forced to grow up and assume a role that I don’t think she is particularly ready for. Seeing her lack of support and isolation really touched me but then I became really interested in this fine line she has within her of this vulnerability and strength. “We see her become very vulnerable but at the same time there is this strength in her that becomes more prominent in later episodes.” Asked about the challenges of accurately portraying bulimia on screen, Corrin said it was important to include those scenes to do justice to Diana’s story.
“The scenes depicting her bulimia and mental health were very important to me. She spoke candidly about her experiences with bulimia and also how she struggled with it during the initial years of her marriage. “And I thought, to do justice to her story, they sort of had to be included and I also think that bulimia and mental health are depicted on the screen in full and not just alluded to although given the sensitive topic, with appropriate warnings to help people who would be triggered by that kind of content. I am glad that we did.” To prepare for her character, one of the most talked about women in the 20th century, Corrin worked with a movement and dialogue coach to get Diana’s mannerisms and accent right besides figuring out “why those things ended the way they did”.
The actor said she was surprised to learn the nuances of the relationship between Charles and Diana and “how much love existed there”. Asked whether there were any similarities between her and Diana, Corrin said, like her on-screen character she too is "not good with being alone." "I am people’s person... I come alive when I am with other people. And I think she and I are similar in that way. Other than that, I can’t really think (of any other similarity)." The actor also praised show creator Peter Morgan’s script for transporting the characters in the realm of fiction, which gave her a chance to bring her own version to life.
“Once you are in his story and acting those words, it kind of eases that pressure a little bit, although some of the scenes were quite difficult,” she said, adding working with Colman and Menzies was a "pinch me moment". "They are lovely people," Corrin said. The fourth season of “The Crown” started streaming from November 15.