Spencer Star Kristen Stewart Says Princess Diana Was Mister Rogers-Level Earnest

“Spencer” has received rave reviews out of the Venice and Telluride film festivals, and now star Kristen Stewart is opening up a bit more about her process in bringing such an icon as Princess Diana to the big screen. In a noon seminar held on September 6 at Telluride’s Town Park, Stewart spoke about some of the challenges she faced making the Pablo Larrain film.

“It’s weird to traipse across delicate stuff like that,” she said of its real-life background. “We all know there are people still alive that are incredibly enmeshed in this and intimately related to this story. I could never become a completely different person. I think that she was somebody who just felt so explosively alive that, in order to do her justice, I had to become so explosively alive that I had to be a larger part of myself in order to remain impulsive and truly present.”

Stewart suggested that going for note-perfect verisimilitude was less important than capturing the way Diana made everyone feel. “You can shove as much of that into your body as possible, but it is more spiritual,” she said. “And if you take all the affectation away, any details that comprise someone’s personality traits, the more resounding, impactful elements of a person is just what they felt like.”

That may bring to mind Tom Hanks’ approach to Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” where the actor seemed more concerned with conveying an impression of the beloved children’s host than an impersonation. And Stewart actually sees a connection between Fred Rogers and the late Diana Spencer.

“She’s a huge contradiction, the weirdest combination of things that don’t necessarily go together all the time,” Stewart said. “It would’ve been easy to make her kind of perfect and it’s so fun to martyr her because she’s beautiful and just wanted people to be happy. She’s like Mister Rogers. There are certain people where you’re like, ‘Are you that sincere? You’re making me uncomfortable!’ I was opened up by her in a way that was so striking.”

“Spencer” is set to be released in theaters November 5 by Neon.

Reporting by Eric Kohn.

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