Elizabeth Debicki is giving her contribution to Princess Diana in the fifth season of Netflix The crown.
The actress sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about her role as Princess of Wales, including recreating some of Diana’s iconic outfits and her personal views on royalty.
Fifth season of The crown follows the British monarchy in the 1990s with the introduction of Prime Minister John Major (Jonny Lee Miller) while focusing on the troubled relationship between Diana and then-Prince Charles (Dominic West). Debicki says that while much emphasis has been placed on highlighting a period of isolation and media frenzy for the Princess of Wales, it was also a time for her to come into her own. “It was a very special moment in her life in season five,” says Debicki. “It’s this treacherous journey in terms of printing, separating and divorcing her marriage. We know it’s a super isolated time for her and she’s been in tremendous pain.
Debicki also explains that he spoke to many people who knew Diana closely as part of his research. “The thing, in addition to bringing to life [what] was on the page, it was also important to me to see this levity and this joy and this desire to have love and fun and all those glorious things in her life,” Debicki says.
Debicki took over the role of Diana from Emma Corrin, who played a younger version of the princess during season four, which covered the early years of her tumultuous marriage to Charles. Debicki notes that while she didn’t get a chance to speak with Corrin before filming, her predecessor’s performance greatly influenced Diana’s interpretation of her.
“It’s almost like a piece of your puzzle in a way,” says Debicki, calling it “a passing of the torch” or “kind of a relay with the seasons of the show.”
He adds, “The feeling you get walking into this is really a new beginning for you and this is your lane and we kind of built it for you, so as much as you inform yourself there is never a feeling that you have to do what this person finished.
Debicki also talks about recreating some of Diana’s iconic fashion moments this season, including the infamous revenge dress. Debicki explains that she worked extensively with costume designers Amy Roberts and Sidonie Roberts on all of Diana’s looks. “There’s a duality in the costume process,” she says. “One is something we’re creating based on a silhouette that exists in recreations of some of her more ‘normcore’ hers that she came up with in the ’90s. And then, of course, there are these really statement, iconic looks that everyone’s been waiting for. And so I think there’s a lot of pressure to get [the revenge dress] Right. There’s been a lot of fittings because it’s an incredible dress.”
The actress noted that recreating the moment felt particularly symbolic. “It’s kind of a triumphant moment for her, but it’s also tinged with this deep sadness,” she says. “And I think we understand that duplicity when we’ve seen the moment in real life.”
As for Debicki’s favorite ’90s Diana look? The actress says it was more of her relaxed, everyday style than hers. “I loved her kind of mom uniform,” Debicki explains. “She’s so chic but she’s so casual, and it was so transgressive for a royal to leave their kids at school in high-waisted jeans and a baseball cap, and that side of her that I loved because I think she was very rebellious.”
And when asked if the series has changed her view of the British monarchy, Debicki says she feels a sense of compassion. “I’ve always loved the Queen, but I was a little too young to have those 90s memories.” She adds: “I think [there’s] compassion and understanding for how hard and how hard they work. The sheer amount of sacrifice, I definitely feel like I understand that though from this perspective, but I think they’re tremendous for carrying that weight on their shoulders.
Watch more of Debicki’s interview in the video above.
The crown it is now streaming on Netflix.