LONDON— Elizabeth Debicki may have won rave reviews for her portrayal of the late Princess Diana in the new season of royal drama “The Crown”, but the Australian actor says the role felt “insurmountable” when she first took it on.
The 32-year-old joins the award-winning Netflix series following the reign of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth for season five, which portrays the royals in the 1990s when they faced marital upsets, public dissent and a fire at Windsor Castle.
“It was utterly daunting and I would never say anything other than the truth about that. It was a huge challenge and it felt insurmountable at the beginning,” Debicki said in an interview.
“It was overwhelming to begin with and then it eventually… funnelled down to something that felt manageable. And I think the process of that was like anything…. you just have to sort of jump the line and start to do it.”
Debicki, known for “The Night Manager” and “Tenet”, said things got better once she got the scripts.
“That was sort of the real penny-dropping moment because then you realize you can treat it like a job, where here is your character, here are your lines and this is the scene, so that was a relief,” she said.
“The Crown” has drawn criticism and calls for disclaimers over its dramatized storylines. Some commentators have voiced concern over season five airing just two months after Elizabeth’s death and the impact it could have on her son Charles’ reign.
Netflix describes “The Crown” as “fictional dramatization”, inspired by real events.
One of the main plotlines this season follows Charles and Diana’s divorce. It shows Diana, then one of the most photographed women in the world, increasingly isolated.
Debicki said one of her biggest challenges was learning to mimic Diana’s voice.
“It was so important for me to get the dialect and the voice as close to something that’s really recognizably hers, and that was challenging,” she said.
“When you try and learn someone else’s voice and dialect, it’s this crazy unraveling of everything you feel comfortable about. So … I really gave it a lot of time because I thought it’s so important that it’s right.”
—Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Jonathan Oatis