“I thought it was a very unusual take on the substance of Princess Diana,” the Diana The Voice of Change author told Us. “I would say it’s much more to do with the director’s lens into what he believed to be the reality of a neurotic disposition within a woman — who just happened to be Princess Diana.”
The film, which was released on November 5, follows Princess Diana through a few days during the 1991 holiday season as her marriage to Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) is deteriorating. The Pablo Larraín-directed film is getting plenty of Oscar buzz as film critics praise Stewart’s performance.
Pearce, however, found it difficult to become absorbed in the movie when the fictional version was so far off from the real royal story of Diana, who died in a car crash on August 31, 1997.
“The characterization, the story line, the nature of the way that the screenplay worked, what Kristen did — that was nothing to do with Princess Diana,” he explained. “It was a sort of surreal elegy that was created by Pablo, the director. I loved what he did with [the 2016 film] Jackie. I thought it was extraordinary, you know, that sort of immensely myopic lens into the torture that Jackie [Onassis Kennedy] had experienced. And evidently, he was trying to use a similar psychological investigation into Diana.”
Most distracting was 31-year-old Stewart’s frenetic energy was she played the Princess of Wales, who was typically seen as quite graceful and elegant.
“It’s just really difficult when you take these luminous iconic figures like Diana, who everybody knows, and, of course, everybody knows her for her sparkling authenticity and extraordinary immediacy,” Pearce explains. “So when you have a very mannered performance from somebody like Kristin, who I think is a really interesting artist, it threw me off. It took me a long time to move into the actual movie itself and try to bathe in what his perspective was.”
It was hard for Pearce to evaluate the Twilight actress’ performance since he didn’t agree with the writing or direction behind Spencer.
“Well, it wasn’t Diana,” he said of the California native’s delivery. “It was somebody who was assuming Diana and she had been — I think Kristen is [a] really interesting artist and she’s a really interesting actress. But she’d been contorted into a mannered performance that was just unreal for me.”
He continued, “Of course, that was one of the most compelling things about the real Diana, that we were so indubitably linked into the vital substance of her life force, her character, her easiness, her humor, and her beauty and elegance. Diana was all flow. Diana was elegant and gracious and very into her body. And what Kristin had been asked to do was to move through a very staccato, a very boom-boom-boom-boom-boom quality of energy. So it was actually difficult to hear what she was saying most of the time.”
Stewart has been clear that the movie is certainly not a biopic. “Our movie is dramatized as hell. It’s condensed into three days,” she told the Los Angeles Times in September.
Still, she added that she still “felt spiritual” on set and believed Diana’s spirit was near. “There were times where I was like, ‘Oh, God,’ almost like she was, you know, trying to break through. It was weird. And amazing. I’ve never felt anything like it in my life,” the star said.