Portraying the “People’s Princess” in the new biopic Diana was a role Naomi Watts approached with tears and trepidation.
The 45-year-old mother of two says she had concerns about how Princes William and Harry would react to the film about their mother, who was killed in a car accident when they were aged just 15 and 12.
“Yes, I was very aware of the sensitivities involved. That’s why I turned it down twice… but, ultimately, I felt I had to rise to the challenge,” Naomi told Weekly correspondent Jenny Forsyth at the London premiere.
“I struggled with the idea for some time. Everyone feels they know her, so I questioned whether I could ever claim her as being my own character.”
“I do care about how they [the princes] feel about it. They’re men now, and they understand that their mother was the most famous woman of our time, so there will always be an obvious interest in her.”
Despite Naomi’s concerns, the film recently sparked more controversy when an advertising poster was placed directly above the Paris tunnel where Diana was killed. One of her closest friends, Rosa Monckton, spoke of her outrage.
“I really don’t have any words to describe how I feel about this cynical and shameless attempt to publicise a film that should never have been made. To have made a film so speculative as this is disgusting enough, but to then advertise it on the spot at which she died is despicable. It is a terrible intrusion into her memory, not to mention the lives of her sons, whose feelings are often forgotten.”
The film’s distributor has not commented on the poster, which is one of many across Paris.
The movie follows Diana’s love affair with Dr Hasnat Khan in the year before her death, but royal author Richard Kay says it makes light of the gravity of Diana’s decisions, and falls short of the women who captured the hearts of the world.
“Could a two-hour film really do justice to my friend Diana? The answer, I’m afraid, is that it does not,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.
“That Diana had fallen in love with the burly heart surgeon was a secret she shared with very few, but it impacted hugely on her life in a way that this film does scant justice to,” says Richard.