Naomi Watts is already getting positive reviews for capturing the look and spirit of the late Princess Diana in photos and snippets released ahead of her new movie Diana, due out September 20. Now she's opening up about what persuaded her to take the role and she reveals the challenges of portraying such an iconic figure.
In an interview conducted by her longtime friend and We Don't Live Here Anymore costar, Laura Dern, Watts tells Hamptons magazine she knew she'd face close scrutiny for the role. "So many people are going to pounce on me for not looking enough like her, not being tall enough, not being properly British -- and I am actually properly British," she said. "I'm also Australian, but all of those negative comments were sort of floating around in the back of my head and really stifling me about whether or not I should do this..."
The 44-year-old, two-time Oscar nominee said she also had reservations about how her portrayal would be received by Diana's sons, Britain's Prince William and Prince Harry. "Obviously the sensitivity of it, is it the right thing to do, how would the boys [Princes William and Harry] feel about it? But they're not boys; they're men," she explained. "They are aware that stories will be told about history and them included. Maybe it was a little bit earlier than people expected, but at some point the story had to be told. And I just loved the challenge of it."
Watts said she tried to capture in Diana one of her most endearing qualities, that of "a grooming mother" to her boys. "Allegedly, from the research I did, Prince Charles was never touched as a child -- that's the Victorian way. She (Diana) changed things for them and definitely for us. She made the royal family more accessible; she made us believe they were actually real human beings."
On Diana's life as a princess, Watts said she admires her attempts to deal with adversity by pushing ahead and being positive. "I can't really think of many people who can survive that level of fame. It's horrible to imagine that life. But she kept trying to get better -- that's why I fell in love with her. She was doing so much work to survive that, and fighting to be happy."