Elizabeth Debicki Talks 'Tenet' and Playing Princess Diana on 'The Crown' (Exclusive)

Elizabeth Debicki
Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty Images

'Obviously Princess Diana was a truly, profoundly, remarkable, unique woman.'

Even starring in Tenet didn't adequately prepare Elizabeth Debicki for seeing Tenet. "I made this and I was in these enormous sequences and when I saw it in the cinema, it actually hit me like a viewer," she told ET's Rachel Smith.

Christopher Nolan's latest topsy-turvy, mind-bending time travel thriller casts Debicki opposite John David Washington and Robert Pattinson as secret agents racing to save the world. On set, the actress focused on figuring out the story "sort of, like, atom by atom." But when she saw it in the theater?

"It just hits you on this really visceral level," she said. "It had been a long time -- obviously -- since I'd been in a cinema. And I needed it. I really needed that feeling. I just think Nolan is the perfect thing to go back to the cinema for. Because it literally hits you vibrationally and it's so much fun."

With Tenet now playing (in many locations) around the world, ET sat down with Debicki to talk about what it means to return to multiplex and her next role as Princess Diana in Netflix's The Crown.

On bringing people back to the big screen

Tenet marks the largest release since theaters re-opened amid the pandemic -- yet many markets won't screen the movie for the foreseeable future, prompting some fans to travel hundreds of miles to an open theater.

"I actually just heard that that was happening. The circumstance that we're in is so unprecedented -- it's such a bizarre time for people, and people have been going through so much. It's been really, profoundly difficult, and I think that cinema is something that can bring people a lot of joy and it can really help people escape. It gives you that fix of entertainment in a really collective way. Obviously, the seating is at limited capacity, but I think it's a very human need to experience that entertainment… So, I think it's remarkable that it's happening. Making this, we would never have known that these would be the conditions in which people would be seeing the film. But so long as people feel safe and they're in a safe place to do it, I think it's something that people need."

Warner Bros.

On traveling the globe to shoot Tenet

Tenet offers moviegoers a truly global escape from the confines of our homes after months of quarantine, having shot on location everywhere from India to Estonia, from Norway to England.

"Not to be cliché, but I would have to say Italy [was my favorite]. It's so beautiful. We shot in Amalfi -- where I had never been before -- and there's a scene that happens on a terrace in a little town above Amalfi called Ravello and people have asked me, 'Is it green screen?' Because it looks so remarkable. It's so profoundly beautiful, it's literally jaw-dropping. Again, no one could have known that this would be the circumstance, but the fact that we did go to all those countries and people have been locked down for so long and just seeing their town and their street and whatever, and then you get to go and have access? It's kind of perfect for right now."

On playing Princess Di on The Crown

Debicki was already watching Netflix's royal chronicle when she was cast to portray Princess Diana for the series' final two seasons. She will assume the role from actress Emma Corrin, who will originate the part in season 4.

"I truly, truly am a fan, and I have been since season one. My very dear friend Vanessa Kirby played Princess Margaret in the first two seasons so beautifully. That's why I started watching it, really, and I remember watching it thinking, 'This is remarkable.' Everything people do on that screen is just incredible acting. For me to even start to swim in that ocean is incredible. And obviously Princess Diana was a truly profoundly remarkable, unique woman, so it's nothing but an honor to be asked to play her."

Tenet is now in theaters, while The Crown's fourth season (which does not yet feature Debicki) is streaming Nov. 15 on Netflix.