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Becoming Lady D

This article was published in number 45 of 2022 and we are reproducing it today to retrace the changes Vanity has undergone in the last 20 years. Here are all the articles we are republishing

No one has ever been more Diana than this. The way she tilts her head, the movement of her eyes, the shameless misery. The resemblance is striking: get ready. More than an interpretation, that of Elizabeth Debicki is an absolute adherence to Lady D, who 25 years after her death lives twice thanks to the new awaited season of The Crown. The fifth (and penultimate) is about to arrive on Netflix on November 9, two months after the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the proclamation of King Charles III, preceded by a string of controversies that not even the most controversial series in the history of streaming.
But let’s proceed in order. The cast is totally renewed for the third time: Imelda Staunton inherits the title of sovereign from Olivia Colman, Sir Jonathan Pryce it’s Prince Philip next Tobias Menzies And Dominic West is (a little spot on) Carlo after Josh O’Connor (who earned an Emmy), Debicki picks up the baton of Emma Corrin and interprets, indeed, becomes Diana Spencer.

It’s two drops of water, which has a certain effect. We can say for sure because we have previewed some episodes, where Elizabeth is king. From Melbourne, born in Paris to parents who were former ballet dancers, 32 years old, seven when the sad princess dies prematurely in a car accident, she made her debut in Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann, continues briskly between theatrical performances, Marvel blockbusters and fanta-action a la Tenet. It is she herself who confirms that her character «has very specific physical characteristics». In fact, she also did a great job with Polly Bennett, famous gait teacher and movement coach, including Lady D’s famous head tilt. The Crown; I don’t feel them close, even though Australia, where I live, is part of the Commonwealth. This gave me freedom. However, Diana was the most photographed person in the world: just google to be overwhelmed by a tsunami of information and I, a blank canvas, happily swam on it. My goal was to step into the much more multifaceted role of the simple “people’s princess”: I had to interpret the vision of Peter (Morgan, the creator of the series, ed) and bring out the complexity of character, intelligence, humor and true vitality of Lady D».

An image far from the cinematic versions that have come up to here. Without venturing too much into the perilous territory of spoilers, Elizabeth lights up everything that is already known about the plot, adding a few more details: «It begins with Carlo and Diana in Italy in the early nineties, on the holiday nicknamed by the media “second moon of honey”. It is an attempt to keep them close, to prevent the royal family unit from disintegrating. Instead it is a marble on an inclined plane with a final break destination. Sons William and Harry are in the picture, of course, but as they grow older they become more and more independent and have less need for their mother, who for a certain period of this season is in a state of suspension before finding herself again».

In between are recordings of the sad princess, which fueled investigative journalist Andrew Morton’s best-selling Diana. The true story of her in her words came out in 1992. And the famous 1995 interview with Martin Bashir of the BBC, to which Lady D said: “There were three of us in this marriage”; some 23 million people in Britain watched italmost 40 percent of the population at the time.

“All choices, those of Diana, not easy to make,” continues Elizabeth Debicki. «In my opinion they were attempts to control a storytelling that seemed to escape her control. She tried to be transparent in the hopes that people would empathize, understand what she was going through and why she needed more freedom than she was given».
When asked how close the real version of the interview is to that of the series, the actress replies: «As much as possible. I’ve listened to it so many times that it doesn’t count. Who looks at it
The Crown comes back to the memory of when he saw the original scene. Which is what then
it happens with most of the moments in the fifth season. And here the first controversy is unleashed: it is not sufficiently clear that it is fiction. The issue is not new, but it is now being raised by former Conservative Prime Minister John Major, who was in government from 1990 to 1997 and in The Crown stars Jonny Lee Miller, and Academy Award winner Judi Dench, both concerned that viewers unfamiliar with England’s history might take dramatization for granted. For its part, Netflix has never passed off the series as what it is not and has always defined it as a work of fiction based on historical events. In the fifth season, in particular, we imagine what could have happened behind closed doors, away from outside eyes, in a significant decade for the royal family.
“Peter used his creative license to open up a space at: ‘What if…?’,” Debicki continues. «This is clearly what happens in the episode of the divorce between Charles and Diana: the two meet alone and this allows us to explore central questions and answers».
But the historical reconstruction is not the only problem. The alleged betrayal of Philip, at the time 58, with the beautiful and elegant Penny Knatchbull, then 30 years younger than him and now 69, Countess Mountbatten of Burma (in her role on the screen is Natascha McElhone) also weighs.

The Crown elaborates this friendship, born after the death of her little daughter and cemented by the passion of the “couple” for carriage races. It is not the first time that the series dramatizes a possible infidelity of Filippo: in the second season, for example, reference is made to the Russian dancer Galina Ulanova. The point, however, now is the timing: the Queen has just been buried. The range of reactions in and around Buckingham Palace ranges from ‘insensitive’ to ‘cruel rubbish’. Another strand of The Crownanother stomach ache: Prince Charles, too little promoted to sovereign, plotting to depose The Queen, while pining for love for Camilla Parker Bowles (yes, the famous Tampongate is there. For those who removed it, we are talking about an infamous intimate phone call between the two that ended up in the papers).

But what does Elizabeth II do in all this? She is grappling with the 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne, among other things an annus horribilis for her and the monarchy: Windsor Castle goes up in flames, to contribute to the costs of reconstruction the crown agrees to pay taxes and to open to the public Buckingham Palace; three of her four children want a divorce; television creeps into the royal family.

It is in this framework that Mohamed Al-Fayed (actor Salim Daw) enters the scene: driven by the desire to be accepted by the aristocracy, he exploits the wealth and power he has earned on his own to obtain a seat at the royal table for him and for his son Dodi (Khalid Abdalla).

Not long after August 31, 1997 and the premature death of Lady D in Paris. Elizabeth Debicki feels «a greater responsibility and pressure to play a real person who is no longer there. There were days when in my kitchen I said to myself: “I don’t know how to do it!”; but that pushed me to immerse myself more and more in Diana, to find new ways to get closer to her. When I finally received the script, I felt an incredible sense of relief. I was also mad with joy: I’m a fan of The Crown since episode one, and one of my very good friends, Vanessa Kirby, played Princess Margaret in seasons one and two.”
Even the stage clothes made Elizabeth Debicki crazy with joy, obvious: «From the iconic black revenge dress to sweatpants worn with boots and a baseball cap. Diana’s wardrobe is a mirror of her evolution as a human being, freeing herself from the armor of the court. She, like other women in the series, changes, survives, is challenged and finds the strength to bear it. What is more beautiful and more proudly feminist?».

Source: Vanity Fair

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