Naomi Watts dissects Diana role | Inquirer Entertainment
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Naomi Watts dissects Diana role

By: - Columnist
/ 10:41 PM September 12, 2013

A WIG and a prosthetic nosepiece helped her get the look.

LOS ANGELES—“Everybody was doubtful—she’s not the right height, she doesn’t have the right nose, she’s not properly British,” Naomi Watts recalled in a recent interview, enumerating comments she read or heard when it was first announced that she would play the late Princess Diana. The actress had to ignore the catty remarks.

Since the princess was “the most famous woman of our time,” Naomi said she had a lot of material on which  to base her portrayal in “Diana.” The film focuses on the final two years of Diana’s life, when she had a secret love affair with Hasnat Khan, a renowned Pakistani heart surgeon based in the United Kingdom. In the cast are Naveen Andrews (Hasnat), Cas Anvar (Dodi Fayed), Laurence Belcher (Prince William) and Harry Holland (Prince Harry). Oliver Hirschbiegel directs from a script by Stephen Jeffreys, which was based on Kate Snell’s 2001 book, “Diana: Her Last Love.”



So much information


“There’s so much information, images and footage available,” Naomi said. “The most useful was the (British journalist) Martin Bashir interview. I was walking around or jogging with my iPhone or iPad just listening to it… I studied her voice, her pitch…”

“I changed the movements in my face because everything happens on the right side of my face,” said the actress who was born in England and moved with her family to Australia when she was 14. “She seemed to move on the left side because of the way her hair was parted, the way she glanced under that fringe of hers, and her piercing eyes.”

Naomi continued: “I created these libraries of footage available, of her just walking. I watched it over and over. Then I created another five-minute montage of her laughing, then waving, things like that. It was definitely the hardest I’ve worked in terms of creating a character. I would say that taking possession was the scariest thing because we feel we know her so well. I studied to the point where I felt I had it, probably just a few days before we were filming. I was panicking right up until then and then it was like, okay, I have it now.”

Two items helped—a wig and a prosthetic nosepiece. “It was a big moment, putting on the wig. And we tried a few different things with the nose. I have a very different nose. You couldn’t

WITH Naveen Andrews as Hasnat Khan, Diana’s “secret” love, in the biopic, “Diana”

make it exactly like hers… I have a round ball at the end of my nose, and hers was angular. I just tried to get the essence, the right feel. The wig was definitely important.”

Naomi did not meet Hasnat, who is now a surgeon consultant in a university hospital in Essex. “We were told not to go there because he was not interested in any kind of focus on his relationship or talking about it. He spoke when he had to. I actually got quite a bit of information of his testimony (issued by Hasnat to London’s Metropolitan Police as part of the investigation into Diana’s death). That was very helpful.”

Naomi said that like many people around the world, she followed Princess Diana’s journey. “I spent the first part of my life in England. I watched the wedding and I knew all the stories around the time. Then I moved to Australia. She was obviously well-known there but there wasn’t that constant front-page stuff about her every single day. I definitely followed some of the stories. I did not know about Hasnat Khan. So when I read the script, I was quite surprised that there was this whole big story that I knew nothing about.”


The actress talked some more about the then little-known relationship. “After I did the research, starting with Kate Snell’s book, it seemed true. Outside of that book, I read a lot of available stuff. There’s endless material and footage. I was able to contact a few of her friends. They endorsed everything that was in Kate Snell’s book and the script so that was what helped me.”

Sense of humor

Naomi was surprised that Diana had “this great, very cheeky” sense of humor. “She cracked jokes, ones that you didn’t expect a princess to crack. She had a rebellious streak. That’s always interesting when you are learning about a woman or anybody for that matter.”

WATTS with Cas Anvar as Dodi Fayed

“I think she fell in love with Hasnat Khan  because he was someone that she trusted right away,” Naomi said about the relationship that ended shortly before Diana’s tragic death alongside Dodi Fayed in a 1997 car crash in Paris. “They had common interests and a need to help people. She related to him. He did not crave the limelight or want to go public at any point. She trusted him.  This man was never going to exploit her. He understood and embraced all her qualities. She trusted that his love was pure.”

As for Dodi Fayed, Naomi remarked, “From the research I did, it was romance, definitely, but it was very short-lived. Who knows how serious it was? Who knows where it would have gone?”

Her own relationship with her partner, actor Liev Schreiber, required work, she said. “Our family is the most important thing to us. But we both love our work so we negotiate how, when and where work can take place. We adore our children (they have two sons) and we want them to be the focus of our lives.”

(E-mail the columnist at Follow him at

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TAGS: cinema, Naomi Watts, Princess Diana, Romance
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