The world has been given its first glimpse of The Crown‘s latest iteration of Princess Diana, with the release of an on-set image of Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki in the coveted role.
Netflix dropped the first official look at Debicki and Dominic West (The Affair) as Princes Charles in character as the former royal couple for the upcoming fifth and sixth seasons of the award-winning series.
With smart, ’90s cropped blond hair, the Tenet actress is pictured reclining on a peach-coloured couch, slightly smirking and wearing Diana’s iconic sapphire blue engagement ring.
She looks very much in character and many fans have gushed about how she is the “spitting image” of the late Princess, who was killed in a car crash in a Paris tunnel in 1997.
French-born, Melbourne-raised Debicki, whose impressive list of credits includes The Night Manager, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and The Great Gatsby, described landing the role of Diana as “a true privilege and an honour” when it was announced last year.
“It is my true privilege and honour to be joining this masterful series, which has had me absolutely hooked from episode one,” the 30-year-old said at the time.
“Princess Diana’s spirit, her words and her actions live in the hearts of so many.”
Debicki takes over the role from Emma Corrin who portrayed the late princess in Season Four. She was recently spotted filming a scene on the grounds of Ardverikie Lodge (a stand-in for Balmoral Castle), according to Harper’s Bazaar.
Wearing an oversized blazer and denim jeans, walking beside two small boys in Polo shirts, Debicki – with her trademark statuesque height – looked right at home in the role.
She was set to follow a career in ballet (both parents were professional ballet dancers), but studied acting instead.
Debicki was quickly recognised as a natural actress, and in 2015 was honoured as the breakthrough star of the year at the Australians in Film Awards.
Her first Hollywood role came in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013) as golfer Jordan Baker, which was followed by performances in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), Macbeth (2015) and Everest (2015).
According to Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Debicki was offered the part of Kat in 2020’s Tenet without an audition, but insisted on reading for the part because she wanted director Christopher Nolan to be comfortable he made the right decision, which he soon was.
“She came in and blew everyone away”, Nolan said.
With social media already raving about Debicki being the “perfect choice” following Corrin’s departure, The Crown’s casting director Robert Sterne told The Associated Press that swapping out actors was always an open question.
“You spend a lot of time looking at the pictures and images of people at particular stages of their life” to find the right actor.
“You also have to take into account the way that that previous actor portrayed it. Who do you think can take that baton and run with it?” he said, describing that metaphor to AP as reinventing the role “but hopefully not in a jarring way”.
As for what will be covered in the final two series, Variety wrote that Season Five will “likely see the family through the Queen’s so-called ‘annus horribilis’ in 1992 … Charles and Camilla’s affair and the publication of Prince Andrew’s wife Sarah Ferguson sunbathing topless with a male friend”.
“It is unclear whether Season Five will stretch to include Diana’s 1997 death in a Paris car crash or whether that must wait until Season Six,” the magazine reported.
Variety said producers declined to say “whether they will depict a re-enactment of the crash in the show”.
Tatler reckons Debicki’s two seasons will concentrate on Diana throughout the 1990s, from the separation from Charles to her “there were three of us in the marriage” interview and the “revenge dress”.
Debicki told Gotham Magazine last October, after securing the role, that Diana was “like a symbol — like a magical person”.
“I think it’s amazing that from age seven, I would remember somebody who had no actual impact on my life as a child in Australia – and yet I was very aware of her presence in the world,” she said.
“I remember seeing her face on magazines. My mother was very aware of her, as I think a lot of women close to her age were. She really followed her quite intimately because she represented something extremely human and extremely symbolic.”
Not the only screen Princess Diana
Meanwhile, Kristen Stewart, of Twilight Saga fame, will star in biopic Spencer, one of 21 feature-length films premiering at the Venice Film Festival from September 1.
“The action of Spencer takes place during one Christmas weekend at Sandringham, when Diana reportedly realised her marriage to Prince Charles was not working,” reports Tatler.
Stewart told InStyle: “It’s one of the saddest stories to exist ever, and I don’t want to just play Diana – I want to know her implicitly.”
Production on Season Five of The Crown began in the UK in July and will land on Netflix in 2022.