Emma Corrin should pay attention to her brother more often. He was the first to suggest that she could play a young Princess Diana on “The Crown.”
“I remember being on holiday with my family maybe when the second season of ‘The Crown’ had come out and I remember them joking about who was going to play Princess Diana,” the 25-year-old actor tells me on this week’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” “One of my brothers was like, ‘You should play Princess Diana.’ I was at university at that time and I was like, ‘In my wildest dreams.’ It’s very strange to think back on those kind of moments now.”
Little did she know at the time that she would snag the role. Corrin has wowed critics and fans of “The Crown,” not only for her work as the People’s Princess, but also for her uncanny resemblance to the late Diana.
Can you see how much you look like Princess Diana?
It’s so strange. I have no idea. It’s one of these things that I think you can’t see.
What it is it like to have this newfound fame during the pandemic, because it’s not like you’re walking down many streets and people are recognizing you?
I’ve been in my flat pretty much because we’ve been on lockdown. I’ve been on a few walks around where I live, and people have been like, ‘Oh my God.’ The funniest thing that happened was that my dog got recognized but not me. I pass these two and one of them said, ‘Oh my god, isn’t that Spencer?’ Spencer is my dog’s name. I just thought, what world are we living in?
Is there something comforting about not having to live in the spotlight for now?
I was initially so sad that we weren’t going to do a press tour, and we weren’t able to have a premiere or celebrate together as a cast. I think it’s a lovely moment where you get to celebrate what you’ve made together with your castmates. And it was very sad. I’ve kind of been protected from it in a way because I’ve been inside, just with my friends who are amazing and keeping me grounded. But also for me the most important thing is the work. Although I love events and parties and traveling, doing press from my room and my flat and just talking about the work without going anywhere, it means it’s been very focused on the craft and I think that’s a lovely thing.
Did you ever get emotional while reading the scripts?
I got very emotional reading about when she left her flat and filming the scene where she’s walking down the stairs and her flatmates are at the top of the staircase. And they’re seeing me right, and she said, “Don’t be silly, I’ll see you soon.” But you know that she’s never going to be able to be with them in the same way. And I live with friends from university that I’ve known for five or six years now and I felt incredibly emotional at the thought of being snatched from your friends. You’re at the place where you feel comfortable in the place where you feel loved and secure, and catapulted into this very cold world, cold new world. I cried then.
What was it like leaving your flat for your first day of the shoot? Did you look at your flatmates and say, “I’ll see you soon?”
I think it was for the read through and I remember being picked up in a car. I think I took my dog to the read through, which was very funny. I remember feeling this incredible trepidation. And I remember walking in and there was this long, long table with everyone’s name cards. I got there really early. The name card on my left said, “Gillian Anderson,” and to my right was “Josh O’Connor,” then opposite me was “Olivia Colman.” I think I must have a picture on my phone of the table because my mind was just blown. I was like, this is absolutely terrifying.
If you ran into Prince Harry or Prince William on the street, what would you say?
That’s such a good question. It would be very hard to know what to say. Just because I’ve played this character doesn’t mean I have any understanding of what Diana was like, at all. Although I’d want to say she was incredible, I understand I also have no authority to say that. I’d probably be so conflicted about what to say they probably be long gone before I actually decided what to say. I can imagine clutching their hands and looking into their into their eyes and searching for the words and not being able to quite communicate it.
If you are able to ask Diana a question, what would it be?
That’s such a good question. I guess one of the ones that immediately comes to my head was like, “What made you fight in that moment where you decided that you wanted to take back control of the narrative. What changed?” Because I think we see that the end of the [season], we leave her with that look of simultaneous defiance and complete sadness at the end. I don’t know if that was actually a moment that she experienced, but I’d be interested to find out when she stopped fighting to fit in and decided to fight for herself.
What did you take home from set?
There was one day that we were set up in her bedroom, and they had a load of like costume jewelry on the side. And I took a necklace, I took a gold chain and thought, “I’m going to keep this because I need to take something as a memory.” I’m still waiting for the call from Netflix.
This interview has been edited and condensed. You can listen to it in its entirety above. You can also hear it at iHeartRadio or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.