Naomi Watts was always anxious about the reception her new film Diana would receive – and rightly so. Weeks before the savaging critics bestowed on the film at the world premiere in London recently, Naomi hinted, “I might go into hiding. I might have to leave the country.”
She mightn’t have left the country but Watts did storm out of an interview with BBC radio presenter Simon Mayo when she became uncomfortable with his line of questioning regarding the film. Mayo tweeted “A first for me and @wittertainment as Naomi Watts walked out of an interview! She seemed a tad uncomfortable with the questions. Shame.”
The 44-year-old actress thought long and hard about taking on the role of the iconic late Princess of Wales. Watts knew the biopic, which focuses on Diana’s romance with London-based Pakistani surgeon Hasnat Khan, was always going to ruffle feathers.
Aside from the predictable onslaught from the UK press, Naomi had the Royal Family itself to consider, in particular Princes William and Harry.
Having lost a parent at a young age – Watts’ estranged father, sound engineer Peter Watts, died of a suspected heroin overdose when Naomi was 14 – and also being the mother of two sons Sacha, 6 and Sammy, 4, Naomi considered not taking on the role, wondering how the Princes would feel about it.
“That’s always the big thing in my mind, you know, would they approve?” said Naomi, in a recent interview.
In another interview, Watts said she “found herself constantly asking for (Diana’s) permission to carry on” in the film.
“I felt like I was spending a lot of time with her. There was one particular moment when I felt her permission was granted,” Naomi revealed in another interview.
Such is the obsession of all things Diana, Watts gained insight into the desperate lengths paparazzi would go to, simply to capture a precious, money-making snap of an actress playing a princess who died tragically 16 years ago, with her lover Dodi al-Fayed, when the Mercedes in which they were travelling slammed into a pillar in a Paris road tunnel, while being chased by paparazzi.
“It was definitely not normal.” Said Watts.
As one of the most famous women of our time, with every part of her life documented, scrutinised and watched, literally, under a media microscope, very little is known of Diana’s relationship with Hasnat Khan – a man who is described as her ‘real love’ by those close to the princess.
Khan has described the film as “completely wrong” and “based on gossip.”
Khan refused to participate in the making of the film, just as he avoided the media during his relationship with the princess and after her death.
Watts defended the scenes that take place between Diana and Khan.
“Someone was going to tell this story eventually. Liberties had to be taken and poetic licence. Actors bring nuance to it and, because it’s not a documentary, I think it was OK to do that.”
Diana opens in Australia on October 10.
What do you think of Naomi Watts playing Princess Diana? Will you be seeing Diana the movie?