Guy Hendrix Dyas (‘Spencer’ production designer): ‘The artistry is in creating vastness’ to make Diana feel ‘small and diminutive’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“The artistry is in creating vastness by dressing the sets and choosing the locations in a way that really made you feel small and diminutive,” Oscar-nominated production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas reveals when describing how to underpin and even intensify the emotion on Pablo Larraín‘s “Spencer.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Dyas above.

SEE Kristen Stewart (‘Spencer’) would break 12-year Oscar curse

The Neon film stars Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, who grapples with ending her loveless marriage to Prince Charles (Jack Farthing). It opens on a cold December morning in 1991 against the backdrop of the royal family’s upcoming Christmas festivities at the Queen’s estate in Sandringham. The film focuses on a transformative crossroads in Diana’s life, re-imagining what might have happened during the days leading up to her decision to break free from the family’s suffocating grasp.

After its world premiere in-competition at the 78th Venice International Film Festival on September 3, the film received raves from critics, with Oscar buzz building for Stewart’s compelling performance as the troubled princess, which takes center stage throughout the film, alongside a strong supporting cast including Timothy Spall, Sean Harris and Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins, all of whom play key member’s of the family’s household staff.

SEE The full ‘Spencer’ trailer ends with one killer line from Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana

The film’s look and feel, from the grandness of the sets and locations down to the meticulously detailed props and food designed and constructed by Dyas and his team attempts to offer a telling glimpse into the mindset of a despondent and isolated Diana, desperate to end her loveless marriage and break free from the British royal family. “We used all sorts of strange locations”, he explains, proudly proclaiming that “we had to think outside the box,” Dyas says. “We went all out with the food. Literally, I have never spent more time and more effort and more of my departments funding on experimentation with food!”

The film has an austere, uneasy dream-like quality as it contemplates what Diana may have been feeling in the lead up to her decision to leave Charles. Throughout the film, the walls seem like they are closing in on her as Diana feels increasingly alone and suffocated by the family who glare at her from across ornate and uninviting dining rooms and halls.

“Pablo talked about Diana as the People’s Princess and about how she was very accessible and yet she was in this world and at a time when the royals were still very closed in,” Dyas explains about the thinking behind creating the physical space they inhabit to feel bleak and to some extent strangely hostile. “She’s really the reason that we now have more accessibility to the royals. They realized they had to modernize and update, so we’re really visiting this family and this world in the last death throes of that level of elitist secrecy.”

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