“I’m somebody who’s been watching the Oscars forever,” declares Kristen Stewart when talking about what the Academy Awards mean to her. “But the lead-up looks really intense [and] it seems like a really involved, intense process and I never saw myself in it,” she admits, her voice hinting at genuine surprise that she is a newly-minted Oscar nominee. “I’m just excited to share that space, even if it renders me completely speechless, whether I’m onstage or off, I am looking forward to that energy. It’s a room full of people that I have revered my whole life, so it’s such a trip!” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Spencer,” directed by Chilean helmer Pablo Larraín, offers a glimpse into the mindset of the late Princess Diana, desperate to break free from her life as an outsider in the British royal family. Stewart stars in the Neon film as Diana, who grapples with ending her loveless marriage to Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) on a cold December morning in 1991 against the backdrop of the royal family’s 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 in the lead 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 Oscar buzz was building for Stewart’s compelling performance as the troubled princess, which takes center stage throughout the film. She stars alongside a strong supporting cast including Timothy Spall, Sean Harris and previous Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins, all of whom play key member’s of the family’s household staff.
“I really just didn’t think that I was going to receive a nomination and I didn’t set an alarm for it, I kind of just was like at some point I will wake up and then we will know,” Stewart recalls about the morning the Oscar nominations were announced. “My phone exploded at some point and I looked at it and I just had 50 messages and I was truly stunned by it. I’ve been doing this for a long time, like I just never kind of imagined myself here, it’s blowing my mind actually!”
Now that Stewart is slowly getting used to being a first-time Oscar nominee, she’s taking it all in, enjoying the next few weeks before the big night on March 27. “The coolest thing is when people look at you and say ‘I’m so happy for you!’ It’s so unbelievably touching and moving,” she reveals.
As she turns to revisiting her experience portraying such a well-known public persona, Stewart suggests it was the way in which director Larraín and writer Steven Knight framed the story as a “vicarious” glimpse into Diana’s state of mind from her subjective perspective that helped ground her portrayal rather than veering into caricature. As “Spencer” is introduced onscreen as “a fable from a true tragedy,” the film puts the audience on notice that it is not just a another biopic about the people’s princess as such, but rather a fictionalized rendering of a private moment in the life of a very public figure.
“The script was so precise, but never particular, like it didn’t try to dictate anything, it never tried to answer any questions,” she explains. “It was so well researched and so well dreamt of that when I tore through all of my research, I found even though this is an imagined feeling — kind of a nightmare, kind of a dream — we don’t know her, we will never know her, and the mystery of her is what makes you lean in.” For Stewart, this is ultimately “a story about a woman who needed to break free. It’s absolutely about Diana Spencer, but it’s also about us. It’s like, if you can’t speak, if you are muzzled, if you are not free to express yourself, you implode.”
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