The 24-year-old actress Emma Corrin has been earning rave reviews for her portrayal of the complex and iconic Princess Diana in the Netflix series The Crown. This comes after the latest series of The Crown, which follows the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, was released on Netflix on 15 November 2020.
During an interview with Glamour UK, the actress opens up about being hospitalised mid-filming, her own relationship with body image and why growing your body hair really isn’t a big deal.
Playing “an icon”
“I find the word icon, particularly in reference to Diana and with any woman we put on a pedestal, to be quite reductive,” Emma told Josh Smith while talking about becoming Diana, a role which went so much deeper than wearing a blonde wig, to working on and studying what Emma describes as “the psychological journey” of Diana with a movement coach.
“The label of icon ignores so much of who Diana was and her beautiful complexity. She was called the People’s Princess because people felt like they could relate to her. That is so much more important than any kind of label.”
Emma – who shares striking physical similarities to the late princess including wide blue eyes and that perfect ‘Diana head tilt’ – also refuses to adhere to labels, especially in beauty. “I think it’s interesting how the media and a lot of our culture loves to label or to pigeon-hole women,” she says. “How I present myself, what I do with my makeup, my body hair, my hair or anything aesthetically, will always be dictated by what I feel and nothing external.”
A memorable ‘proposal’
Everyone especially wants to know from Emma how she landed this role which is considered to be one of the “coveted roles on the planet”.
Shortly after graduating in 2018 from Cambridge University, Emma embarked on months of auditions for The Crown, which culminated in a memorable ‘proposal’, during staged chemistry reading with Prince Charles, played by Josh O’Connor. She said that as soon as she walked in the room, the show’s director, Benjamin Caron, surprised her by getting down on one knee and asking, ‘will you be our Diana?’ “It felt a bit like the world stood still for a second,” she recalls, beaming with pride.
Shooting in Spain
Shooting on location in Spain for two months was a highlight for Emma, but the trip ended dramatically. “I’m asthmatic and I had been ill for a while with a bad cough,” she recalls. “I had to film a scene in a freezing-cold swimming pool, with the kids playing William and Harry. It was honestly the hardest scene to film because I was genuinely keeping myself alive treading water, and also keeping five-year-old ‘Harry’ alive, as we found out he couldn’t swim! We were meant to be flying back that night to the UK, so we went past a hospital to get me antibiotics. The doctors gave me an oxygen test and said, ‘We cannot let you go because your oxygen levels are so low,’ so I was hospitalised. I remember the nurses, figuring out what I was filming and saying, ‘We know you’re playing Princess Diana, would you like us to put a cardboard bag over your head so no one recognises who you are?’ in broken English!”
A Gen-Z twist
Emma also shares the late Princess’ rebellious streak, but with a Gen-Z twist.
“I’ve been meaning to grow [my armpit hair] for quite a few years, but I’m recently single,” Emma reveals. “I haven’t done it before because I’ve been in a relationship and I guess I had been programmed to think that I should probably shave for the benefit of both parties. But f*ck it – I don’t really want to shave!” I realised, ‘why did I even bother?’ It’s been quite an underwhelming realisation of, there’s no drama in it. It’s just there. I’m hoping it’s on the path to becoming normal and it never has to be a thing you notice.”