Diana on film: The many actresses who played a princess

Diana on film: The many actresses who played a princess

Many actresses have attempted to embody Diana, Princess of Wales on screen, few with much success.

As the 20th anniversary of her death approaches (Diana was killed in a Paris car crash on August 31, 1997), here are some of the most memorable performances and films.

Naomi Watts – Diana (2013)

Naomi Watts as Diana (Laurie Sparham/Ecosse Films)

This biopic was by far the highest profile film about Diana, focusing on her affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Dr Hasnat Khan.

But Oliver Hirschbiegel’s film was universally panned and seemed doomed from the start.

The film was originally meant to be called Caught In Flight and star Jessica Chastain but was later renamed and Chastain dropped out, with Naomi Watts stepping in.

The resulting film was savaged by critics, with The Guardian writing: “I hesitate to use the term ‘car crash cinema’, but the awful truth is that, 16 years after that terrible day in 1997, [Diana] has died another awful death.”

Watts later admitted the film was a “sinking ship”.

Genevieve O’Reilly – Diana: Last Days Of A Princess (2007)

Genevieve O’Reilly in Diana: Last Days Of A Princess (Phil Fisk/Channel 5)

This Channel 5 film, made for the tenth anniversary of Diana’s death, combined documentary footage and interviews with re-enactments from actors.

While O’Reilly did not look or sound much like the royal, she powered through the dubious dialogue and acquitted herself well.

Serena Scott Thomas – Diana: Her True Story (1993)

Diana: Her True Story (Martin Poll Productions)

The World Is Not Enough star Serena Scott Thomas starred in this TV movie in 1993, which attempted to tell the story of Diana at the time her marriage to the Prince of Wales was breaking down.

It was based on Andrew Morton’s biography and starred Shameless actor David Threlfall as Charles.

It wasn’t Scott Thomas’s only brush with royal biopics, she also played Carole Middleton in 2011’s William & Kate, about the courtship between Kate and William.

Amy Seccombe – Diana: A Tribute To The People’s Princess (1998)

Amy Seccombe and George Jackos as Diana and Dodi (Michael Stephen/PA)

Released just a year after her death,  this movie tells the story of Diana’s last year.

It called upon Amy Seccombe to re-enact some very famous images from that year and alleged she was about to accept a proposal of marriage from Dodi Al Fayed before she died.

Lesley Harcourt – William & Catherine (2011)

Lesley Harcourt in William & Catherine (Hallmark)

The Hallmark movie William & Catherine, A Royal Love Story focused on the relationship between William and Kate.

Although Diana died long before the couple met, she makes an appearance in the film, played by Lesley Harcourt, as William watches a videotaped interview she gave before her death in the opening scene.

Caroline Bliss – Charles And Diana: A Royal Love Story (1982)

Charles And Diana: A Royal Love Story (Edward S. Feldman Company/IFS Video)

This American dramatisation of the July 1981 wedding of Charles to Lady Diana Spencer starred Caroline Bliss as the young princess-to-be.

She later went on to star as Miss Moneypenny in Bond films The Living Daylights and Licence To Kill.

Julie Cox – Princess In Love (1996)

Princess In Love (CBS)

This TV movie, again made for a US audience, stars Julie Cox opposite Christopher Villiers as Captain James Hewitt.

The film is based on Hewitt’s book and tells the story of their relationship.

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