Pablo Larrain’s Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, is set to begin shooting in Germany tomorrow (January 28) with Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins and Sean Harris joining the cast.
Filming in the UK will take place after the German shoot and an autumn 2021 launch for the film is anticipated. 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death.
A first-look at the US actress, best known for her leading role in the Twilight franchise, has been released, which was taken during hair, make-up and costume tests.
Stewart is also known for winning a Cesar award for Clouds of Sils Maria – the first US actress to be awarded the honour – in 2015, and more recently starred in biopic Seberg, big-budget reboot Charlie’s Angels and genre thriller Underwater.
Bafta-nominee Spall, Oscar-nominee Hawkins and Harris are understood to be playing fictional characters, with no word yet on who will play the other members of the Royal Family.
Spencer will take place over three days at the UK’s Sandringham estate during Christmas 1991 as Diana comes to realise her marriage into the Royal Family has failed and she needs to change her life. The Prince and Princess of Wales separated in 1992 and were divorced in 1996. She died in a traffic accident in Paris in 1997.
Spencer was a hot project when introduced at the Cannes virtual market last June and US rights were snapped up by Neon, distributor of Oscar-winner Parasite, and Topic Studios in a deal with CAA Media Finance and Endeavor Content worth a reported $4m. STXinternational will distribute the film in the UK, France, Italy and Benelux and DCM will distribute in Germany.
FilmNation Entertainment handles international sales and sold out all key territories out of Cannes. Other territories sold include Australia/NZ (Roadshow), Latin America, Spain and Portugal (Sun), South Korea (Green Narae), Japan (Tohokushina), Scandinavia (Scanbox), Canada (Elevation), CIS/Baltics (Central Partnership), Eastern Europe (Forum), Middle East (Italia), Singapore (Shaw), Greece/Cyprus (Spentzos), Hong Kong (Golden Scene), India/Pakistan (Impact Films India), Israel (Lev), Turkey (FilmArti), South Africa (Empire), Taiwan (Moviecloud) and Thailand (M Pictures).
Larraín previously directed Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in Venice 2016 premiere Jackie and more recently directed Chilean drama Ema. The screenplay has been written by Steven Knight, whose credits include Eastern Promises, Peaky Blinders and Locke.
Larraín’s creative team includes director of photography Claire Mathon (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran (Little Women, Anna Karenina), make up and hair designer Wakana Yoshihara (Murder On The Orient Express) and production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas (Passengers, Inception). Composing the original score is Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood (Phantom Thread).
Larraín will produce Spencer with his brother and Fabula partner Juan de Dios Larraín, along with Jonas Dornbach and Janine Jackowski for Komplizen Film, and Paul Webster for Shoebox Films.
In a joint statement, the director and producers described the feature as ”an independently produced film made for the big screen about an iconic woman’s own declaration of independence”.
Stewart said: ”‘Spencer is a dive inside an emotional imagining of who Diana was at a pivotal turning point in her life. It is a physical assertion of the sum of her parts, which starts with her given name; Spencer. It is a harrowing effort for her to return to herself, as Diana strives to hold onto what the name Spencer means to her.”
Executive producers are Tom Quinn, Jeff Deutchman and Christina Zisa for Neon and Michael Bloom, Maria Zuckerman and Ryan Heller for Topic Studios.
Spencer is supported by the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Board (FFA), Film- und Medienstiftung NRW and HessenFilm und Medien.