‘The Crown’ Almost Cast Elizabeth Debicki in a Different Role Before Making Her Princess Diana | Video

The actress did a “very, very nervous” audition for a different role on Season 2 of the show — and got passed on via email

Elizabeth Debicki’s portrayal of Princess Diana in the final two seasons of “The Crown” almost didn’t happen, she told Emma Corrin, who played Diana in the show’s fourth season. Debicki previously auditioned for another role in the series, she said in the Actors on Actors session for Variety. “I’ve never told anyone what the role is because the person who did it was so brilliant,” Debicki began.

Debicki didn’t reveal the role she auditioned for, but based on the information she provided, it’s possible that she auditioned for the role of Jackie Kennedy. Jodi Balfour played the role in the episode “Dear Mrs. Kennedy” during the show’s second season, which covers 1956-1964.

“In ‘The Crown’ there are cameos that pop up and the whole episode becomes about that person that might only appear for one or two,” she continued. “So it was, in that sense, a big role, but I was very almost completely physically wrong about it.”

The actress later added that she “got halfway through” one scene in her audition while she was “very, very nervous.” When she went in, “I did a bit, and it wasn’t nearly… oh, I don’t know. But anyway, I then got an email, I think a few days later from my agent saying, ‘Not that part, but we’re thinking about [Princess Diana].’”

The email was “very vague,” she continued. “I guess they must have felt something Diana in it,” which she found to be ironic. “Not only was I not playing [Diana], well, I wasn’t an English person even. I was like, ‘Oh God.’” Debicki is an Australian actress.

She continued to watch the show, the later Diana continued, and would sometimes wonder if she would ever hear back. When Corrin was cast for Season 4, Debicki assumed the show wouldn’t extend further than the previously announced fifth season and Corrin would likely retain the role throughout.

“I went really because ‘The Crown’ Season 1 had just aired and it was huge,” Debicki explained. “Do you remember when it first—”

“I remember where I was when I first watched it,” Corrin interjected. “I was in my second year of uni in my tiny single bed in an attic somewhere … I remember loving it, I thought it was well-written and I hadn’t really seen anything like it before.”

Auditioning for one character and playing another — and playing Princess Diana to boot — is something Debicki and Corrin have in common. Corrin told Debicki that she “went in, I think, for a chambermaid — a real ‘Tree No. 2’ kind of role.”

“I went in for that and never heard anything,” she added. Corrin was later called back to read with other actresses who auditioned for the role of young Camilla, now the unlikely queen of England. Corrin had a strategy at that point, she told Debicki. “But it’s what you were saying. It was kind of a perfect situation. Because it wasn’t an audition, so I didn’t really need to learn the lines, which meant the pressure was off, so I kind of did.”

From there, Corrin auditioned with casting director Robert Sterne, director Ben Caron and the show’s creator, Peter Morgan. The trio asked if she could sing “All I Ask Of You” from “Phantom of the Opera,” the same song Diana once performed as an anniversary gift to then-Prince Charles. Corrin did a duet of the song with Sterne.

Debicki and Corrin also discussed the visual splendor the show offered. “I remember sort of being bathed in just the scenes, and just, I mean, to be frank, the amount of money that was on-screen was extraordinary,” Debicki said.

The acting impressed both stars. “I’d never seen Claire Foy in anything, so she was like this incredible discovery,” Debicki continued. “And I was very good friends with Vanessa Kirby, who played Margaret, so I watched it because it was a new show and then I was completely hooked.”

You can watch the entire interview with Debicki and Corrin in the video above.


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