This story about “The Crown” star Emma Corrin first appeared in the Race Begins issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
Emma Corrin joined the cast of “The Crown” during its most recent season in the role of the late, beloved Diana Spencer. Her addition to Peter Morgan’s Netflix drama brought viewers into Princess Diana’s world of confusion and frustration as they were sorting through their own confusion and frustration amid the pandemic.
TheWrap: Do you think “The Crown” had a bigger impact this season, due to its release during the pandemic?
I feel like we’re never going to know what the reason was, but I think that definitely has something to do with it. I mean, I know that I watched an insane amount of television this year. I think it was an incredible testament to how important, how crucial, really, TV can be. That was our lens to the outside world—that was how we got through, I guess. If you think about how we started the year when everyone’s obsessed with “Tiger King” and all that, and we ended on “Queen’s Gambit,” which I was obsessed with. And I guess for a lot of people, “The Crown.”
It really just hit home how important television is and how much it means to a lot of people. And it was incredible to be a part of that, really. I think we just did engage more with what was coming out of our TVs, because that was all we had.
Your portrayal of Diana was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews. What was that like for you, given the gravity of what you were taking on?
It’s always so strange when something you’ve worked on is released, especially in this industry where you film it and then it’s a good six, seven months later—or sometimes even more than that—that it comes out. You feel weirdly so separate from the job and the character and the day-to-day-ness of actually going in and becoming this person. You’ve kind of moved on, and then everyone starts to engage. And if people really respond to something that you’ve worked really hard on, it is always the most wonderful feeling—because when I’m becoming a character, and especially with “The Crown,” I become so fond of the person that I brought to life, my version of her. And it meant so much, all the wonderful comments that I got.
Our continued obsession with the British royal family was only amplified this year with the exit of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. What is it like for you to know that Harry and Meghan are apparently among your viewers?
It’s really interesting. Personally, I try not to engage with it because I feel like it’s a slippery slope and if I start worrying about who’s seen it and what they think, it becomes stressful. But I sit comfortably in the knowledge that what we’ve created is Peter’s version of things. So hopefully, it’s its own thing. But in a way, I suppose it can never be completely detached from the reality that it touches and that it’s influenced by.
What was your final scene as Diana, and what did it feel like to end your portrayal on that note?
We were cut short because of the pandemic. My final scene would actually have been in the Alps, in Spain, which we were so looking forward to, because we were filming the skiing stuff. But we were shut down two weeks early. So I didn’t know it was going to be my last scene when it was my last scene, which maybe was a good thing, because it didn’t mean I got very emotional. But I remember it was bizarre because it was just as everything was sort of shutting down.
And I don’t think it actually made it into the series, but Diana was at a cocktail party—it was that scene where she comes down the stairs in that white bolero jacket and the long gown. I think it was meant to be New York. She’s in New York, but we filmed it in London on top of one of the huge skyscrapers. There was a scene where Diana walked out onto the roof garden, and they wanted me to look over the horizon. They were going to CGI in New York. It was bizarre because I was standing on the roof and they were playing this emotional music to try and get me to be emotional. And I remember finding it really strange that there were no planes in the sky, because normally in London, there are planes all the time. I remember being like, “Whoa, it feels like the world has shut down.” And that was literally just before we went into lockdown.
I remember standing at the top of this skyscraper on this roof garden with this emotional Italian music blaring, and feeling like I could have been the only person in the world. It was really bizarre, looking back. Kind of insane that was what I ended on.
Read more from the Race Begins issue here.