A version of this story about “The Crown” and Emma Corrin appears in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.
In Princess Diana’s infamous television interview with Martin Bashir, the late wife of Prince Charles revealed that there were “three of us in this marriage,” referring to Charles’ mistress (and now wife) Camilla Parker Bowles. And in filming Season 4 of Netflix’s “The Crown,” Emma Corrin, who portrayed Diana Spencer, took those words to heart during their performance.
Of course, that became even easier to do once director Benjamin Caron decided to bring together Corrin, Emerald Fennell (who played Bowles) and Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles) to prep for a scene that would only include Fennell and Corrin — because he wanted the three-person marriage to be felt by Corrin in full during Diana’s uncomfortable lunch with Camilla.
“It was one of the scenes we rehearsed quite a lot, because there was a very specific dynamic,” said Corrin, whose nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series was one of 24 for “The Crown,” tied with “The Mandalorian” for the most noms. “So how (Caron) did it was, he brought me and Emerald into a room and sat us down at either side of a table with loads of desserts. And he also brought Josh to the table. It was so funny. He asked us that any time we felt like we had the power in the conversation, to take Josh’s hand. Basically, the whole rehearsal was Emerald holding Josh’s hand and me trying to get my hand in there, which was so funny. Then to film it was amazing. It was a really intense scene — so much going on, so many dynamics.”
Corrin carried that feeling of Camilla’s presence throughout many moments between Charles and Diana in the Peter Morgan-created series. “A world was created as if there was sort of a third person there anyway, as Diana put it,” Corrin said. “In my prepping for the scenes, I just always tried to bear in mind that (Diana) would be thinking, ‘Has he seen her recently?’”
Covering 1979 through 1991, Season 4 of “The Crown” — which also landed noms for Outstanding Drama Series and for Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II, Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, as well as Fennell and O’Connor — includes the births and early childhoods of Diana and Charles’ sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. Though Corrin’s onscreen relationship with O’Connor was cold and distant, their time spent with the children who played Diana’s sons was full of the warm feelings Corrin imagines Diana herself experienced as a mother.
“We all know that family was incredibly important to her, just based on the way she was publicly with the boys,” Corrin said. “Something that really struck me reading her biographies and stuff that she talked about publicly was how isolated and lonely she felt in her own childhood. So I think that, similar to Charles, she really wanted that sense of having a family, a sense of belonging. I think it was no surprise that motherhood was something she loved. I think it was also a way of feeling like she had a purpose and she was so loved, because that was something she really struggled with feeling in her own family.”
Still, Corrin’s Diana had the task of continuously trying to break through to Charles and the royal family in the only way the royal knew how: with a “liveliness” of love.
“People always thought of her as such a people person, and the way she interacted with the public, that really came across,” Corrin said. “But weirdly, she struggled to be like that with Charles because the royal family was so unwelcoming of that kind of behavior—the generosity of spirit, I suppose. I think you really see it when she does Charles’ birthday present with the dance and the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ bit. She has a completely different way of expressing emotion and communicating, and he just doesn’t get it. He can’t process it. But the only way she knows how to communicate is by that liveliness of spirit and that fun.”
This story about “The Crown” and Emma Corrin first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.