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Naomi Watts Replaces Jessica Chastain As Princess Diana In Oliver Hirschbiegel's Biopic 'Caught In Flight'

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by Oliver Lyttelton
February 9, 2012 7:16 AM
6 Comments
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It's almost impressive at this point that we've gotten this far down the line (nearly fifteen years after her death) without some kind of film focusing on the life of Princess Diana, the ill-fated tabloid sweetheart who married Prince Charles, the heir to the English throne, only for the marriage to swiftly disintegrate. They divorced in 1995, and Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris two years later (the events of which are depicted in Stephen Frears' "The Queen," in which Diana only appears via archive footage.)

But the last couple of years have started to see movement on various projects, with names like Charlize Theron, Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson and, more recently, Carey Mulligan, bandied about as possibilites to play the late Queen of Hearts. But the most concrete news came last year, when it was announced that Oliver Hirschbiegel, the German helmer of "Downfall," would direct "Caught In Flight," which would focus on Diana's affair with Pakistani heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan, and that woman of the moment Jessica Chastain was in talks to take the lead role.

However, word has been quiet since then, and when we spoke to Chastain in Marrakech in December, the actress told us that "when you're playing a real person you have to be as absolutely aware and  educated as you can be on their life and that you're telling the right story in the right way. So all of us involved in this project are looking to make sure that if and when it happens, it will be with great respect... it's a huge risk, which makes me want to do it more, but I also want to make sure it's the right story."

Well, it looks like her doubts couldn't be assuaged, as Deadline report from the market in Berlin that Chastain is out. Fortunately, they haven't downgraded too far (or at all), as backers Ecosse Films ("Wuthering Heights") have announced that Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts has stepped into the role for the project, which is penned by Stephen Jeffreys ("The Libertine").

While it's a shame that Chastain's packed schedule (she's about to film Kathryn Bigelow's Bin Laden movie) wasn't able to accomodate the project, we're glad that Watts has found a lead role, particularly as some of her more recent turns ("Dream House," "J. Edgar") have been somewhat thankless. But with this, and "The Impossible" and "The Grandmothers" on the way, things are certainly looking up. Filming should get underway in the U.K. late in the year.

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6 Comments

  • Oogle monster | February 9, 2012 4:08 PMReply

    Chastain mentioned she was still doing this during the Vanity Fair cover shoot interview. Wasn't that pretty recent? As much as I don't mind Watts as an actor, I don't think she possesses the same natural charisma and on screen presence as Chastain. As for the other names mentioned- Keira Knightley might have worked, Scarlett looks nothing like Diana and no amount of prosthetics can hide the fact that she's much more of a sex pot than a serious actress, Charlize is way way way too attractive and this isn't a role that requires an immense physical transformation though she certainly has the acting chops and I would love to see her in another Oscar-bait role. Hmmm who else... Mulligan, no. I don't see her as Daisy Buchanan and I certainly don't see her as Diana, plus she is much younger than Princess Di at the time these events took place. So, I guess Watts is ok but it should be Chastain.

  • Edward Davis | February 9, 2012 4:55 PM

    *Ding ding* DFSSDF is correct.

  • dfssdf | February 9, 2012 4:21 PM

    The Vanity Fair cover came out recently, but it was likely shot weeks/months ago.

  • Chase | February 9, 2012 11:50 AMReply

    Chastain had the looks, the chops, the everything. Watt's? As great as an actress she is, talk about a downgrade in every department...

  • Melody | July 22, 2012 1:15 AM

    Downgrade? Surely your buttons broke and you meant UPgrade.

  • n | February 9, 2012 7:27 AMReply

    Please Jessica , don't drop out of so many movies, I want to see you in every single movie made from this day on, quite selfish, I know :D

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