‘I cannot do this’: Elizabeth Debicki on the prospect of portraying Diana

Elizabeth Debicki has revealed she “would stand over the kitchen sink and say, ‘I cannot do this'” after initially accepting the role of Diana, Princess of Wales in the upcoming series of The Crown.

The 32-year-old Australian actress will portray Diana in the fifth series of the hit Netflix drama, which is set to land later this month.

Speaking to British Vogue about being spooked at the prospect of playing Diana, Debicki said: “I think in the very beginning that did overwhelm me, the idea of this kind of collective (of Diana fans) out there.

“It’s a trap, right? A swampy quagmire.

“So, I would stand over the kitchen sink and say, ‘I cannot do this’.”

But after receiving the scripts, Debicki said she realised “This isn’t meta. These are characters”.

The Night Manager actress stars opposite Dominic West as the then Prince Charles in the upcoming series, as the pair take over the baton from Emma Corrin and Josh O’Connor, who previously starred as the royal couple.

Reflecting on filming in the now-infamous ‘revenge dress’ – an off the shoulder black evening gown designed by Christina Stambolian, which is believed to have been worn by Diana as a form of revenge after Charles, now the King, admitted to adultery on TV – Debicki said she spent time considering the deeper meaning behind the dress.

“It was pressure! It’s a complex dress,” she said.

Elizabeth Debicki has spoken to British Vogue about portraying Diana, Princess of Wales, in the upcoming series of The Crown (British Vogue/PA)
Elizabeth Debicki has spoken to British Vogue about portraying Diana, Princess of Wales, in the upcoming series of The Crown (British Vogue/PA)

“I let the fittings happen around me while I thought about what the dress meant.

“Why this dress? She’d had it for two or three years. It was super risque at the time.”

Diana wore the silk gown, accompanied by a large pearl necklace and pearl earrings to a 1994 fundraising dinner hosted by Vanity Fair magazine for the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington, London.

Debicki added: “She was claiming the space. The way she walked out of that car, the luminosity, the strength of her as that car door opened, she was so fast and so forward. It’s an extraordinary thing to watch.

“To decide what you’re saying about yourself through fashion… It was a currency. An incredibly powerful currency.”

Debicki also explained what she learnt about Diana after taking on her role and revealed the “ultimate goal” she hopes to have achieved with her portrayal.

She said: “I will say it’s a huge gift to learn what I’ve learnt about this person.

“In so many ways, it’s a story of immense transformation – and triumph too.

“The public got to watch her evolve into an incredibly strong woman, trying to control a narrative that was the slipperiest thing ever.”

Adding: “I hope I’ve done something interesting for her. That’s the ultimate goal.”

The full interview with Elizabeth Debicki is available in the December issue of British Vogue, on newsstands and via digital download from November 15.