Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood on why Diana drama Spencer is like a ‘horror film’

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Jonny Greenwood, who composed the score for Spencer, has said the new film about Diana, Princess of Wales, will be unlike The Crown and will use “paranoia and oppression” in a manner similar to a horror movie.

The Radiohead guitarist, who has previously provided the soundtracks for films such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread and Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, used an orchestra of jazz and baroque musicians to create “a level of chaos” in the score.

The film, from Chilean director Pablo Larrain, is set over a weekend in the early 1990s when Diana, played by Kristen Stewart, joined the royal family for Christmas at the Queen’s Sandringham estate.

It imagines what might have happened over those few days, when her marriage to the Prince of Wales has gone cold but she is still obliged to join the family festivities.

Greenwood, 49, told the PA news agency he was attracted to the project because it was “darker and stranger than most films about the royals seem to be”.

He added: “I think Pablo is careful to call it a fable based on a real princess.

“What will people think? It’s not The Crown. There’s lots of claustrophobic handheld camera action following her around and you feel straightaway that this is not as easy a viewing experience as something like The Crown. It is just doing something different.”

Greenwood said he began by looking at the music Diana liked, but decided it was a “dead end” when it led him to artists such as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Dire Straits.

He said: “But then you realise the music didn’t have to be part of her, it just needed to describe that situation and describe the oppression she feels in this three days she is in this palace in Sandringham.

“It’s a bit like a horror film in a way. There are all these sinister servants loitering under stairs and there is this feeling of paranoia and oppression. The music was meant to enhance that.”

Kristen Stewart stars as Diana
Kristen Stewart as Diana in Spencer (Fabula Films/Komplizen Film/Shoebox Films/PA)

To record the score, Greenwood used a jazz band and a baroque orchestra simultaneously.

“That was just about trying to get a level of chaos into the music, to accompany the quite staid and traditional framework of baroque music which would hopefully reflect what royal life was like for her,” he said.

“There wasn’t much freedom in her life I think.”

Oxford-born Greenwood also praised Stewart for her performance as Diana.

“She does amazingly well,” he said.

“I think it is doubly difficult because when you see footage of Diana there is an element of it feeling like a performance.

“She is quite mannered in how she spoke but she completely is convincing. She convinced me.”

Others cast in the film, which is written by Peaky Blinders’ creator Steven Knight, include Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins and Sean Harris.

The Spencer soundtrack will be released on record label Mercury KX. The film premieres at the Venice Film Festival on September 3 and is due to be released in cinemas on November 5.

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