Jessica Chastain cast as “damaged” Princess Diana in ‘Caught in Flight’

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YIKES. I had no idea that various production companies and studios felt like it was okay to make movies about Princess Diana’s life now, but apparently there are several Princess Diana projects in various stages of pre-production. So how do you cast one of the most famous women EVER, in the history of the world? Much like the Grace Kelly project, I would imagine that producers created a master list of blondes who have a passing resemblance to Diana: Charlize, January Jones, La Blanchett, perhaps. Incidentally, La Blanchett as Princess Diana? Epic. I would watch that.

Anyway, there’s a new film called Caught In Flight about one of Diana’s last romantic relationships, with Pakistani doctor Hasnat Kahn. Most of the books written about Diana – by the people who close to her and by those people who actually have a solid journalism background – consistently claim that Diana was deeply in love with Dr. Kahn in the last years of her life, and even when Kahn broke off their relationship in the months just before her death, Diana was still in love with him – and that she only went with Dodi Fayed to make Kahn jealous (which didn’t work). So who to cast as the 30-something Diana in love, at the height of her fame and beauty? Why, American ginger Jessica Chastain, of course. Oooooooh, the Brits are going to hate this one.

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It was just over a year ago that it was revealed that two rival Princess Diana biopics were in the works. One, from producer Stephen Evans, was going to be based on the book “Diana: Closely Guarded Secret” by Diana’s lifelong bodyguard, Ken Wharfe. The film was budgeted at $30 million, with boasts of Charlize Theron and Ewan McGregor circling roles. Meanwhile, Pathé films was also developing a biopic with names like Keira Knightley and Dame Helen Mirren (as the Queen Mother) being tossed around.

But it seems, a third project has now leapt into the pole position and it’s bringing along some surprising talent.

2011’s omnipresent Jessica Chastain will dye her hair and cut it short, taking the lead as Princess Diana in “Caught In Flight,” which is sure to be a highly controversial take on her life. Written by Steven Jeffreys (”The Libertine”), the film will focus on Diana’s affair with Dr. Hasnat Kahn that lasted from 1995 until a few months before her death in 1997. He was regarded by many to be the love of her life, and she was said to be devastated when the relationship was over, with some speculating that she dated Dodi Fayed in order to make him jealous. And indeed, the script “Caught In Flight” will apparently portray the Princess “as a damaged person who stalks the doctor after he ends the affair.”

No stranger to tough material, “Downfall” and “Das Experiment” director Oliver Hirschbiegel will direct the film which is already in pre-production. Lensing is gearing up to start in March, with shooting planned for Pakistan, Angola, the South of France and Paris for the film budgeted around $15 million.

It’s certainly a big gear change for Chastain, who will have to wear a British accent for the first time onscreen, in addition to undergoing a complete transformation into a public figure known and beloved by millions. With this picture, the sci-fi spectacle “Horizons” and the Guillermo Del Toro produced horror “Mama” on the way, Chastain refuses to be pigeonholed, with her upcoming roles among her most interesting yet.

[From Indie Wire]

Diana “as a damaged person who stalks the doctor after he ends the affair.” Er… seriously? Yes, she was still in love with Kahn, by most accounts. Yes, she wanted to marry him. Yes, she might have even gone to see Kahn’s family in Pakistan as a “surprise” which he didn’t care for. Yes, Kahn didn’t want all of the drama and attention that Diana brought to everything – at the end of the day, he ended up marrying a no-drama Muslim girl too. And yes, Diana had some issues, but I don’t care for the idea that she was “damaged”. Rough. Let’s not throw around the word “stalking” either. Jesus, the lady is dead.

As for Chastain in the role – I’m concerned, but I don’t flat-out hate it. Jessica is sort of becoming a mini-Blanchett, or a mini-Meryl Streep, and she’s everywhere and she does everything. So I’ll wait and see what she makes of the part.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

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34 Responses to “Jessica Chastain cast as “damaged” Princess Diana in ‘Caught in Flight’”

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  1. Eve says:

    Physically, Chastain looks like a plausible choice to me. But can she pull off the English accent?

  2. sundaygal says:

    She looks more like Justin Bieber’s accuser than Princess Diana.

  3. Talie says:

    Diana was incredibly damaged, psychologically. I mean, the reason William probably has some issues is because he was his mother’s confidante from the age of, like, 4.

  4. Alejandro says:

    Jessica was wonderful in The Help and I’ve heard she’s great in The Tree of Life, I’m sure she’ll be able to pull this off.

  5. iseepinkelefants says:

    In that first picture she looks rough, but the rest… maybe she could pull it off. How is she on looking through her lashes (you know in that way Diana looked) because that will cinch it.

    As for turning her into some psycho stalker ala Glen Close, no. It’s tacky. Even if the claims were true, it’s in bad taste. Her sons are alive after all.

    And maybe a lawyer can enlighten me but why is that when people make biopics we always hear about the family signing off on it, but with Diana you never hear “William and Harry gave the go ahead”?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sure Diana had issues because of her parents’ divorce, but I am getting tired of words like “damaged” being used to describe her. Happens all the time in articles comparing her to Waity.

    It’s as if the Royal Family can lift some of the blame off their shoulders by saying Diana was a nutcase. If I recall, Diana herself pointed this out in the panorama interview.

  7. Miffits says:

    To be honest I think any aspect of Diana’s life being made into film is tacky. It must be so painful for her sons.

  8. iseepinkelefants says:

    Miffits – especially if it’s casting her in a negative light. I’m not for rewriting history, but I think all of Diana’s good far out shown the mental anguish that plauged her during her time before and during the Royal family. If they really want to delve into that maybe do when her sons are no longer here? I’m mean geez do you really think Harry likes to hear how his mother thought of killing herself and him while she was pregnant with him?

  9. iseepinkelefants says:

    On a side note, I’m watching the Beautician and the Beast right now so it’s got me thinking of the Nanny, but does anyone remember Maggie (the daughter)? I always thought she looked like Diana. I don’t know what she looks like today but she was her perfect doppelganger back then.

  10. lin234 says:

    This is beyond tacky. She wasn’t perfect but that’s also why she appealed to so many people. Despite her background, wealth, fame, etc. all she ever really wanted was love.

  11. Denise says:

    As a Brit, I am not loving the choice, but not hating it either. Chastain is a decent character actress and with the right hair, makeup and clothes, she could pull it off. I agree that Blanchett should have a shot, I could rally around that no problem.

  12. Juliesunflower says:

    Diana was not damaged and this project is a farce. Is this a ploy to rubbish her memory ?

  13. Delta Juliet says:

    @sundaygal

    I thought the EXACT same thing!

  14. Lantana says:

    No picture of Pakistani doctor Hasnat Kahn?
    (Edit) well that took 2 seconds…googled and there are a lot of links. Here’s 1. http://www.topnews.in/people/dr-hasnat-khan He must have a great personality.

  15. MissyA says:

    Wow. The plot hits a little too close to home for my comfort level. . .

  16. bluhare says:

    @sundaygal, Delta Juliet: Me three!!

  17. teehee says:

    Its always so greast and still exciting to see pics of Diana posted — even though Ive probaby seen them all and she is long gone, there is still a magic to her that will never cease :D

  18. Nymeria says:

    “Yes, Kahn didn’t want all of the drama and attention that Diana brought to everything – at the end of the day, he ended up marrying a no-drama Muslim girl too.”

    He divorced the Muslim woman & has since remarried.

    Diana was damaged – who isn’t, in some form or fashion? (The people she married into were / are all damaged, too.) Still, what counts is that she did wonderful things for charities & worthy causes (her motives don’t matter in this context), & I don’t see the point of making this film. To publicise her relationship with Dr. Khan? To make the case that she was mental? Why? If people really want to explore these angles, there are plenty of “Diana books” written just to explore these aspects of her life & personality. No need to make an expensive Hollywood production out of it.

  19. Linnie says:

    Strange looking back at the Diana photos. She wasn’t actually as pretty as I remember.

  20. wunder says:

    Who could marry Charles and NOT end up damaged???
    Poor thing was forced to look directly at his horse twat face. Ghastly!

    (btw: When is the paranormal interview??? I’d tune in for that!)

  21. ruby says:

    I like Jessica Chastain. With proper styling she wouldn’t look unlike Diana. Actually, I think they could have chosen a lot worse (like Charlize Theron, ugh). The only complaint I would have is that, well, an american actress for Diana… It is a pity. Oh well, we can’t have everything.

  22. Julia says:

    Diana was very much damaged. She has been suffering for most of her life image problems, was boulimic and anorexic and was seeing a shrink recurrently.

    She married as avirgin with basicly no experience a man who wasn’t in love with her and she was devastated and traumatoized.

    Then came the lovers, the hysteria crisis every time her husband was sneaking the home to see his lover and the cries in front of her elder son.

    So yeah, she was a very damaged young woman who was to sensitive to be marry in a convenient union.

  23. Kara Ann says:

    @#19 Nymeria,

    I so agree with your post re: most of us are “damaged” in some way. I think the whole point is that some manage to keep trying to improve themselves and/or their situations. I find Diana to be very motivating in that even with her personal problems/mistakes on the front of tabloids every day, she didn’t give up on life. She was still seeking love, happiness, and personal fulfillment. To me, that speaks to her character and to her indomitable spirit.

    Yes, I will always unapologetically love Princess Diana, in case you missed it!

  24. Turtle Dove says:

    Why is that when women who are free spirited and have their own ambitions outside of the establishment are called “damaged”? Is that like that by-gone way of calling a woman a hysteric if she got uppity with her husband.

    Blanchett would have been perfect for this, but I guess she can’t be in everything…

  25. Alexa says:

    Amen Turtledove! I’m totally offended by the ‘”damaged” Princess Diana’ statement! wtf???

  26. badrockandroll says:

    I don’t think that Diana was free-spirited at all, although I will grant the ambitious part, so if one has to choose a camp, I’d go for damaged.

    I also don’t get the concern for her kids if this biography is made – it’s not like they are young children, it’s not like the film is going into uncharted hypothetical territory (since her obsession with Dr Khan was well-known at the time, but sort of swept away by Dodi’s weird father and by the deification process that occured after she died too young and too violently), it’s not like biopics of persons with living relatives are rare things,(anyone care about Albert’s feelings if Princess Grace’s pre-marriage sluttiness and post-wedding unhappiness and drinking is part of her announced biopic?) and it’s not like this is the first one made of Diana (remember the awful one with the grapefruit tool suicide attempt and with Charles mocking her bulimia?). Heck, William has even been the subject of his own made for tv quickie after his engagement.

    I think that a lot of Diana’s appeal is that she did good works and was charming despite being a manipulative trainwreck personally, and part of Catherine’s lack of appeal is that she is boringly well-adjusted and well prepared to live in the fishbowl.

  27. DemoCat says:

    Um, not to be a nag, but it’s “Khan,” not “Kahn.” Last I checked, Dr. Khan is not Jewish. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

  28. The Original Mia says:

    I won’t be watching this movie. Why in the hell is it even being made? Sounds like a made-for-TV movie on Lifetime.

    Diana wasn’t perfect, but then who is?

  29. badrockandroll says:

    @Wunder: it was Panorama, a Brit interview show. She did it against all advice, to explain “her side”. It was the first time she said that she wanted to be the Queen of Hearts, and that there were three people in her marriage (four really, but she forgot to count James Hewitt.) She was magnificently sorrowful and bewildered. It really was viewed as a declaration of war, and it caused Charles to do an equally ill-advised one too (but at least he didn’t repeat his desire to be Camilla’s tampon, he did that years earlier in a tapped telephone conversation). I can’t believe you guys don’t want a movie reliving all this smut!

  30. Nymeria says:

    @ badrockandroll (#31) – Patrick Jephson, Di’s private secretary, stated that he came up with the phrase “Queen of Hearts” for Diana. (The Panorama interview apparently prompted his resignation, as Diana hadn’t consulted him about it beforehand.)

    Charles did his television interview with ITN in June of 1994. Di did hers with Panorama in late 1995.

  31. Sunny says:

    @ Julia – Perhaps Diana was “damaged” in many ways, but I think this is why so many people loved her. She was human, she tried to do positive things with her life and her status, and she desperately wanted love in her life. Now days what celebrity isn’t “damaged”, but so few admit to it. Diana actually called out the entire royal family and tried to stand up for herself and what she went through. I”m not fond of a movie made about her being a stalker or just mentally ill, but how about the fact that yes, she had struggles in her life but she achieved some wonderful things. She didn’t make a name for herself by posing nude, acting like a fool or releasing sex tapes. How about giving credit to someone for once for behaving like a lady, who handled themselves with dignity and class, made some poor decisions, but ultimately just wanted to be a good person?

  32. midnightmoon says:

    i think kiera knightley is just the perfect age, has a look that can be adapted to diana’s at various ages, and is british enough to get Diana’s very distinctive delivery down pat. diana was mercurial-that was part of her mystery. she was funny, shy, brash, ballsy, and so many other words. i am sure she was borderline personality (many people with harsh childhoods end up with this). it is an untreatable condition-and those who suffer from it are frequently overreactive and inconsolable. they fluctuate back & forth between “everything’s ok” and “it’s the end of the world”. you can’t really ‘REACH’ them, and worst of all, they have no clue how to help themselves from one state to another. my sister suffers from this condition, and i knew pretty well what Diana was going through, during her later years, due to my own experiences with my dear sis. it’s a rough row to hoe.