Naomi Watts cast as Princess Diana in new film: good or bad casting?

I have such mixed feelings about this casting choice. While I generally like Naomi Watts, I think she’s overhyped as an actress, and I get tired of people trying to make her “happen” as a lead actress. She’s pretty and talented, but there’s something so milquetoast about many of her performances post-Mulholland Drive. Naomi was just cast as Princess Diana in Caught in Flight, the bio-pic about the last two years of Diana’s life. I just… I don’t know. Jessica Chastain was originally cast as Diana, but she was either pushed out or she jumped out, and now Naomi is in there.

Naomi Watts will soon be morphing into the People’s Princess. The Oscar-nominated Australian actress, 43, has been cast as the late Princess Diana in Caught in Flight, an upcoming new biopic.

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and written by Stephen Jeffreys, the film will focus on the last two years in the life of Prince William and Harry’s beloved mother; after famously divorcing Prince Charles, Diana reinvented herself as a global humanitarian and was on the path to self-fulfillment before she died at age 36 in an August 1997 car crash.

“It is such an honor to be able to play this iconic role,” Watts said in a statement. “Princess Diana was loved across the world and I look forward to rising to the challenge of playing her on screen.”

Last November, it was rumored that Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, Tree of Life) was attached to Caught in Flight, which also focuses on Diana’s relationship with Dr. Hasnat Khan, said to be the love of her life.

Diana met Dr. Khan in 1995, and they embarked on a two-year affair — breaking up in 1997. Diana rebounded with billionaire Dodi Al-Fayed, who died with her in the tragic Paris car crash.

[From Us Weekly]

There’s a similar look to Naomi and Diana, and if this was just about aesthetics alone, I wouldn’t be too peeved. But is Naomi “light” enough to play Diana? Meaning that the last two years of Diana’s life were good for her – she was in love, she was rebranding herself, she was free of Charles – she’s was a spiritually “lighter” person. Naomi can only play “morose” and dark. I just went back and read the synopsis of the film, though – apparently, they’re going for “damaged”. Ugh. I’m worried about this film.

Vintage Diana – her last photo shoot with Mario Testino, still one of the best photo shoots ever.

Photos courtesy of WENN, archival Mario Testino images of Diana.

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47 Responses to “Naomi Watts cast as Princess Diana in new film: good or bad casting?”

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  1. Capella says:

    Love it!

    Better than any of those yawn actresses out there. I think they were pushing Diana Agron from Glee down our throats. Naomi is one hell of an actress, and I really like her.

    • Bermuda Blues says:

      I would’ve loved this casting too if it were 10 years ago. Naomi Watts is a capable actress, but she’s just TOO OLD FOR THE ROLE.

      Diana was young when she died. So much of her tragedy was how young, naive, and vulnerable she was when she came into the royal family. I think there is a big difference between the face of a 35 year old, and the face of a 43 year old. I oppose this casting for that reason.

      • Capella says:

        Odd, I find Naomi’s look young and fresh! It’s true that she had taken on roles that demand seriousness or constant despair in the past.

        But when she smiles, she has this very young quality about her, transformed. Also, most importantly, they had given the memory of Princess Diana a decent actress, not some wannabe with the right people promoting her. Don’t forget, there were Blake Lively, Diana Agron, and January Jones up for the role. More blah, and a frigid gang of blond actresses, you cannot find!

        Glad they went instead with a bit older, but a much more worthy actress.

  2. Asli says:

    I just know this film will not do Diana justice. Her legacy is well-preserved. Also, the people supporting and loving Diana would probably want to keep her as she was/is remembered. And also, Naomi Watts? Really? She isn’t exactly Emily Blunt-material (who was amazing in ‘The Young Victoria’). Huh. Guess they can’t find decent actresses to play icons i. e. Elizabeth Taylor played by Lindsay Lohan/Megan Fox? Whaaaaa?

  3. Rachel() says:

    I love Naomi Watts. Now that I’m thinking of it, Naomi for Princess Grace, too!

  4. Reece says:

    Why are they making a film about Diana at all? I don’t wanna see that.

  5. mia girl says:

    I’m not surprised that the film is more serious… I had read that she wasn’t all that “light” in those last years afterall. She wasn’t as happy as many of us would have thought.

  6. Aiobhan says:

    Honestly this sounds like a huge flop in the making. I have no problem with Naomi and when I see her in films I enjoy her but find that a lot of her films are forgettable. I may have checked it out for Chastain but now I will only watch if it comes out as a huge HBO production. I would not go to the theaters for it. I did the same for the Queen when that came out as well.

    The last two photos of Diana are stunning, just simply stunning in their awesomeness.

    • Lynnie says:

      Yeah, forget the film, but those photos of the princess… lovely.

      • Coucou says:

        i agree…brings tears to my eyes…what a horrible, senseless death. I will be pissed if they try to make her look bad or “damaged” in this film!

  7. JudyJudyJudy says:

    awful choice. terrible press release.

  8. HadleyB says:

    I loved how Diana was growing out that awful hair cut and she had roots! It made her look so much relaxed ….

    At least they got someone who can do an accent good because these days not too many American actors do accents that are even believable.

  9. raggedy says:

    Nothing against Naomi, she’s, blonde, beautiful & a good actress… but isnt it that she’s just too SHORT to play Princess Diana who’s around 5’10” or 5’11?!
    If that so, she’ll be wearing some “elevator shoes” then LOL

  10. spinner says:

    I think this is a good choice. Naomi is an accomplished actress & she will be able to nail & hold the British accent.

  11. normades says:

    I smell Oscar!

  12. dorothy says:

    Excited about this movie. Love her as an actress.

  13. jeanaire says:

    Dynasty’s “Catherine Oxenberg” once played Princess Diana in the 80’s and she suitedly played it well; probably it helps that Catherine is somewhat deadringer of the late Princess.

  14. lin234 says:

    I agree with the sentiment that she’s overhyped especially as a lead actress. I still feel it’s too soon to do a movie about Princess Diana. Especially with Naomi playing her.

    Part of Diana’s charm was how flawed she was even though she had the world at the palm of her hand.

  15. Azurea says:

    What makes those photos especially great is that she isn’t wearing all that fuddy-duddy jewellry she always sported.

  16. Marianne says:

    I can see it. I think Naomi will do fine.

    As for why a movie about Diana? Hello it’s oscar bait. The Queen was about well…the queen but also the aftermath on the death of Diana…and didnt Helen Mirren win? At least she was nominated. Like it or not, people are fascinated by the Royal’s and will buy into it. Plus, as I said there’s oscar potential.

    • Camille (The original) says:

      I agree. I think Naomi is a good fit for the role (although she is much prettier than Diana ever was IMO). She is a very good actress and the role sounds very ‘Oscar baity’.

  17. honeychurch says:

    Princess Di wasn’t light or fluffy. She’s was a narcissistic piece of work – hope that the film won’t be a glorifucation of her. I still think the best take on Princess Di was Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle’s joke about her. You can find it on YouTube. Hysterically funny.

    • Toshie says:

      Thank you honeychurch for the gift of Frankie Boyle – I hadn’t heard of him before and he is fantastic.

  18. Kim says:

    Great casting! I feel she is Hollywood’s most overlooked/underated actress. She is an Oscar caliber actress but doesnt seem to get the recognition she deserves.

  19. Kim says:

    I think Diana was damaged. I dont think she was light in any sense. She had eating disorders, cared way to much about fame, married a man she didnt know or love. She did good things – im not totally bagging but she was not the Hero people make her out to be by any means. She was no MLK! I like that this film is addressing that and not a fluff piece.

  20. lisa says:

    I don’t know. There was a sensual,sexy quality to Diana that Naomi Watts just doesn’t have.

  21. mln76 says:

    Eh it seems a bit TV movie-ish to me. Just let her RIP and wait another couple of decades. I have no beef with Naomi Watts though. She’s got talent and I am sure she’ll do well.

  22. NM6804 says:

    Watts is awesome! Low-key so her private life doesn’t distract me when I’m seeing her on screen, by all accounts she hates playing the game, is nice, down to earth… She’s aging naturally or very subtle. When I saw her in 21 Grams, I knew she was talented. I never doubt her, she’s amazeballs. One of the few famous people that ALWAYS get a pass from me forever.

  23. Happy21 says:

    Bad, bad, and more bad. I am not a fan of Naomi Watts. Not because she can’t act but because she is totally unremarkable.

    Side note – OMG its been a long time since I’ve seen photos of Princess Diana but wow was she ever beautiful. Stunning. Makes me sad that her life was cut short 🙁

    • molly says:

      As sad as her death was, im happy that she died when she did. She was at her happiest and most beautiful, and thats how she has stayed in most of our minds. Im sure that she would be happy about that as well. When you see a picture of Diana next to one of Camilla or Waity, neither will ever compare and it will only get worse as time goes on. Diana will always be that stunning women.

  24. AA1010 says:

    I like Naomi but I agree that she is way too short to play Princess Diana. I guess she’ll be standing on boxes.

  25. Beatriz says:

    God, Diana was so pretty. May she rest in peace.

  26. NinaG says:

    You know I can see her as Diana, once they cut or give her a lace front as Diana real hair was, I think it will be great!

  27. CN says:

    I like Naomi, but I don’t think this film should be made yet. I hope William and Harry will at least be consulted – imagine watching a film about your dead mother, it would be such an emotional experience and especially if she wasn’t portrayed as you remember her. I felt The Iron Lady shouldn’t have been made yet either, I mean Margaret Thatcher is still alive but here’s a film about her dementia! How insensitive.

  28. taxi says:

    Naomi’s nose is too small. Diana had a beak, even after she got it trimmed. No lightness in that woman. She was notoriously manipulative and highly neurotic. No responsible woman would confide her marital & family miseries to her young child! She sought consolation from little Wills & pushed him into the inappropriate role of her protector.

  29. Sly says:

    I think Michelle Williams would be a good choice, other than her height.

  30. marie says:

    I think she may be able to pull it off. Someone mentioned Michelle Williams!!! No way..No way!!!

  31. molly says:

    Its only been 14 years since Dianas death, cant they just leave her alone? Lets leave Diana alone and not try to fool people with a crappy movie about her starring a medicore actress.

  32. iseepinkelefants says:

    Agreed TOO SOON. Imagine being Harry and William and knowing there’s a movie about your mother and any resulting buzz? Ugh. Whatever we know about Diana it’s inconsiderate to tarnish whatever image they have of her. Who wants to know that much about their parents? Somethings should be kept a bit private (though I know Diana was a public figure and many people were VERY interested in her, still how would we feel in their position?)

    That said, the only actress I thought could pull off Diana was the girl who played Maggie in The Nanny. She looked just like her. Yes I know she’s too old now (and she hardly looks like the same girl or at least from what I remember of her show on IFC).

    I have yet to see anyone who has either the look or that shy, vulnerable quality to them. I think Naomi is a horrible choice. I cannot see her pulling off the Diana trademark, looking through the eyelashes, but for that matter I couldn’t see Charlize doing it either (Charlize is too sexy).

    Chastain might have pulled it off. LOVED her in The Help. She had that vulnerable quality that would have worked in this and her look is closer to Diana (their jaw is similar).

  33. Taksi says:

    I think Chastlain was a better fit look-wise…though I think Naomi always looks fragile which is good for a Diana movie.