Emma Corrin based their version of Princess Diana on a neighborhood cat

emma corrin w magazine

You know how an actor has actually given an iconic performance? People are still talking about the performance for months and years after the fact. So it is with Emma Corrin playing Princess Diana in The Crown. Emma, who is non-binary and uses they/them, got one of the many covers for W Magazine’s TV/Fall issue. Emma has moved on and they have other projects in the pipeline, but people still want to talk about Diana. For what it’s worth, I think this W Magazine cover functions as Emmy campaigning. Emma already won a Golden Globe and a SAG (as part of the ensemble) for The Crown. Emma chatted with W Magazine about all of it:

When Emma first learned they were cast as Princess Diana: “I was at the end of my auditions. I was actually taken to the set where they were filming some of season 3, and did a couple of scenes with Josh [O’Connor, who plays Prince Charles], and then the director and one of the producers proposed to me in this sort of “Will you be our Diana?” way. It was mad. I think I probably blacked out.

Whether Emma dressed like Diana for the audition: “I did white jeans, crisp blue shirt, and I said to my agent, “I’m going to get my nails done.” She said, “Great idea. Great commitment.” I got them in the most electric, vivid blue, and my agent was like, “You will change that immediately. Never do that again.” I was like, “Well, the ring was blue; she was kind of funky,” and she said, “No, Emma. This is so wrong.”

Getting Diana’s eye-movement right: “I got that from a cat. Not my cat, but a cat that used to come and sit on my wall. Me and Polly, who helped me with movement and character and stuff, were talking about what animal [Diana] would be, and we couldn’t figure it out for ages. Then I was watching this cat who was watching my puppy, and this cat was just sitting on the wall like this [makes a face]. I was like, Whoa, it’s that, because cats are powerful, can be very mysterious, coy. When they’re friendly, it’s amazing, and you feel like you know them, but you don’t. And I was like, Great, it’s her. Perfect.

What kind of animal is Emma? “Every time I ask someone to tell me, “What animal do you think I am?” they always say a bird, because I’m very flighty. It’s the worst one. Who wants to be a bird? I feel like you want to be something like an otter, or a meerkat.

The best piece of advice: “It’s a very simple one, but it’s very much for me, because I move a million miles an hour through everything: When you’re living a pace of life where you’ve got a lot of stuff happening to you all at once, stop and let it go a bit, and chill out and actually just try and sit in moments, as opposed to always thinking or planning or worrying about the next thing. Dan Levy was interestingly telling me—because we had dinner with my flatmate, as well, and we’re having various crises that you have in your 20s—“Guys, honestly, your life will change so much, and in ways that you cannot expect, [so stop] worrying about trying to fix everything and have it exactly the way you think it should be, or preempting things or trying to have control over everything at this stage of your life.” He said, “Don’t sweat it, because you have no idea what’s going to happen, and stuff changes. Just let it go a bit.”

[From W Magazine]

I’ll admit that I had no idea who Emma was before The Crown, and I can only imagine what it’s been like for them to go from a virtual unknown to the actor who flawlessly played the young Diana Spencer. It’s like A Star is Born, but in real life and with a British accent. And I do think Emma has been pretty stressed in recent years, from filming The Crown to promoting it and campaigning for all of the awards. I hope Emma does get a chance to move past the role after the Emmys and they should definitely find a lot of work all over the place. And yes, Diana was very catlike! She was always very feline in her movements. Probably from years as a dancer, but she did that coy, chin-down, looking-up thing throughout her life too.

Cover & IG courtesy of W Magazine.

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36 Responses to “Emma Corrin based their version of Princess Diana on a neighborhood cat”

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  1. (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

    She truly captured a young Diana. I think this role with be her defining moment in that it will be *the* one that will follow her all of her life. She will *always* be remembered as Diana in The Crown.

  2. manda says:

    I always thought being a duck would be great–can fly, can float on the water and chill, can swim. And they’re not bad looking, baby ducks are adorable

  3. Emily says:

    I have a question about pronouns because I’m probably not the only person who’s still learning. Emma Corrin’s pronouns are she/they. Are there any specific rules about when to use “she” and when to use “they”? Or is it fine to use either interchangeably?

    • Ann says:

      I wonder about that too. My daughter’s partner is non-binary and it’s difficult to adjust. Even though she’s pretty much always been bi, all of her previous long term partners were straight boys/men and she called them boyfriends. The current one goes by “they,” so that’s what I use, but it so often sounds ungrammatical to my ear and I slip up a lot.

      If someone goes by both “she” and “they” does that indicate a preference? Does Emma prefer “they” but not mind if you say “she”? Is she just kind of letting people off the hook? Because if they’re non-binary then I think technically “they” is correct.

      I love that she chose a cat for Diana. I think my animal might be some kind of bird too. I have flying dreams sometimes and I literally feel like a bird in them, I have no fear, it feels completely natural and amazing.

    • osito says:

      In my experience, there isn’t a hard, fast rule, but I err on the side of caution/respect by using the gender neutral pronoun.

      Someone may truly still identify with the binary, but once they come out as enby, I go with that until they tell me otherwise — I just don’t think many people go to the trouble of coming out and/or transitioning if they don’t want people to actually acknowledge who they are. Sometimes people say it’s ok for friends and family and people who knew them before coming out to use the previous gender coding, and because they’re so famous and were referred to by feminine pronouns is such a public way for so long, that may be true for Emma. But as a sign of respect for anyone’s non-binary status, making the effort to use the appropriate set of pronouns is the way to go unless they say otherwise.

    • Mac says:

      Pronouns are not interchangeable. When someone tells you their pronouns, as Emma has, respect them and use what they told you to use.

      • Emily says:

        You don’t understand my question. I’m trying to respect Emma (and other people’s) pronouns but Emma gave two pronouns so I’m trying to understand which pronoun should be used when.

    • North of Boston says:

      I’ve always seen it referenced as “he/him” “she/ her” “they/them”. So in cases where you’d use “he” “she” , you’d use “they” in the same context
      – She gave me a hat.
      – They gave me a hat.

      And the same with him, her, them:

      - I gave her a hat.
      - I gave them a hat.

      And the possessives would follow: his, hers, theirs.

      I can’t recall what Emma’s stated their preference is. I’m guessing most people won’t mind clarifying if you ask in good faith. ETA it looks like Emma indicated they use she/her and they/them, (according to articles I saw) in that case I’d probably lean towards using they/them unless told otherwise.

      I’m too far from elementary school to remember what parts of speech those each, and diagramming sentences was never my jam LOL!

      (in practice, when referring to people when I don’t know their gender or preference, such commenting on advice column where the LW’s gender, preference isn’t specified, I’ll usually default to they/them/theirs as a gender neutral approach. I’m not sure if that’s “right” but the only complaints I’ve seen on that have been from self-proclaimed grammar police, who then usually get replies/feedback about historical usage and the naturally evolution of human languages)

      • shurl says:

        I hacve a transitioned relative who doesn’t want the pronoun- just actual preferred 1st name
        EMMA passed the test, vs, “they” passed the test.

      • Karla says:

        Thanks a lot for your explanation.
        However as a non-english speaker I wonder:

        They/them is plural, no?

        I gave them my hat.

        How do I know how many non-binary people you talk about?

    • Minnieder says:

      I also don’t understand the different uses of pronouns now. I am bisexual, and a mother of 3 teenagers, one of whom has been openly bisexual since middle school. I consider myself to be very open-minded, but I truly don’t understand what it means to be non-binary. I’ve asked my teenager daughter to help me understand but she just gets frustrated with me. I honestly would like to know without someone getting mad at me! 😬

      • Nick G says:

        I am no expert, but simply speaking bisexuality is about sexuality and sexual preference, whereas non-binary refers to ones gender identity… the first looking outward, the second looking inwards. That’s my interpretation

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        It is confusing. I know two people who don’t indentify one way or the other. They’ve told me to just call them by their name and it’s okay if I use the wrong pronoun as long as I understand WHO they are. That’s their identity.

        Emma did a great job as Diana. Love the animal question. I’ve been told I’m a cat, meerkat(am on high alert often) and owl. I love ducks but don’t want to be one. I’ve seen mallards going after females and it’s really bad. The males came after me when I was intercepting what I perceived as gang rape. 15 males vs 1 female duck. I was interfering in nature. She flew away and I was unscathed.

      • North of Boston says:

        A friend used to work at a small local park PT when we were in high school. One time he and another worker rounded up the 2 female ducks from the pond flock there (they were domestic white ducks with a few mallards/hybrids mixed in) and gave them to a local family to foster.

        It was something like 20 to 2 and those 2 female ducks didn’t stand a chance … they barely had 10 feathers between them when they were rescued.

      • Jensies says:

        It’s not really complicated. I just feel like me, I’ve never really resonated with femininity and masculinity never felt right either. I use she/they.

    • Case says:

      I also am unclear when to use “she” and when to use “they” if the person states both are acceptable to them. To me, “they” would be replacing “she.” But perhaps Emma is just saying she’s comfortable with either pronoun.

      • caela says:

        As someone who is non binary, usually when people say she/they they would like you to use both. Sometimes people don’t care. But err on the side of caution and use a mix is what I would do unless someone tells me otherwise.

  4. Stef says:

    Their performance was amazing and I sort of wish it could carry on to other Diana roles. I doubt Emma would want to be typecast as such but damn, their portrayal of Diana was brilliant! Even if you look at side by side pics of Emma’s Diana and actual Diana – it’s uncanny!

    My animal would be a bird, likely a duck because I could go anywhere, swim, fly, walk, and have a posse of duck buddies who look just like me! Sadly, I’m more like a chicken or goat in real life…

    Diana was definitely a cat.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Goats are great! I was enchanted watching a bunch of baby goats (kids) trying to be king of the hill at the Surfing Goat Dairy on Maui. They had a little playground type apparatus for the goats–a bunch of surfboards stacked at odd angles–which the goats which jumping up on & off. They like to be highest! Ha ha! Look at me! I’m on top! No, really, goats are great! And they’re not picky eaters!

      • North of Boston says:

        I think I’m some combination of goat and golden retriever puppy.

        Goats for the random climbing from here to here to there and following my nose, not a fussy eater / will mindlessly nibble on whatever’s in front of me, being a bit more stubborn and cranky as I get older. Golden retriever puppy for happy boundless eager to please energy that goes on and on until I HAVE to flop and rest soundly and cozy for a long time … until I pop up again.

        Unfortunately for friends and family they have no idea which is showing up on any given day 😂

      • Stef says:

        @Beaniebean. Goat surfing?!? I need this in my life!

      • Agreatreckoning says:

        @Stef-Check out Goatee and Pismo the surfing goats.

  5. lascivious chicken says:

    Birds are delightful! We’ll wait for our apology, Emma.

  6. tbg says:

    I think I’m like a hyena/sloth hybrid with bear personality traits (preferably Polar because snow and cold are my jam). I love this kind of “What Animal Am I?” type of thing!

  7. Betsy says:

    I guess I’m in the minority here; I didn’t think Emma was that great as Diana. Emma took me out of it and I quit watching before Emma’s season was done.

    • remarks says:

      I thought the eye movement in that engagement interview scene that took place in front of the photographers was a bit weirdly done.

      I didn’t think Emma was bad, but I don’t think I really forgot I was watching an interpretation of real-life events.

      I think The Crown might be the most high-brow set of performances about the royal family I’ve seen. Everything else from the Naomi Watts movie to Lifetime movies to the trailer for the musical “Diana” looks really, really cheesy. From that standpoint, I guess I could see why Emma’s performance would be lauded.

      • Duch says:

        Did you ever see the full clip of the real event – her facial expressions do go on and on, and I think that’s what EC was emulating

      • Duch says:

        Did you ever see the full clip of the real event – her facial expressions do go on and on, and I think that’s what EC was emulating

      • Dee says:

        Yes. Just rewatched that engagement interview. Knowing what we know now, it is heartwrenching. Diana’s eyes tell a whole novel’s worth.

    • Case says:

      Betsy, I agree. Emma’s eye movements and smirks honestly distracted me. I know Diana made expressions like that IRL but it was done in a way that seemed really silly.

  8. Amy says:

    Am I the only person here who finds this whole interview insufferable?

    • schlussel1 says:

      No, you’re not alone. I think Emma comes off a bit pretentious and try-hard here – unnecessarily so when they should just let their evident talent speak for itself. Maybe it’s a desire to move as far away from DIANA as possible, or just that they’re young and still figuring out who they are.

    • Joanna says:

      Nope! Agree