The Crown star recalls ‘unbearable’ paparazzi scenes during Princess Diana’s final moments

Elizabeth Debicki has shared some insight into the realities of portraying Princess Diana’s final moments in the forthcoming season of The Crown – and spoke about how deeply she reacted to filming hectic scenes with the paparazzi.

The final series of Peter Morgan’s multi-award-winning Netflix historical drama will be released in two parts, with the first half of episodes debuting on Thursday 16 November.

Australian actor Debicki will reprise her role as the late Princess of Wales for the show’s final outing. However, this season is even more impactful for Diana as it will feature her death in 1997, aged 36, following a high-speed car crash in a Paris tunnel.

Though the trailer, released last month, did not depict the moment of impact, viewers saw the sombre nature of Diana’s last weeks, as well as the royal family’s reactions to the news of her death.

In a newly published Netflix interview, undertaken before the start of the actors’ strike, Debicki spoke about playing Diana in her final few days, which featured heavy paparazzi presence.

“It was difficult to recreate,” she noted. “It was heavy and very manic, and incredibly invasive. And it had a kind of pressure to it.

“At times it’s almost like an animalistic response to being pursued, by that many actors playing the press, because there’s nowhere you can go and you only have to be in a situation like that for about a minute, before you realise this is completely unbearable.”

Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in The Crown (Netflix)
Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana in The Crown (Netflix)

Debicki also noted that “no-one should ever [have] to experience” getting through France’s capital city with that level of swarming attention. Though she was acting, the Tenet star felt a genuine sense of pressure when surrounded by other performers shouting like real-life photographers.

“It’s a really unpleasant experience,” she continued. “There are times where, as an actor, it’s like you’re actually doing a stunt, or you’re jumping off a building, or you jump into the water, or whatever it is, that you experience something very physical and there’s not a huge amount of acting that takes place.

“I think that was what was happening a lot when we were recreating those scenes, because it’s really horrendous to have that many people yelling at you and wanting something. So we let it happen, because it feels like a very important part of the story to tell.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Debicki reflected on filming holiday scenes for season six, and named filming on a yacht as one of her favourite parts of the process.

The Crown - Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana (Daniel Escale/Netflix)
The Crown - Elizabeth Debicki as Princess Diana (Daniel Escale/Netflix)

“It was enormous and kind of outrageous and exactly what the story needed,” she said. “So, that was pretty extraordinary, to be on a big boat like that. With bedrooms the size of people’s apartments, enormous. That was fun, and we never really took that for granted, at all, especially because we knew we were coming back here to the grey weather, and so we just soaked every bit of vitamin D into our bones.”

In October, the series creator Peter Morgan responded to criticism of a scene from the final season that is said to show Diana as a ghost.

“I never imagined it as Diana’s ‘ghost’ in the traditional sense,” Morgan told Variety. “It was her continuing to live vividly in the minds of those she has left behind.”