Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category
April 29, 2023   —   Mouza

Star quality: It’s that ineffable trait that makes an actor pop off the screen. When a performer has it, you become entirely absorbed by the characters they play, the scenes they seem to so effortlessly inhabit. Anyone who’s witnessed actor Elizabeth Debicki’s astonishing work as Diana, Princess of Wales in The Crown knows that the Australian actor has star quality in spades.

Taking over the role from Emma Corrin, Debicki brings a more mature Diana to the fifth season of creator Peter Morgan’s prestige drama, which unfolds during the early 1990s. It’s a period when Diana is attempting to chart a new and more independent course for her life, but every effort she makes to have her voice heard — whether cooperating on a covert biography or granting a candid interview to the unscrupulous Martin Bashir (Prasanna Puwanarajah) — only brings more intense scrutiny. The public spotlight is unrelenting.

Portraying one of the twentieth century’s most iconic women, Debicki understood that her performance would be carefully examined. “It’s an enormous amount of pressure as an actor,” she says, “because you don’t usually have to play [a role] that someone else has just played so excellently. Then, of course, there’s the responsibility that you feel to do this person’s legacy justice. They’re two quite different pressures, but they both work in tandem when you start doing this job. That was, at times, pretty overwhelming.”

Fortunately, Debicki isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. She came to The Crown after delivering a decade of impressive performances dating back to her breakthrough in 2013’s The Great Gatsby. Notable turns in television (The Night Manager) and film (Widows, Tenet) followed, showcasing her versatility and range. “You have to sift through what Diana’s become — because people need her to become a certain representation or symbol — to get to the real-life person,” says Debicki of how she began to practically approach the creative challenge that lay ahead of her.

Debicki shared with Queue her personal recollections of the former Princess of Wales, the experience of inhabiting Diana’s psyche for so long, and how one well-timed glass of champagne helped launch her career.

Krista Smith: I first saw you in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, playing Jordan Baker, the incredibly chic professional golfer. Your co-stars were Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire, and you were the discovery in that film.
Elizabeth Debicki: I was out of drama school for, I think, two months when I got to do a screen test for Gatsby. I was in Melbourne where I’d just finished school. I went to [an] almost religiously theater-based training school. The methodology was very physical, lots of clowning, lots of Shakespeare and Chekhov. We were told very clearly, “You are lucky if you get a job, period, and it will only be in theater,” which is what I was aspiring to at the time. So, I didn’t know how to do a screen test. I went in there, and I was nervous as hell. There was a camera and a lovely reader who read very, very quickly, which made me drop my lines. I mean, I felt like I did it 12 times. I probably did it four times. Somehow, that [audition] tape magically found its way into Baz’s [hands]. I honestly don’t even know how you get Baz to sit down, so it was incredible that he sat and watched it. And then they flew me to L.A., and I did a screen test with Tobey at the Chateau [Marmont], which was one of the strangest and most memorable experiences of my life.

I’d never been to L.A. before. Tobey and I read the scene, Baz is filming us, and my hair’s in this fake little bob. We staged the whole thing. We go around the table, and we sit on the couch. He’s just following us like a puppy dog with this camera. Then we go to the bedroom and there’s another scene. I’m lounging around on the bed, and I’m just talking the whole time. I have no idea what accent I was doing. It went for about an hour and a half. The entire time I thought, I literally have nothing to lose. It was an incredibly freeing thing because I thought, I’m probably never going to see these people ever again. I went downstairs, and I remember thinking, We’ve got two hours or something until I have to leave for the airport. I’ll have a glass of champagne in the sunshine. I think I was 20 at the time. Is that legal? [More at Source]

February 20, 2023   —   Mouza

February 20, 2023   —   Mouza

February 20, 2023   —   Mouza

November 27, 2022   —   Mouza

It’s a Friday morning in Spain when Elizabeth Debicki Zooms in from the Mallorca set of The Crown, where the Australian actor is currently filming season six as Diana, Princess of Wales. “I’m in a little flat with a very interesting clock on the wall,” she deadpans, referring to her basic holiday rental that’s dwarfed by a frameless timepiece, comprised of numerals painted directly onto the white wall over her shoulder. “The first time I came here was doing The Night Manager, which I was horrified to count backwards and realise was seven years ago,” the 32-year-old continues, blue eyes sparkling behind oversized tortoiseshell frames. Lifting a wine glass, she adds, “This is a protein shake, in a wine glass, because we’re out of normal glasses. Please don’t judge.”

Right now, life for Debicki is somewhat topsy-turvy and time is clearly on her mind. “It’s such a strange experiment, you come to beautiful places that people only come to have a lovely vacation, and you work really hard and funny hours. The first week you’re like, ‘I can have a nice lunch and do my work. I’m totally capable.’ Then after the third week, you’re like this nocturnal animal. You’re so tired and you see people having dinner under your building and you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah. Restaurant.’ It’s such a weird experience.”

Production on season six is now back into overdrive after a respectful pause for the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. “We had just gotten to Barcelona, and I think we’d shot a day,” she recalls. “Of course, we paused, which was the right thing to do. It was very surreal, very sad and very sobering for everybody. I suddenly felt very homesick,” she shares, referring to her parents, and younger brother and sister, back in Melbourne. “I could tell it was really hard for people to be away from their families,” she continues, explaining that 95 per cent of The Crown’s crew are English. “Grief, as we all know, sneaks up in the oddest of ways. All the crew and cast stayed in the same hotel, and everyone just kept passing each other. It’s strange being on location because it’s liminal space where you don’t have to do your laundry, but you’re not at work and you don’t know what to do. I spent a lot of time watching that queue,” she says of the line to visit the monarch Lying-in-State, which was 10 miles long and a 24-hour wait at its peak. “It was just the perfect snapshot of what English people are and [are] capable of. It was very moving.”

After years commuting between Sydney and London in her 20s for many a film set and to tread the boards at Britain’s National Theatre, Debicki, who was born in Paris but raised in Melbourne, has been based in North London since 2018. “I miss them really a lot all the time,” she says of her close-knit family. Her parents, both professional dancers, ignited her passion for the arts. “But I guess I’ve gotten used to missing people. That’s the expat’s lot. When I land in Australia, the wash of familiarity, comfort and nostalgia is extremely settling for me. But London feels like my home now.”

Debicki was last back in Melbourne in August for a surprise visit for her birthday. “I just really wanted to see my dad’s face, and he gave me what I really needed,” she smiles. “He was watering something in the front yard and I jumped out of the corner. My sister was filming it. My mum opens the door with this all-knowing look and she’s like, ‘I knew you were here. I felt it!’ I was like, ‘Oh, come on. Give it to me, I just flew across the ocean!’” [More at Source]

November 08, 2022   —   Mouza

The Season 4 finale of The Crown ends with Emma Corrin’s Diana standing on the edge of a family Christmas photo. Nearly a decade into her marriage, she’s finally coming to terms with the fact that things haven’t gone as planned. As Princess of Wales, she’s a central figure in the royal family; but as an individual, she feels very much out of place in a system designed for conformity. The camera slowly zooms in on her face, and she appears both determined and resigned as she contemplates what to do next.

Season 5, which premieres on Netflix on Nov. 9, ushers in a new chapter in Diana’s story. Now played by Elizabeth Debicki, the character encounters challenges and triumphs as the series enters the ’90s, a decade of turmoil and self-discovery. You may recognize some familiar themes: Once again, Diana’s relationship with Charles (now played by Dominic West) is on shaky ground, and she chafes at the rigid rules that govern the members of the House of Windsor. But unlike her younger self, this version of Diana is never skirting the frame. Even through losses and setbacks, she plunges into the spotlight, embracing the heady brew of style, empathy and charisma that made her one of the most famous women in the world.

Ahead, Debicki reflects on her transformation into this more recognizable Diana and teases what to expect from the character (revenge dress, anyone?) this season.

How would you describe Diana’s mindset when we meet her at the beginning of Season 5?
I feel like it’s a pretty direct pickup of where we left with Emma [Corrin] playing Diana. The character’s trying to conform and make peace with things within the family that she’s in and within the marriage that she’s in. I think that there is a hopefulness that things can be repaired, when we first pick up. It’s very interesting playing these characters because we pick up the bat of what’s been laid out before us. It’s a unique way to start playing a part, really, because there’s a transition that the writing seamlessly does, and then we, as the actors, have to take this leap of faith, and then the audience does it with us. It’s unusual, but it’s also really exciting and it’s challenging. [More at Source]

November 07, 2022   —   Mouza

The fifth season of The Crown will introduce viewers to a brand new cast as the action moves into a new era.

Elizabeth Debicki has taken on the role of Princess Diana, replacing season 4 star Emma Corrin, and the new episodes see the Australian actress tasked with reenacting a tumultuous period in the late royal’s life.

Set in the ’90s, season 5 dramatises the collapse of Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles (Dominic West) and her ensuing loneliness as she becomes yet more isolated from her royal in-laws, as well as her decision to go public with her grievances in her notorious Panorama interview with Martin Bashir.

Speaking in this week’s Radio Times magazine, Debicki responded to suggestions that some viewers might see the Princess’s behaviour as “manipulative” or selfish in some scenes, explaining that it is “fascinating” to hear different responses to her character after spending so long immersed in the role.

“There’s a part of me that goes, ‘No, I’m not,’ because I’ve been inside the character for so long,” she said. “It’s fascinating because it’s the first time we’re really hearing it, it’s interesting that that’s your read on it.”

The star went on to reveal that the new season explores the tabloid media landscape in Britain in the ’90s, and examines Diana’s relationship with those publications.

“The character of Diana has a very interesting relationship at that point in the story with the media, because it’s something that can be used to a perceived advantage, and then, at times, obviously it can backfire because it’s an extremely unruly beast.” [More at Source]

November 07, 2022   —   Mouza

Elizabeth Debicki has had Diana, Princess of Wales on her mind for at least five years. When she first auditioned for The Crown, the soapy royal family saga that doubles up as a tabloid flashpoint, it wasn’t to play Diana at all. She read for a part way back in season two, though she won’t say which, because someone else played it “beautifully”. “Also, if I told people, they’d be like, what?” she adds, as if the idea is absurd, which means we can only speculate that she was up for the part of Prince Philip.

She thought she had blown it. “Well, I did, in the fact that I did not get the part,” she deadpans. The Crown’s creator, Peter Morgan, spotted something else, however. “They obviously saw something Diana-ish in my audition, which is really not what I was going for at that time.” Her agent called her and asked if she’d be interested in playing Diana at some point in the future. She filed it away in the back of her mind, where it lurked until a couple of years ago. Then she got the call. “It was a much more formal, will you do this role?” She’d had plenty of time to think about it. She said yes.

Debicki lives in London, but we are speaking on a video call as she is in Mallorca filming The Crown’s sixth and reportedly final season. She has come to my rescue, giving me clear instructions about how to make the windows bigger, which she finds funny, as usually she’s the one in need of tech support. “Any technology I use is running on some ancient program. People open it up and they’re like, why is this from 2004? Why do you have 874 unread emails?” She picks up her phone and shows me her email app. It’s actually 23,460 unread emails. That’s disgraceful! “It’s utterly, utterly revolting,” she grins. She has friends who, when they meet her for coffee, open up her phone, just so they can delete some of her messages.

This is a rare day off for her and she is feeling tired. It is easy to understand why; much of The Crown’s fifth season is Diana-heavy and deals with the final collapse of her marriage to Prince (now King) Charles. We talk for almost an hour and a half, and she fidgets admirably. She puts her glasses on and takes them off. She wears her hair up, and down, up, and down. She scratches her forehead, her nose, touching her mouth, her face, always moving, just a bit. This is all the more striking because most of her characters, from Jed in The Night Manager to Kat in Tenet, are glacially still, regally sombre, near-encased in their own sadness. One of the reasons she doesn’t often get recognised in the street, she suspects, is because she doesn’t much resemble her characters off-duty, and in the case of The Crown that’s certainly true. Even after two years of filming, her long, straight blond hair came as a surprise to one of the makeup artists on set, who had assumed that the Diana hair was real and that Debicki’s real hair was a wig. “At least we’re selling it,” she says. [More at Source]

November 07, 2022   —   Mouza

Forget the TV show, it’s going to make for quite the series finale to the British autumn. Only months into our post-Elizabethan world, Netflix’s megahit The Crown is returning for a fifth series of the addictive, splashy, soapy royal masquerade, with a final recast of the main players and more wigs than a Cher comeback tour.

It is similarly febrile, too. On a wet and fateful day in October, somewhere in the no man’s land between Liz and Rishi, the full series trailer dropped. Then jaws did. In Buckingham Palace and beyond, questions were barked: will our newly elevated King be dragged over the coals? Will the late Queen’s memory be left intact? Is now really the time to trawl over the phone-tapped sexy talk of a new Queen Consort? In short: popcorn at the ready.

Much of the attention has alighted on the person who, at the tail end of summer, I rushed through Highbury Fields, in North London, to meet. Elizabeth Debicki, an Australian 32-year-old with formidable talent and a steel trap mind, is a screen and stage actor of rare repute, and the latest brave soul to touch the live wire of playing Princess Diana. And in the 1990s no less – the era of Andrew Morton, superyachts, Panorama and pain. The decade she would define and that would destroy her.

In some ways, Debicki – who is as unflashy as she is intellectual – is an unusual fit for the part. Though, granted, not physically. She arrives at our sunny table outside a hyper-healthy local café selling delicious bowls that she likes, with her hair blonded, head to toe in linen with Dior sandals and a sprinkle of late summer jewellery. She was cast formally for The Crown’s series five and six two years ago, though it had been coming down the pipeline for a while. Initially, she tried out for a minor part in the show’s first season but says the producers immediately cried out “Di!” when she walked through the door. She says she “can’t see” a huge physical likeness – she runs a finger over her nose in profile, showing me the difference. But once the wig and kohl eyeliner went on, the effect was eerie and everyone agreed she simply had to play her.

Naturally, she was a little spooked at the prospect. “I think in the very beginning that did overwhelm me, the idea of this kind of collective [of Diana disciples] out there,” she says. “It’s a trap, right? A swampy quagmire. So, I would stand over the kitchen sink and say, ‘I cannot do this.’” But slowly she shed her own light Aussie tones and got into the accent – “Al’right” – to the point her sister and friends started picking it up too, and then the scripts arrived and she realised: “This isn’t meta. These are characters.”

“It’s a part,” she continues. Will viewers make the distinction? Each series of the show has been met with its share of pearl-clutching by some dustier MPs and the cake-and-eat-it tabloids, distraughtly imagining a viewership who are unable to separate fact from fiction. (A not entirely unreasonable conceit, to be fair; isn’t the show’s stock-in-trade making you sort of believe everything it’s telling you, like an especially juicy Vanity Fair piece?) But things have been flat out frantic this time around. Judi Dench even wrote a piece for The Times slamming the makers of it. [More at Source]

April 21, 2022   —   Mouza

It’s been a breathless few months for Elizabeth Debicki and it shows no sign of slowing down. The Australian converses from her apartment in Brooklyn, where she’s having a momentary break from learning lines for her next role. She’s just finished filming on one of her biggest roles to date—playing Diana, Princess of Wales, in the upcoming season of The Crown— and next week, she’s back on set with James Gunn, filming the third installment of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Sitting on the floor, leaning against her sofa, and grabbing a quick slice of pizza, Debicki says she’s happy to be busy and among people again after a “surreal” lockdown spent largely alone. “At a certain point in the pandemic, I was super isolated,” Debicki says. She speaks slowly, in low tones, considering every question pensively, replying thoughtfully and reflectively. “It was before I’d gone back home to see my family and [because] of a number of factors, I went through this passage of time on my own. It’s incredible how your sense of self dissolves and becomes quite swampy and murky when you’re not touched or witnessed by people.”

The 31-year-old Australian actor, who was born in France and raised in Melbourne, has had little time for rest since landing a dream role straight out of drama school in 2013 in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby—a role that won her the AACTA Award for Best Supporting Actress. A stint in theatre with Cate Blanchett followed, as did acclaimed roles in The Night Manager alongside Tom Hiddleston, the Steve McQueen-directed Widows, and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet—one of the first big films to hit theaters after lockdown.

Debicki, who recently debuted as the face of Dior Fine Jewelry, spent the majority of her twenties in front of a camera or audiences—without that in lockdown, she says, she lost her sense of self. “All of that illusion of you being self-sustaining in any way as an artist is shattered when suddenly people can’t congregate,” she considers. “I can do some acting in my living room like I’m currently doing, learning some lines. But what is it when I’m on my own? To actually do your craft, you have to be watched.”

Debicki elaborates how the lack of communication and contact with others took a toll. “When I was forced to stop, I remember it feeling absolutely devastating and I was full of internal chaos. I had this sense of like incoming entropy. I felt like it was all going to collapse because you build momentum [in your career], and you feel like momentum is the most important thing. I didn’t yet know how to stop, trust, rest, or recoup… It was telling the way that it hit me like this absolute, gut-wrenching thing. It all came crashing down and it was very confronting. You start to reassess and analyze.”

Even before the pandemic, Debicki says she was always prone to analyzing. After landing the role in Gatsby as Jordan Baker alongside Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Toby Maguire, Debicki says she walked away from that project anxious about where and when her next role would arrive. “I went back to my life after Gatsby thinking, ‘Was that it?’” She explains that she didn’t have another job for almost a year after filming and returned to a relatively normal existence in Sydney. “I remember going back to my very student-y life at that point. I was in a big house share and I’m not going to say it’s Withnail and I, but it was full of artists and people who were sculpting out of Styrofoam,” she laughs, “and everybody—apart from me—was smoking weed.”

Debicki shares that despite the success of her critically acclaimed turn in the film she “had to really hustle” for parts in the months that followed and often got rejected. “It was a very healthy kick-in-the-butt reality check,” Debicki says, reflecting on the period. She says it taught her the value of never taking her career for granted. “There are just no givens with this job,” she explains. “I would wrap on a big movie, and I would look at all of it wistfully, like… ‘Well, at least I got a shot! Thanks for having me!’” Debicki thinks it’s instilled in actors from “the beginning” about “how few and far between opportunity is” and a constant feeling of “you may not work again after [your current job]”— messages she’s taken to heart. “I guess I maybe did that to myself, to keep me working really hard.” [More at Source]