Australian actor Elizabeth Debicki has now lived in England long enough to know how she likes her tea, a pot of which she’s letting steep in front of her.
“Leave the bag in for as long as humanly possible,” she says. “I want it to hit me like coffee, but I want it to still be tea.”
That’s a pretty apt metaphor for her lauded turn as Princess Diana Spencer in the fifth season of “The Crown”: an intense portrait of exiled loneliness inside an uncanny rendering of that gossamer lilt of a voice, warmly teasing charm, and mannerisms. After two years playing her — with Season 6 streaming later this year — Debicki realized letting go of so demanding a role wouldn’t be simple.
“At a certain stage toward the end of it, it dawned on me that I’d have to very consciously unpeel the layers,” says Debicki, who credits having dancer parents, and her own ballet training, with a very body-conscious approach to acting. She also acknowledges how much her osteopath has helped her with the factory-reset part of the gig.
“The other day, he was like, ‘Can we go back to your [own] body?’” she says with a gentle laugh. “The actor wants the body to be as neutral a canvas as possible so you can impact on it and become somebody else, how they want to move.”
For Debicki, Diana’s physicality was about so much more than the recognizable head-drop. “Everyone and their mother does that,” Debicki says. “My plumber does it; it’s so incessant!” Rather, she sought a deeper understanding of Diana’s presence in any given scene. “She was quite tall, but there’s also this deep humility that seemed to be emanating out, not wanting to take up too much space, knowing that you inherently take up so much space because you’re so luminous. I think it was always a slight kind of deferral.” She adds, “Bodies have maps of all the things they’ve endured: the knocks, the highlights, the beliefs they’ve inherited.”
When Debicki was still relatively industry-fresh, and “The Crown” was an instant hit, she’d tried out for a small Season 2 role that she didn’t get — “I was physically wrong for it” — but which led to whispers that the production would be interested in her for Diana down the road. Emma Corrin’s Season 4 casting as the princess-to-be briefly spurred a “you win some, you lose some” feeling, she notes, until early 2020, when the offer came to be the 1990s Diana. A pandemic-delayed start gave Debicki a wealth of time to prepare. [More at Source]