Photo Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images;Tim Graham/Getty Images
The story of Princess Diana is coming to the big screen for the first time, and Oscar nominee Naomi Watts has been cast in the starring role. Watts, 43, will play the late Diana Spencer in the biopic Caught in Flight, which focuses on events towards the end of Diana's life.
"It is such an honour to be able to play this iconic role," says Watts in a statement. "Princess Diana was loved across the world, and I look forward to rising to the challenge of playing her on screen."
Rather than re-creating all of Princess Diana's story, the film will focus on a little-known part of her life: her secret love affair with heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Kahn.
Diana met Kahn when she was visiting a friend in the hospital in 1995, and they dated discreetly for two years. Though the relationship was intense -- Diana reportedly considered converting to Islam and moving to Pakistan to be with him -- Khan kept their secret until 2008, more than a decade after her tragic death. In the words of Caught in Flight's producers, Diana and Hasnat's relationship was "a love story between a princess locked in a tower and an ordinary man."
As accomplished an actress as she is, there's bound to be some controversy over Naomi Watts playing Diana. For one thing, Watts is generally thought of as an Australian actress -- although she lived in England until she was 14, and has said that she considers herself British. She's also seven years older than Diana was when she died in 1997, at the age of 36. In fact, the filmmakers' first choice was reportedly a younger actress: Jessica Chastain, 30, the star of last year's Tree of Life.
That said, Watts has a whole lot to bring to the table here. Not only does she have a bit of a resemblance to the blond princess, but she has that same combination of old Hollywood glamour and human vulnerability that made Diana so compelling. She's also an excellent actress who has been laying low for a while; it's the perfect time for her to snag an Oscar-bait role like this one!
Whatever your feelings about Naomi Watts, you have to admit she'll be a far better Princess Di than some of the other women who have played the part -- including, believe it or not, Madonna on Saturday Night Live. You can watch that clip here, if you dare!