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Naomi Watts: The danger of being Diana

Naomi Watts as Princess Diana in upcoming film Diana.
As she prepares to bring Diana back to life on the silver screen, Aussie actress Naomi Watts tells Chrissy Iley why she is bracing for a backlash.
Ahead of the October 10 release of new biopic Diana, Naomi Watts has already been caught in a maelstrom of criticism over playing the People's Princess from those who want her memory left intact.
It's clearly shaken the actress who is usually incredibly relaxed, giggly, and friendly, but speaking to The Weekly about the role makes her stiffen slightly.
"It was the hardest thing I've ever done, in so many ways," she says.
"I knew [the backlash] would happen and it does stumble you for a minute.
"You think this is a story that is going to be told and needs to be told. We are at a place where we are fascinated with true stories and want to know secrets. With this, we want to know a bit more. We don't know everything."
The story is mostly told from the Kate Snell book Diana: Her Last Love, which explores the relationship between the late Princess of Wales and the surgeon who stole her heart in her final two years, Hasnat Khan.
"I didn't know much about the last two years of her life or her love affair with Hasnat. It was nerve-wracking because all the people feel they know her and they own her, she's theirs. There is a sense of that ownership because they've spent time with her over the years, reading stories and investing in those stories."
The 44-year-old actress has undergone an extraordinary transformation in the film to capture the complex Princess. In the September issue of The Weekly Naomi reveals what she learned from Diana, and how she identified with her.
"The way she grew up, there was some residual sadness from her childhood. Her parents divorcing and being separated from her mother, that created fragility in her. I was impressed by how she wanted to heal that. When her marriage broke down, a lot of that came back, the abandonment stuff. I can empathise with that," she says.
"My family divorced when I was four and my father passed away when I was seven."
Did she also identify with the way the paparazzi hounded Diana?
"Yes, but it’s a totally different scale. I’ve only had a hint of it, nothing to that level, where every single moment of her day was scrutinised. I think Diana became more isolated. She found it hard to trust people."
Naomi reveals one of her main concerns about taking the role, which she initially rejected, was for the sake of Diana's son's, Prince William and Prince Harry.
"But they are not 12 and 15 anymore. They are men," she says.
"They know the family they live in. I hope they feel okay about it. I can tell you right now there is nothing that is over-sensation in this film."
Diana is in cinemas on October 10.
Read more of this story in the September issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.

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