THE PERFORMER | Emma Corrin
THE SHOW | The Crown
THE EPISODE | “Fairytale” (Nov. 15, 2020)
THE PERFORMANCE | A relative newcomer with just a few screen credits to her name, Corrin had some big shoes (and puffy wedding dress sleeves) to fill when she took on the role of Diana Spencer, aka Princess Di, in the fourth season of Netflix’s royal drama. But fill them she did, with a captivating, heartbreaking performance that peaked in Season 4’s third episode, as Diana’s whirlwind romance with Prince Charles began to fall apart before they even walked down the aisle.
Corrin certainly looks the part — her ’80s feathered hairdo as Diana in later episodes is just spot-on, isn’t it? — but she also fully inhabited Diana’s youthful exuberance as the girl celebrated Charles’ proposal with a night out with her friends and roller-skated through the halls of Buckingham Palace to the sounds of Duran Duran. Her royal courtship wasn’t all smiles, though; Corrin’s face flushed with embarrassment as Diana stumbled during a meeting with Charles’ family, leading the Queen to put her through a crash course in royal etiquette. Plus, cracks were starting to show in her relationship with Charles, and during a disastrous lunch with his ex Camilla, it was devastating to watch Corrin’s face crumble as doubts started to creep in. (Diana also fell victim to bulimia, which The Crown depicted in unflinching detail.)
As Diana’s concerns began to mount, Corrin began to shine even more, with the future princess thrashing around like a wild animal in the midst of an elegant ballet routine. She confronted Charles about Camilla, and though they still went through with the wedding, Corrin’s jaded face showed us that this was certainly no fairy tale. It can’t be easy playing an iconic character like Princess Diana, but Corrin rose to the occasion… and made us fall in love with her the same way the world fell in love with the Princess of Wales.
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