Naomi Watts stars as the late Princess of Wales in the upcoming biographical drama, Diana.
The film centers on her secret affair with Pakistani heart surgeon, Hasnat Khan (Lost’s Naveen Andrews) during the last two years before her tragic death in 1997.
Watts, concerned about Prince William’s and Prince Harry’s opinions of the film and its depiction of their late mother, told Sky News at the London premiere last week, “I’ll never know what they think because I don’t know them. But if they see it, I hope they’ll think we’ve been respectful.”
However, not everyone feels this way. Khan has publicly rebuked the Oliver Hirshbiegel film, saying that it was “based on hypotheses and gossip”. Hirshbiegel hit back saying, “The film is actually based on the accounts of several people and the inquest in which there were hundreds of pages discussing their relationship. It is not a documentary, but a dramatic interpretation. In a love story you have to create four or five dramatic scenes that make it work.”
Also the British press hasn’t held back on their opinions of the film. But then again, they aren’t exactly known for mincing words. Several reviewers from the UK have blatantly expressed their dislike. A reviewer from The Mirror labels the film as “fabulously awful”, another from The Telegraph tags it as “lurid sensationalism”, and yet another from The Times adds “atrocious and intrusive”.
It can’t possibly get any more negative than that, really. The 16th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death was just last month, probably adding fuel to film critics’ fire.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian feels that the filmmakers’ exclusion of the Princess’ relationships with Prince Charles and her children resulted in a “distorted, sugary, and preposterous impression”.
British-born Watts said that although accepting the role was a risk, it was an offer she couldn’t refuse. “I turned [the part] down twice,” she told the Sunday Times. “The biggest reason that made me pause was how the princes were going to feel…But it was a story that was bound to be told at some point, and it’s probably fresher than people expected.”
The public will have a chance to cast their views once Diana hits UK theaters on September 20.