First Look: Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in 'Spencer'

Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins and Sean Harris have also joined Pablo Larrain's biopic, set over a single weekend when the late royal decides to end her marriage to Prince Charles.

Kristen Stewart has started shooting one of her most talked-about roles to date, that of Diana, Princess of Wales.

In this first-look image from Pablo Larraín's Spencer, which was picked up by Neon and Topic Studios for U.S. distribution, the star is seen as the late former princess in a classic head-tilt pose that is bound to stir royal- and fashion-watchers alike.

First announced during the 2020 virtual Cannes Market, the film — scripted by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Locked Down) — is set over a critical weekend in the early '90s when Diana decided that she needed to end her marriage to Prince Charles. The drama takes place over three days in one of her last Christmas holidays as a member of the House of Windsor, at their Sandringham estate. The weekend in question, and the gradual implosion of the royal marriage, was recently featured in the latest season of Netflix's The Crown, with Diana played by Emma Corrin alongside Josh O'Connor as Prince Charles.

Newly announced castmembers joining Stewart in Spencer including Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) and Sean Harris (Mission: Impossible — Fallout). Filming will take place in Germany and the U.K. and an autumn 2021 launch is anticipated, roughly a year before the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death in 2022.

"Spencer is a dive inside an emotional imagining of who Diana was at a pivotal turning point in her life," said Stewart. "It is a physical assertion of the sum of her parts, which starts with her given name: Spencer. It is a harrowing effort for her to return to herself, as Diana strives to hold on to what the name Spencer means to her."

The film is being produced by Larraín, behind films that include Jackie and Neruda, along with Fabula partner Juan de Dios Larraín, Jonas Dornbach and Janine Jackowski for Komplizen Film, and Paul Webster for Shoebox Films.

"We are extremely grateful for the support of our distributors worldwide, our partners and funders who have shown tremendous commitment to us in these extraordinary times," said the producers. "With Kristen Stewart, Steven Knight and the rest of our fantastic team both in front and behind the camera, we are bringing Spencer to the world. It is an independently produced film made for the big screen about an iconic woman’s own declaration of independence. We couldn’t be more excited!"

Larraín’s creative team includes director of photography Claire Mathon (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), costume designer Jacqueline Durran (Academy Award-winner for Little Women and Anna Karenina), makeup and hair designer Wakana Yoshihara (Murder on the Orient Express, High Rise), and Guy Hendrix Dyas (Academy Award nominee for Passengers and Inception) is the production designer. Composing the original score is Academy Award, BAFTA and Grammy Award nominee, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood (You Were Never Really Here, Phantom Thread).

Executive producers are Tom Quinn, Jeff Deutchman and Christina Zisa for Neon and Michael Bloom, Maria Zuckerman and Ryan Heller for Topic Studios.

FilmNation Entertainment handled international sales with all key territories selling out of the Cannes virtual market. The CAA Media Finance group sold to Neon and Topic Studios to distribute in the United States, STXinternational will distribute the film in the U.K., France, Italy and Benelux, and DCM will distribute in Germany. Other territories sold include: Australia/NZ (Roadshow), Latin America, Spain and Portugal (Sun), South Korea (Green Narae), Japan (Tohokushina), Scandinavia (Scanbox), Canada (Elevation), CIS/Baltics (Central Partnership), Eastern Europe (Forum), Middle East (Italia), Singapore (Shaw), Greece/Cyprus (Spentzos), Hong Kong (Golden Scene), India/Pakistan (Impact Films India), Israel (Lev), Turkey (FilmArti), South Africa (Empire), Taiwan (Moviecloud) and Thailand (M Pictures).