Trigger warning: this article discusses eating disorders and mental health.
“Here is the stuff of which fairytales are made...”
That’s how the teaser trailer for season four of The Crown begins, with a real-life recording of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech on Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding day.
But, as we’re all aware, those fateful words sadly did not ring true.
On paper, they were a golden couple bound to succeed — she, a beautiful and sweet aristocrat and him a dashing future king. In reality, both the Prince and Princess of Wales had their own personal issues and shortcomings that eventually made their union untenable.
In the upcoming instalment of Netflix’s hit royal drama, Emma Corrin and Josh O'Connor bring life to Diana and Charles respectively and neither have shied away from delving deep into the newlywed’s tumultuous marriage.
For Emma, that meant portraying a young Diana’s struggles with mental health and bulimia, a side of the enduring ‘Peoples’ Princess’ narrative that is often left buried. In an exclusive chat with Yahoo Lifestyle, the actor reveals that those graphic scenes were just as heartbreaking to shoot as they are to watch.
“It was difficult to film obviously because it takes you to a place that isn’t so pleasant,” Emma says.
“But I really advocated that they were included because I thought it was really important to depict and also because [Diana] talks about it very candidly in a way that I thought was incredibly open,” she adds.
For Emma, the conviction that she was ‘doing justice’ to the late princess and her story made it ever so slightly less challenging to act out.
The 24-year-old from Kent in the UK had the perfect remedy for a tough day on set: binging her favourite comforting TV shows.
“Friends or Gilmour Girls. It was kind of like a hug,” she smiles.
SAG award winner Josh, 30, also felt the need to lighten the mood while shooting Charles and Diana’s more intense moments, particularly their huge blow-up in the season finale.
“That scene in episode 10 when I’m screaming at Emma, that one was really tricky,” he says. “I just felt really sad that I had just shouted at my mate.
“You have to keep it light otherwise you kind of go mad. We had lots of jokes and games and silliness, really.”
It’s not all furious fights and withering stares for their characters, though. Both stars relished filming the couple’s 1983 royal tour of Australia — which was shot in Spain — as it showcased several poignant moments of pure joy.
“Australia gave us a chance to show them in their happiness which was really important to the overall journey,” Emma says.
Emma and Josh star alongside Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies who are reprising their roles as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip respectively, along with Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret and Gillian Anderson as Britain's first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
The Crown season four begins streaming on Netflix from Sunday, November 15.
Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is also available via Beyond Blue.
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