“I came in as Emma to a very established group of people, most of them insane household names… There were moments where I felt very out of my depth” – Emma Corrin
Few figures in 20th century history are as recognizable around the world as Diana, Princess of Wales and a number of actresses has portrayed the late royal in film and television (most notably Naomi Watts in the critically panned 2013 film Diana). Diana features prominently in the fourth season of the Netflix series The Crown, which spans the life of Queen Elizabeth II. Relatively unknown English actress Emma Corrin was cast as Diana. In an interview with Variety about portraying Diana on the series, Corrin speaks about her education as an actress and how it felt acting opposite so many major stars.
Though she made her film debut in 2017 and television debut in 2019, Corrin has been acting ever since she starred in a production of The Wind in the Willows at school when she was a preteen. She remembers, “Afterwards, someone’s mum came up to me and very innocuously said, ‘You were great, honey. Have you thought about being an actor?’ I think that planted a seed, and there was nothing else I ever really wanted to do after that. Marine biology was in contention for a little bit, but there was never a great chance of that happening.”
Corrin pursued acting as a student at the University of Bristol, but she did not feel that it was a good experience. She explains, “I really didn’t like it because it wasn’t drama school; it wasn’t training in craft. It was the theory of drama, which I’m not that interested in. It’s weird how somewhere can be so wrong for you. In retrospect, I was miserable there for no particular reason other than it didn’t suit me. I wasn’t comfortable at all.”
After a transfer to Cambridge, Corrin found herself much more comfortable in the theater scene. She continues, “People do compare it to the experience of doing rep. You’re making all your own work, and the amount of effort people put in is incredible. It’s up to us to create everything. It was a great lesson in showing up and being accountable, not letting people down.”
When it comes to being cast on The Crown opposite opposite established stars like Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, and Gillian Anderson, Corrin believes that her obscurity worked to her advantage in playing Diana, who was initially an outsider to the royal family. She says, “I came in as Emma to a very established group of people, most of them insane household names, and I think it played to my advantage in crafting this character and how she would have felt. There were moments where I felt very out of my depth. I was always made to feel at home, but it was an interesting situation.”