“Spencer,” Pablo Larraín’s highly anticipated drama starring Kristen Stewart as Lady Diana, will world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival, Variety has learned.
Written by “Peaky Blinders” creator Steven Knight, the film centers on a weekend in the early 1990s when Diana decided to separate from Prince Charles amid rumours of affairs. The late princess was spending the Christmas holiday with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, when she decided to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.
Stewart stars in the film opposite “Poldark” star Jack Farthing who plays Prince Charles. The cast also includes BAFTA nominee Timothy Spall (“Mr. Turner”), Academy Award nominee Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”) and Sean Harris (“Mission: Impossible – Fallout”). The film comes out in 2022 to mark the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death.
The Venice Film Festival declined to comment on Monday.
Neon and Topic Studios have jointly acquired the U.S. rights to the movie in June 2020. The film is expected to be an Oscar contender. Larrain’s last film “Jackie” earned Natalie Portman a best actress nomination for playing Jackie Kennedy Onassis in the days after JFK’s assassination. “Spencer” was produced by Juan de Dios Larraín (“Jackie”) for Fabula Films, Jonas Dornbach and Janine Jackowski (“Toni Erdmann”) for Komplizen Film and BAFTA winner and Oscar nominee Paul Webster (“Anna Karenina”) for Shoebox Films.
Other high-profile movies set to world premiere at Venice include “Dune,” Denis Villeneuve’s big-budget sci-fi epic starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, which will play out of competition.
While Venice is assembling a starry lineup, the ongoing pandemic and rise of variants is casting a shadow over the festival which is scheduled to kick off Sept. 1. With a resurgence of cases across several countries, there could be travel bans restored, notably with the U.S., though the situation is still fluid. The Cannes Film Festival, which has been running for 6 days so far, has reported several COVID-19 cases despite a strict protocol.