Emma Corrin, who captures the essence of Princess Diana superbly in the new season of The Crown, admitted that she nearly fell flat on her face when it came to the dancing scenes
‘I definitely could not dance,’ said the actress, even though she spent many days and nights learning the various steps.
‘Diana’s love of dance was how she expressed herself emotionally, I think,’ Corrin told me. The Princess, often so shy in the early years of her public life, came alive on the dance floor.
And Corrin? ‘There was a running joke at school that I danced like a spider because my limbs are too long,’ she said. When it came to preparing for The Crown, ‘I knew jazz and tap,’ she told me.
‘But it’s hard to learn ballet when you’re 24! I really held on to the fact that Diana wasn’t a professional dancer.’
The Princess clearly understood the powerful psychological benefits of dance.
So in The Crown, we see Corrin’s Diana rollerskating down the grand, empty corridors of Buckingham Palace.
But not even that girlish escapism can help when, with the wedding nearing, and Charles (the superb Josh O’Connor) away, she discovers the truth about the intimate relationship between ‘Fred’ and ‘Gladys’ (the nicknames Charles and Camilla used).
She calls the palace switchboard and demands to speak to the Queen. ‘Don’t fob me off! It’s absolutely essential that I see the Queen. This wedding can’t go ahead. It’ll be a disaster for everyone.’
Later, she confronts Charles. ‘Everything all right in Gloucestershire?’ she asks pointedly, alerting him to the fact that she knows he went straight to Camilla after an overseas trip.
‘Diana’s love of dance was how she expressed herself emotionally, I think,’ Corrin told me. The Princess, often so shy in the early years of her public life, came alive on the dance floor
Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter) knows there’s trouble brewing.
‘Charles loves someone else,’ she tells a gathering of the Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Anne (respectively played by Olivia Colman, Marion Bailey and Erin Doherty).
‘We have to stop them, now.’
In another key scene, Diana takes to the stage with dancer Wayne Sleep as a ‘treat’ for Charles’s birthday. The Prince is outraged by what he sees as his wife showing off.
The full season four of The Crown will be on Netflix from November 15.
In another key scene, Diana takes to the stage with dancer Wayne Sleep as a ‘treat’ for Charles’s birthday. The Prince is outraged by what he sees as his wife showing off
Thomas meets his (chess) match
Thomas Brodie-Sangster agreed to play a chess champion in Netflix’s addictive new mini-series The Queen’s Gambit before even reading the script.
‘I thought, “Oh, OK. Chess player — interesting. There’s going to be tweed suits and things.’
When he got to the costume fitting ‘there’s this long, black trench coat — and a Stetson! And they asked me to grow my facial hair out.’
The 30-year-old South Londoner laughed and said it turned out he was sporting almost exactly the same attire he wore for the Western TV series Godless — which, like The Queen’s Gambit, was directed by Scott Frank. ‘It’s funny they ended up dressing me the same way again.’
He plays Benny Watts, a headstrong young chess grandmaster with an engaging rock-star sensibility. Fronted by a sensational Anya Taylor-Joy, the show crept on to Netflix last month with little fanfare but has become a surprise hit, thanks to its great cast, its unusual storyline and thrillingly filmed matches.
When he got to the costume fitting ‘there’s this long, black trench coat — and a Stetson! And they asked me to grow my facial hair out’
Benny enjoys being the centre of attention and is intrigued when Taylor-Joy’s gifted and glamorous Beth Harmon arrives on the scene, challenging his status.
‘He’s got this commanding presence, which is more a tactic to intimidate the enemy,’ Brodie-Sangster told me. ‘But he meets his match in Beth.’
The actor, who won fame as Sam, the smitten schoolboy in Love Actually back in 2003, knew what all the chess pieces were and how to move them around the board, but wasn’t skilled in strategy.
Enter the chess tutors. ‘Everyone took the chess very seriously — and everyone was pretty damn good by the end of it,’ he told me. ‘It made us feel like we were real chess masters, but we were just actors, memorising moves.’
Still, his new-found expertise came in handy when taking on his mum, or girlfriend, singer-songwriter Gzi Wisdom.
Director Scott Frank acquired the rights to Walter Tevis’s 1983 novel several years ago, intending to make a feature film.
But after Godless, which featured a frontier town full of women surviving on their own, he realised that The Queen’s Gambit would make a better TV drama.
As in Godless, Beth finds herself in a traditionally male-dominated world, but she turns that to her advantage. ‘He writes very nicely for women, without it being pushed,’ Brodie-Sangster agreed.
Since the pandemic struck, he has been motoring away on his passion: fixing up vintage motorbikes and cars. He’s been working on a 1978 Yamaha bike, and a 1974 Citroen DS, which have ‘character and essence within them that modern cars and bikes don’t’.
‘You don’t need all this fancy equipment to diagnose,’ he said of his home auto-repairs. ‘You just get a screwdriver out. I’m not incredibly talented at it; it’s more of a pastime.’
The actor told me he has fond memories of Love Actually. ‘I don’t quite understand it, but the film’s still got legs,’ he said, joking that it’s nearly Christmas, ‘so it’ll be back on again’.
‘It’s a little bit cheesy, but it’s lovely, and it’s funny. I had a great time on it. It was such a special part of my life and career.’
He said he enjoyed making the Red Nose Day Actually short film, that reunited the original cast in 2017. And he’d definitely jump on board if a follow-up was made.
His transition from child star to adult actor was surprisingly smooth — something he puts down to his family. ‘Family can be whatever you want it to be,’ he stated.
‘The people who are closest to you, who you love the most, who you can trust, especially in a world that can be very mad — fun but fickle — and ridiculous.’