“The Crown” star Elizabeth Debicki says it was 'harrowing' to recreate Diana's final hours

The actress talks to EW about playing the Princess on the day before her fatal car crash in Paris.

The Crown star Elizabeth Debicki tells EW that she was apprehensive prior to reading the scripts for the sixth and final season of Netflix's royal family drama. That's understandable. The season's initial episodes depict the burgeoning romance between Debicki's Princess Diana and Khalid Abdalla's Dodi Fayed, a relationship which was brought to a tragic end in August 1997 when the couple and their driver were killed in a Paris car crash after being pursued by paparazzi. While the show does not depict their actual deaths, Debicki admits the scripts were a tough read, given her knowledge of how Diana and Dodi's story ended.

"I’ll be really honest, I was nervous to read [the scripts] because I knew it was my task to bring it to life," Debicki tells EW. "There was this apprehension. There’s a sense of like, please, please, please don’t let that be the story, but you know it’s going to be the story. It’s quite an unusual experience. I read episodes [one through four] in one sitting very quickly. I was really, really devastated at the end of it. It really moved me, it moved me just thinking about it, and I also sort of felt the weight. It was during the hiatus between seasons and, once I opened that book, I knew that I couldn’t shut it again until we filmed it. There was a real sense of what I’ve always felt making this show, which was a really deep responsibility, but particularly with this piece of the story, the weight of the tragedy, it sort of became a part of me during the process of making it."

<p>Daniel Escale/Netflix</p> Elizabeth Debicki and Khalid Abdalla in 'The Crown'

Daniel Escale/Netflix

Elizabeth Debicki and Khalid Abdalla in 'The Crown'

The actress recalls shooting the scenes leading up to the pair's passing, which find Diana and Dodi traveling between various locales in Paris pursued by photographers at every turn, to be a particularly demanding experience.

"It was very harrowing," Debicki says. "Being pursued in that way makes you feel incredibly trapped, incredibly drained. After a little while, I think Khalid and I felt we were just in this kind of hamster wheel of high-octane energy that we just couldn’t really escape. There’s a point in making those sequences where you just feel like you’re on this kind of Groundhog Day journey where a car pulls up, and people are banging on the window, and you have to manage that, and it was really difficult. But, for me, on an acting level, I leant in, and let myself in a way just stop acting, and just react to what was happening. It helped me understand the intensity of that, and it also helped me understand how unbearable it was, and how precious silence becomes, and how precious privacy becomes."

Part 1 of The Crown season 6 is now streaming on Netflix. Part 2 debuts Dec. 14.

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