Who Should Play Princess Diana In Ryan Murphy’s New Show, Feud?

Princess Diana Prince Charles engagement photo

by Katie Rosseinsky |

When TV supremo Ryan Murphy announced that the second season of his latest show Feud would delve into the ups and downs of Princess Diana's marriage to Prince Charles, we had one major question: which actress would make a convincing 'people's princess?'

'The thing I was struck about was how real she was and how great she was with those kids. She was an ordinary person put in an extraordinary circumstance,' Murphy told Entertainment Weekly. 'Whoever plays those parts, it’s a big role, but we’re approaching those people with love and understanding and kindness. A lot of people want to do it.'

The last actress to play the late Princess of Wales was Naomi Watts in 2012's biopic Diana, the reviews of which were almost universally damning. Now, with Feud: Charles and Diana and future seasons of The Crown needing to cast their Diana, we've taken a look at some of the potential contenders...

Sarah Paulson

sarah paulson princess diana feud casting
Sarah Paulson and Princess Diana ©Getty Images

Why she'd be great: Paulson is a long-time favourite of Feud showrunner Ryan Murphy: she's starred in every season of American Horror Story, won the Emmy and the Golden Globe for The People vs. OJ Simpson and is appearing in the current season of Feud, Bette and Joan. Her AHS co-star Kathy Burke also repeatedly referred to her as 'the people's princess' (which Diana was famously nicknamed) during a recent panel interview at LA television festival Paleyfest...

Why it wouldn't work: Google 'Sarah Paulson British accent' and we'll let you come to your own conclusions. The actress tried one out briefly for the Roanoke season of American Horror Story, and the results were mixed. Could she master the very specific pronunciation of the English upper classes (and, crucially, sustain it over eight episodes)?

Emily Blunt

emily blunt princess diana feud
Emily Blunt and Princess Diana ©Getty Images

Why she'd be great: A two hour film starring Emily Blunt is great. An eight to ten hour mini series starring Blunt as Princess Diana? Even better. She's got the poise and inherent Britishness to make a convincing royal stand-in (she's already played Queen Victoria, after all) plus some serious Hollywood star power. We need this to happen.

Why it wouldn't work: Is Emily Blunt too big a star for the small screen? A few years ago, we would have said yes, but with the likes of Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon now appearing in HBO's Big Little Lies and Amy Adams lined up for the same network's Gillian Flynn adaptation Sharp Objects, it's hard to be sure. Star power notwithstanding, Emily's IMDb page suggests she's pretty busy for the foreseeable with a mix of prestige projects and more mainstream fare (My Little Pony movie, anyone?)

Laura Carmichael

laura carmichael princess diana
Laura Carmichael and Princess Diana ©Getty Images

Why she'd be great: From Lady Edith to Lady Diana? After six seasons of Downton, Laura Carmichael is well versed in what it takes to bring the machinations of the English upper classes to life on screen. The fact that US audiences and critics are still obsessed with the Crawley family would work in her favour, too, as she's recognisable enough stateside to helm a major show like this.

Why it wouldn't work: Call us selfish (or downright tragic) but in our heart of hearts, we'd still rather that Laura set the time aside to start filming the Downton Abbey movie instead...

Carey Mulligan

carey mulligan princess diana feud casting
Carey Mulligan and Princess Diana ©Getty Images

Why she'd be great: From her debut in An Education through to Shame, Inside Llewyn Davis and The Great Gatsby, Carey Mulligan excels at balancing ingenue roles with edgier fare and would doubtless make light work of Murphy's Feud script. We also know she can pull off the whole blonde crop thing from her Daisy Buchanan days...

Why it wouldn't work: She's taken a step back from acting work recently after welcoming her first child in late 2015 (her first film since that year's Suffragette will be Mudbound, a Sundance hit due to be released later this year). A high profile role like this, though, would certainly mark an interesting return to the small screen...

Romola Garai

romola garai princess diana feud
Romola Garai and Princess Diana ©Getty Images

Why she'd be great: We'd never noticed it before, but British actress Romola Garai certainly bears more than a casual resemblance to Princess Di (at 34, she's also the perfect age to fit into Feud's time scale - Diana was 35 when her divorce from Charles was finalised). Aside from these superficial similarities, though, there's also the fact that she's a great actress who we haven't seen enough of recently - and who could certainly make the the whole 'misunderstood upper classes' thing sympathetic on screen...

Why it wouldn't work: Aside from her role in Suffragette, Romola has focused on homegrown TV projects for the past few years, meaning that her profile is lower across the pond. Murphy might feel that a bigger name (whether British or American) might be a safer bet to pull in viewers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Emilia Clarke

emilia clarke princess diana feud casting
Emilia Clarke and Princess Diana ©Getty Images

Why she'd be great: As a Game of Thrones mainstay since 2011, Emilia Clarke has plenty of experience of prestige TV projects (and of playing - albeit fictional - royalty). She's definitely got the warmth and charm required to play the people's princess, while the emotional demands of the role would be an interesting challenge (and one that could prevent her being typecast post GoT).

Why it wouldn't work: With the final season of Game of Thrones and the as-yet-untitled Han Solo spin-off film already on her schedule, Emilia might not have the time to take on another major project. And after years of wearing that platinum blonde Daenerys wig, there's always the chance she wouldn't want to hit the bleach to play Diana...

READ MORE: 13 Of Princess Diana's Most Inspiring Quotes

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