The Crown season 4: The specter of Diana and magical casting of Emma Corrin

If there’s one reason to tune into The Crown season 4, it’s for Emma Corrin’s Diana, who embodies the late “people’s princess” in dialect, bearing, and packs an emotional punch.

Actress Emma Corrin has done her homework to portray Princess Diana in the fourth season of Netflix’s The Crown. It is sad that she will only get one season to tackle the role, but what she does with that singular season will haunt you.

From the moment that Lady Diana Spencer enters the scene in The Crown season four, Corrin casts a ghostly pall. Her appearance has been highly anticipated, and Corrin is making sure that all the hype is worthwhile.

First, there is the hauntingly accurate voice and mannerisms. Corrin talked about preparing her Diana portrayal when she got the casting call — starting with the iconic voice — by cleverly bringing in a helpful resource: her speech therapist mom.

“No matter what Diana is saying, it kind of goes down at the end,” said Corrin in a Town & Country interview to promote The Crown‘s new season. “It’s like a sadness.”

It’s not just the spectral voice that Corrin embodies Diana with, but also her demeanor. The actress talked in the T&C piece about working with her movement coach, Polly Bennett, for six months in abstract ways, focusing on things such as how Diana would lean into a doorframe.

With the rest of the clan having had a year to grow into their roles (Olivia Coleman and Helena Bonham Carter, in particular, seem to be more compelling in their second Crown go-around), Corrin’s Diana needs no build-up to chew up the scenery once she’s disrupted their comfort zone. In fact, The Crown‘s series creator Peter Morgan credited Corrin’s outsider status as the key to her success in the role.

“If we had gotten an experienced actress, it would have been an actress acting being nervous,” Morgan explained in the T&C interview, citing her nervousness as “enormously helpful.”

Because we know the tragic end that awaits Princess Diana, it will be difficult to contemplate the early narrative with the Windsors, including the beginning of her romance with Prince Charles, her difficult battle with bulimia, the joy she finds in early motherhood, and the burgeoning capture of the public’s imagination. Her tragic inevitability seems to taint her Crown storyline with an underlying darkness.

Even the wedding to Prince Charles seems weighted with the possibility of disappointment. We won’t be treated to a recreation of that spectacle. We don’t have to be. That’s not the story The Crown is telling this season. There are no fairytales to promote; this is the season to pierce that veil.

“We were filming the scene when you first see her in the wedding dress — I think it was Lancaster House in London — and I had a team of about 10 people helping me put it on, because it’s massive,” said Corrin in British Vogue last month. “I walked out and everyone went completely silent. More than anything else I wear in the series, it’s so…It’s her.”

Charles Is Fully Cast

Matching Emma Corrin is Josh O’Connor, who is back as Charles in The Crown‘s season 4, after being so excellent in the third season. We will get their fascinating not-a-fairytale marriage in all its shapes and forms, including iconic times when they kindled their romance, followed of course by plenty of discourse.

We also now know who will play Charles in the final two seasons: The Affair’s and The Wire’s Dominic West, who has recently weathered his own marriage rumors. Talks are supposedly still being finalized about his take on the older Prince of Whales, who will act out the disintegration of his marriage to Elizabeth Debicki’s Diana for The Crown seasons 5 and 6. The penultimate chapter will conclude with the tragic death of Princess Diana.

West is sure to bring his customary excellent form to the role, but I will admit that O’Connor will be sorely missed after this fourth season.

The fourth season of The Crown drops on Netflix on November 15. Stay tuned here for a full review of the season and further updates and features about the show!