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Naomi Watts stars as Diana

Naomi Watts has been cast as Princess Diana in a new biopic tracing the last two years of the troubled royal’s life. Watts bears little physical resemblance to the princess, but the greater challenge may be depicting Diana’s state of mind.

"It is such an honour to be able to play this iconic role," Watts said. "Princess Diana was loved across the world and I look forward to rising to the challenge of playing her on screen."

The film is called Caught in Flight, and will be directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, whose Downfall enjoyed more success as an Internet meme than at the box office. The biopic is bound to attract considerable interest given the numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the princess’s death in a Paris car-crash.

Hirschbiegel’s film will be the first major biopic of the princess, although her death was the centrepiece of Stephen Frears’s The Queen, starring Helen Mirren as the monarch.

There is a mainstream Hollywood fashion for royal themes, after the success of The King’s Speech and American interest in the wedding of Diana’s son William to Kate Middleton. The recent success of The Iron Lady suggests that timely biopics of iconic 80s women can also be a hit.

Although there are no details of the script or approach of the film, the director’s Downfall was about the final days of an iconic leader, with a massive popular following, becoming increasingly paranoid and unpredictable as his enemies closed in. Perhaps that template will be reusable for the Diana film.

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