After providing viewers with the much complex story of Adolf Hitler's final days in his Berlin bunker as the Second World War draws to an end, German director Oliver Hirschbiegel is ready with the biopic on Princess Diana, which is slated for release in India on 27 September 2013.
We got in touch with the esteemed director and made him answer a few questions. Here’s a low-down:
What made you cast Naomi Watts as the protagonist?
Having done two biographical dramas in Fair Game (2010) and Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar (2011), Naomi has proved herself to be an amazing actress besides being exceptionally talented. Knowing very well that she would do justice to the role I approached her without any hesitation. And true to my observation, she has done a brilliant job.
Was it challenging to work on a personality whose life was surrounded by controversies and speculations all the time?
Well, it was difficult and definitely challenging working on someone who was constantly in media glare. Did you know that Diana remained the object of worldwide media scrutiny during and after her marriage that ended in divorce on 28 August 1996? If the Prince of Wales had ascended the throne after her marriage, Diana would have become queen consort.
Do you have the same kind of expectations going by the fact that your movie The Downfall was critically acclaimed and was also a commercial success?
Well, let me first tell you that there is a lot of difference between The Downfall and Diana. While The Downfall depicted the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's reign over Nazi Germany in 1945, Diana is an intense movie; we have a lot of expectations from the biopic and hope it does well.
How difficult was it to shoot the much talked about accident scene?
Admittedly, it wasn't an easy scene to shoot. We did work a lot on the sequence and have tried to get every bit right.
Filming a biopic is known to be traumatic. Many a times actors have said they have lived through the sorrow and pain of the character right through a movie. What about you?
It is challenging and mentally draining to shoot the intense scenes. I have had moments where I have felt low after the scenes were shot.
Did you have any kind of interaction with the British royalty while filming Diana? Are you apprehensive about the repercussions?
I could not get in touch with the royal family but we did get a chance to speak to Diana's close friends and people who knew her. I would hate to upset them. I hope they feel good about it.
Now coming to The Downfall, tackling a film on the subject of Hitler must have been a great responsibility more so because you are a German filmmaker?
Actually I felt it much more while I was preparing the film; as soon as you shoot the movie you can't think about that too much. You deal with the responsibility in every set up, but you can't let yourself be carried away by that. It's a step-by-step process. But preparing it was really tough. And of course it's not a pleasant subject to deal with. As a civilised human being these are things you hate and detest. Nevertheless you have to dig deep down into it and that's not pleasant.
What was it that appealed to you about the subject?
No matter what subjects I deal with I try to approach it with humanity and try to be as honest with the characters I depict, and as honest with the audience as possible. I don't try to trick them; don't try to use speculative elements just for the sake of getting to the audience. As a matter of fact I try to get to them through honest emotions by creating an atmosphere that drags them into the situation they are watching on screen.
Your future projects?
There are a few projects but it's too early to talk about them.