EXCLUSIVE: Spencer producer Paul Webster has set the record straight following an online furor over the casting of Prince William in the upcoming Kristen Stewart-Princess Diana film, which is due to shoot in Germany early next year.
A casting call for the role of William aged 11 was posted online yesterday, noting that British actors need not apply for the role “due to new Brexit rules from January 1st 2021” when the UK is due to leave the EU. The post was picked up widely by UK media outlets and caused a stir on social media with various actors lamenting that Brits couldn’t be cast in the role due to Brexit’s end of free movement.
However, veteran UK producer Webster told us this evening that the production is in fact meeting with British actors for the part and Brexit is not an impediment on casting.
“We’re meeting British boys all the time for this role,” Webster told us. “If they happen to have an Irish passport all well and good. But it’s not a hindrance to have a British passport. We’re not saying we need a foreigner to play Prince William.
“Many of our cast will be British,” the Oscar-nominated producer of Atonement explained. “Some of our cast will be European to meet certain funding requirements. But this is an official co-production with Europe so we don’t anticipate any issue with our British cast working in Germany. There is no connection to Brexit.”
The UK is due to leave the European Union on December 31, 2020, and so far there is no post-Brexit agreement with the bloc. Leaving the EU will bring to an end freedom of movement for Brits on the continent leading to restrictions on how they can work in Europe. However, certain UK-European co-productions with Brit cast are expected to be able to shoot on the continent thanks to the Council of Europe Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. This is something the BFI has just confirmed to us. That said, there remains uncertainty right to the last on Brexit so nothing is a given or clear. Negotiations are ongoing between the EU and UK over their future relationship.
Casting is in process on Spencer, which was a hot-seller at the virtual Cannes market earlier this year. Pablo Larraín will direct the Steven Knight script about a critical weekend in the early ‘90s, when Princess Diana decided her marriage to Prince Charles wasn’t working, and that she needed to veer from a path that put her in line to one day be queen.
The drama takes place over three days, in one of her final Christmas holidays in the House of Windsor in their Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England.
Jackie director Larraín is producing with Fabula partner Juan de Dios, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski and Webster.
Kristen Stewart recently admitted to nerves and excitement ahead of taking on the biopic: “The accent is intimidating as all hell because people know that voice, and it’s so, so distinct and particular,” she told InStyle last year. “I’m working on it now and already have my dialect coach.”
She continued: “In terms of research, I’ve gotten through two-and-a-half biographies, and I’m finishing all the material before I actually go make the movie. It’s one of the saddest stories to exist ever, and I don’t want to just play Diana — I want to know her implicitly. I haven’t been this excited about playing a part, by the way, in so long.”