The Tree of Life actor may star in biopic by Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel about Diana’s affair with Dr Hasnut Khan
guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 November 2011 06.50 EST
Royal connection … Princess Diana in 1989 and Jessica Chastain last year. Photograph: David Hartley/Rex Features/Startraks Photo
The Tree of Life’s Jessica Chastain could be set to play Princess Diana in a film about her relationship with the heart surgeon Dr Hasnat Khan, reports Anne Thompson on Hollywood.
The Princess of Wales was involved with Khan for two years around the time of her divorce from Prince Charles and is said to have considered converting to Islam in order to marry him. The affair ended in 1997.
German film-maker Oliver Hirschbiegel, who made a splash with Downfall, his tale of Hitler’s final days in his Berlin bunker, but followed it up with the poorly received Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake The Invasion, is set to direct. The film, titled Caught in Flight and described as a “love story between a princess locked in a tower and an ordinary man”, is being touted to potential investors at the annual American Film Market in California.
Khan left Britain in 2007 and has only spoken once – to the Sunday Telegraph in 2008 – about the relationship. In his director’s statement to potential investors, Hirschbiegel makes it clear he sees the surgeon as a compassionate and wise figure. Anne Thompson on Hollywood reports the film may reserve a different form of treatment for Diana, with those who have read the screenplay by The Libertine’s Stephen Jeffreys suggesting that it portrays her as a damaged person who stalks the doctor following their breakup.
After their split, Diana struck up a relationship with Dodi Fayed, the son of Harrods owner Mohamed. Caught in Flight aims to shoot next year in Paris, where the princess died in 1997, as well as in Pakistan, Angola and the south of France.
The film joins a pair of separate Diana projects that were announced last year and have not yet seen the light of day. One, based on the book Closely Guarded Secret by her bodyguard Ken Wharfe, was apparently close to signing Charlize Theron to play the lead. The other, Pathé’s broader look at Diana’s entire life, was keen to sign Keira Knightley for the same role.