Director Pablo Larraín and production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas coined the term “elegant prison” to describe Sandringham House, the setting of much of Neon Spencer. Kristen Stewart plays Princess Diana in the intimate drama that takes place during the nearing end of her marriage to Prince Charles. “This is going to be an exploration of someone’s psychology and how they feel,” says Dyas. “For me, how to enhance the feeling of that character [was] through setting and environment, the things she eats, synergies, and connections with the costumes and makeup. ”
Dyas – who was twice nominated for an Oscar for Start and Passenger who worked with Larraín on the director’s Apple TV+ series Lisey’s story – said they had created an “intricate jigsaw puzzle” of filming sets and locations in Germany. “The most terrifying thing for me, partly because I’m from England, is how I’m going to recreate the Jacobean style architecture, the very distinctive British red brick, in Germany, where everything both neoclassical and gothic styles.
“Obviously we wouldn’t really find anywhere or want to find any that really looked like Sandringham,” Dyas said of Norfolk, England, the property where the royal family spends a few days on vacation. Christmas. Finally, for the exterior, he chose Nordkirchen Castle in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. “We wanted this opulent and austere space that perhaps at first glance gave you that kind of ‘incredible element’ of the royal way of life. … But at the same time, beneath that fragile surface, we want a sense of distress, isolation, and sadness.”
Dyas added that the castle had the desired red brick, “which is quite unusual for Germany. It really strikes a balance between English proficiency, which the building is not necessarily the blueprint for the Sandringham as we know it. And it gave us all these other great advantages – [for instance] This building has a large driveway. “
The interiors were filmed at locations including Nordkirchen and Schlosshotel Kronberg near Frankfurt, which were used for the main interior and Prince Charles’ library. And the library was important to Dyas, as it was the setting for “a tense scene” between Diana and Charles. “Pablo and I are scratching our heads about how to create a room where you can let these two talk,” says Dyas. “We talked about them walking around the room or leaning against their desks, and none of that worked. It occurred to us that it would be nice to have a big feature in that room, like a pool table. “
A deep red snooker table becomes the centerpiece of the scene. “You never have a red pool table – the pool table is always green,” explains Dyas. “It was just sheer sacrifice to do this. … I begged and begged the experts from the UK to redecorate this incredibly beautiful snooker table. ”
In this scene, Diana and Charles stand at opposite ends of the table. “It really helps create a visual barrier between them,” continued Dyas. “They can bet their place and go up against something completely believable in the royal library but only slightly out of the ordinary. And that deep red is really said to attract attention because it tells you that there is something between these people. And we played a lot with those kinds of subtleties in the movie. ”
The production designer also focuses on the importance of food in the production process. “Diana is dealing with bulimia, as we all know, at this point, a very serious illness. And we struggled a lot, Pablo and I, about the presentation of the food. We know it must look great. But how great is that? “Dyas said the production worked with two food stylists. “We have a permanent section in my props department, which is devoted entirely to this kind of chemistry experiment on how to make food look more appealing, beautiful, with a higher degree of glaze than in real life. Products.”
On the set of Sandingham’s pantry, “Pablo wanted Diana’s spontaneity to come to a pantry [Stewart] not allowed to see before bring so she can walk in and pick anything and just eat it. “This needs many replacements for the subsequent ones. “A lot of weird things to say about these things because you’re twirling the idea of beauty with repelling a sense of disgust,” says Dyas.
This story first appeared in the independent November issue of The Hollywood Reporter. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.