Surrounding Watts and Andrews in DIANA is an ensemble of highly accomplished British
actors including Douglas Hodge as Diana's personal butler Paul Burrell, Geraldine James as her
long-time acupuncturist Oonagh Toffolo, Charles Edwards as her private secretary Patrick Jephson
and Juliet Stevenson as Sonia, a composite character based on several of Diana's friends. Each was
hand cast by the filmmakers not for their physical resemblance to their real-life counterparts -- but
rather for an understanding of their characters.
When searching for the right actor to play Burrell, who has since been entangled in numerous
controversies and accusations, Hirschbiegel wanted to look beyond all that, and cast someone who
could show a different side to a man who was with Diana on a daily basis.
"You have to remember that Paul was, at the time, very important to Diana. He loved her and he must
have been devastated when she died," says the director.
At first, Douglas Hodge, the Tony-winning star of "La Cage aux Folles" was unsure about the
whole idea. "When I thought of Paul Burrell, I was cautious," he admits. "But then I heard that Oliver was directing, so I knew there would be a different take on it."
Hodge discovered a massive flood of information about Burrell, from numerous books to
hundreds of hours of footage and even a reality television show. "I did watch it all but I wasn't
interested in doing an exact impersonation. What I was interested in was Paul's devotion to her, and
his attention to detail in her life."
Geraldine James (GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, SHERLOCK HOLMES) also doesn't
look much like Oonagh Toffolo. But for Hirschbiegel, James captured the essence of the holistic Irish
nurse who regularly gave Diana acupuncture and became her trusted confidante. "Geraldine
captured Oonagh's warmth and spirituality perfectly," he says.
Similarly Charles Edwards, who was most recently seen on the runaway-hit DOWNTON
ABBEY bears little resemblance to the real Patrick Jephson, but Hirschbiegel notes, "he had just the
right posture and vibe."
Rounding out the supporting cast is Juliet Stevenson (TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY, BEND IT
LIKE BECKHAM) as the fictionalized Sonia. "Sonia was loosely based on various friends Diana had
around her in those years, including her healer, spiritual advisor and therapist," says Bernstein.
"She's a fusion of all those women in whom Diana confided."
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