“The Crown’s” Khalid Abdalla’s Approach to Dodi Fayed’s Relationship With Princess Diana

Abdalla says that preparing to portray Fayed was challenging due to the scarcity of information compared to the wealth of archival footage on the royal family.

“The Crown’s” Khalid Abdalla’s Approach to Dodi Fayed’s Relationship With Princess Diana
In "The Crown," Khalid Abdalla portrays Dodi Fayed opposite Elizabeth Debicki's Princess Diana. Photo credit: Netflix

Actor Khalid Abdalla, who portrays Dodi Fayed in seasons 5 and 6 of "The Crown" (2016 – 2023), recently spoke about the pride he took in bringing attention to Fayed's life beyond his well-known romance with Princess Diana. For many viewers, Abdalla’s portrayal of Fayed is their first glimpse into who Fayed was beyond being the man who died in a car crash with the Princess of Wales in 1997.

Preparing to portray Fayed involved a challenge due to the scarcity of information compared to the wealth of archival footage on the royal family. Abdalla says the first thing he wanted to know before playing Fayed was what Fayed sounded like. The research team for “The Crown” began searching for audio and managed to uncover a 17-second clip of Fayed calling into “Larry King Live” (1985 – 2010). From there, Abdalla says his research involved talking to Fayed’s friends and delving into articles hidden deep in Google. Abdalla aims to deconstruct Fayed’s label as a "playboy" to reveal a more nuanced, gentle soul.

Abdalla sought to understand Fayed's relationship with Princess Diana, finding significance in a tender moment of the two holding hands that was captured in CCTV footage. “There was a tenderness, Abdalla says. “There was a falling in love of some kind.”

For Season 6, Abdalla worked with the show’s research team to organize chronological photos of Fayed and Diana, tracing the evolving story of their relationship and emphasizing the media scrutiny and other key moments of their connection. 

Abdalla also discussed shedding light on Dodi Fayed's life outside the British gaze, expressing pride in contributing to the understanding of a figure largely unknown for 26 years. 

Beyond personal legacy, Abdalla saw this portrayal as an opportunity to highlight the importance of recognizing and valuing the lives of Muslim Arab men in film, emphasizing the scarcity of such representation in media. He emphasized the lack of representation for Arab characters in film and the importance of acknowledging their lives and mourning their deaths. “When you think of the number [of Arabs and Arab characters] who have died and been killed in wars over my lifetime … it tells you something about our cultural and political imagery that is particularly resonant right now,” Abdalla said. “And it’s one of the things that makes me incredibly proud of this work.”

“The Crown” will release its finale, Part 2 of Season 6, on Dec. 14 only on Netflix. In the meantime, you can read Abdalla's full conversation with The Hollywood Reporter at the link below.

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