The new Amazon Original movie Red, White & Royal Blue is anything but a run-of-the-mill rom-com. Based on the best-selling novel by Casey McQuiston, it stars Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zakhar Perez as VIP—as in “very important progenies,” namely, a British prince and the son of the president of the United States—whose transatlantic rivalry blossoms into something more.
But, given the pressures of their high-profile lives, Prince Henry (Galitzine) and Alex Claremont-Diaz (Perez) must decide if they’re willing to go public with their relationship, and if their love can withstand the scrutiny of the spotlight. So, what happens when, to borrow a line from the trailer, "matters of the heart become matters of state”? And what was it like to put a modern spin on the traditional rom-com? We spoke to Galitzine and Zakhar Perez to find out.
Had you read "Red, White & Royal Blue" prior to auditioning for the film?
Nicholas Galitzine: I hadn't heard of the book. I was positively surprised to see the fandom around it, and what a success it was—and not only within the LGBTQIA+ community. In terms of the script [co-written by Tony-winning playwright Matthew López], I just saw a very interesting character, who has a lot of the hallmarks of the people I like to play; a facade of strength, while being an extremely vulnerable person on the inside. Plus, the script had a lot of hallmarks of these classic rom-coms; it had this sort of pop to it. It had a pace to it, a sense of humor … it seemed like an exciting project to be a part of.
Taylor Zakhar Perez: I had not. Somebody called me and was like, ‘There is a project going around in Hollywood and I think you would be great in this role.’ So, I bought the book on my Kindle and read it over the weekend and it was just incredible. I just found myself on this emotional journey with these characters. By the time I was done, I felt very strongly that I would love to be part of the film.
How does "Red, White & Royal Blue" break the mold of rom-coms for today’s audiences?
Galitzine: We’re in an era where we're seeing more Queer stories being told. And we're treading that path as well. It’s a modern romance in that capacity; maybe the situations are slightly different, because one [character] is a young royal and one is the first son of the United States, but their situations are something I think people will be able to identify with. Beyond the Queer love story itself, this is a story of a couple who are trapped by circumstance, by upbringing, by responsibility—and how that can get in the way of love. That’s a very universal feeling. So, it's both modern and traditional.
Perez: At the end of the day, It’s all about the heart at the center of a story. It doesn’t matter what the characters’ sexuality may be, it’s about their journey. At the beginning, these two characters may have some unlikeable qualities, but the audience falls in love with them and everything else falls away. You’re so invested in these two men and the people that surround them. You are really cheering for their happy ending. I think it breaks the mold in a lot of ways, and should be the new blueprint for rom-coms, because the heart is the most important thing about a romantic comedy … and the comedy, of course.
There are some fantastically funny scenes in the film, including one involving a smashed wedding cake that kicks off your characters’ journey. Any fun memories from the set?
Galitzine: From the actor’s perspective, nothing really beats the royal wedding cake scene. That was one of the most fun acting experiences I've ever had. I was cleaning icing out of my ears and crevices for the next few days. I had a shower immediately afterwards, and still I couldn't get some places, but that was just pure joy. The whole crew took turns grabbing a piece of cake and throwing it at us. It was a bonding experience.
Perez: There was a funny moment when I was filming the State Dinner. I had five or six lines left and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Uma [Thurman, who plays the president] and Sharon D. Clarke [who plays the British prime minister] walk over to the monitors to watch filming. I got so in my head watching them watch me and had to ask Matthew for another take, because it was an incredible experience knowing these amazing actors are observing your work. A little nerve-wracking, but I pulled through!
What is your favorite part of your characters’ journey?
Galitzine: I think their time together at the Victoria and Albert Museum really sticks out to me as a defining moment of their relationship. My character, Henry, really shares the last frontier of his vulnerabilities and really opens Pandora's box in a way saying plainly to Alex, ‘This is my life. I'm terrified, but I'm willing to take this risk.’
Perez: Alex can be incredibly sympathetic one moment, and then completely abrasive on the other. There are a lot of dualities in his behavior. The more time he spends with Henry, the more he starts to lean into their relationship. Alex is on his own emotional and maturing journey on top of being in a new relationship, exploring his sexuality and his political aspirations. We had to be really meticulous with each moment that the relationship took, because that was the most important part of the journey.
Can you talk about the importance of representation in mainstream entertainment, and what "Red, White & Royal Blue" might mean to audiences worldwide?
Galitzine: This industry has progressed a lot in the last few years—now, you see these stories portrayed on screen. The film has a wholesome quality to it and a really emotional core. It has all the hallmarks of the romantic comedies that we know and love. I hope people see the movie and see themselves represented in some capacity, or it resonates with them. There was a lot of love and a lot of fanservice put into the movie. I think it's just very joyous and I hope people feel that when they are watching it.
Perez: It is incredible to see the representation in the film, spanning gender, sexuality, and race—both in front of and behind the camera. And knowing the visibility that this film is going to have is so exciting. I hope people leave the film with a sense of compassion for people who aren’t like them, and also have a better understanding of your role in somebody else’s life. Meaning if you don’t relate to the characters, maybe there is someone else in your life that does, and this film helps you bring a greater sense of kindness and understanding to your relationship. This is a classic love story with a twist that transcends sexuality.