After several months of waiting, the highly anticipated LGBTQ rom-com, Red, White, & Royal Blue, is now available for our viewing pleasure.
Adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by Casey McQuiston and directed by Tony Award-winning playwright Matthew López (The Inheritance), the film stars Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the President of the United States, and Nicholas Galitzine, as Britain’s Prince Henry, who have a total disdain for each other. After a very public altercation at a royal event, the duo are forced into a staged truce. However, when their façade turns into undeniable chemistry, the two young men must decide how far they are each willing to go for love, as they challenge tradition, duty, and expectations.
Red, White, & Royal Blue also stars Oscar nominee Uma Thurman as U.S. President Ellen Claremont, Clifton Collins Jr. as Congressman and First Gentleman, Oscar Diaz, Sarah Shahi as White House Deputy Chief-of-Staff Zahra Bankston, Rachel Hilson as Nora Holleran, the granddaughter of the Vice President and Alex’s best friend, and award-winning actor Stephen Fry as the King of England.
Instinct had the opportunity to sit down and talk more with López about bringing this beloved queer romance to life onscreen, as well as sitting in the director’s seat for the very first time, what made Perez and Galitzine perfect for their roles, how meaningful it was for him to be involved with this film.
Let me begin by asking, how excited are you for Red, White, & Royal Blue to finally premiere on Prime Video?
Very excited! It’s funny, after all these years working on the film, it’s amazing to think that it’s finally here. I’m ready for people to see it.
This is your directorial debut. How meaningful has this journey been for you, and what did you take away from this experience?
It’s been incredibly meaningful in many ways. One, I wanted to be a filmmaker since I was a teenager, so to have the opportunity to do this has been great, but also, that it’s in service of this particular story. It feels like a real blessing. I fell madly in love with this book when I first read it, and I chased this job. No one came and asked if I wanted to do this movie. I went to them and told them I was doing this movie. We were very, very blessed and lucky to have a fun and happy shoot. It was a real lovefest.
For any up-and-coming first-time directors, what is some advice you can offer them?
Hire Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine (laughs). No, I would say, you have to find the balance of trusting your instincts and being willing to challenge your assumptions.
Circling back to Taylor and Nicholas, in your opinion, what made them perfect for the roles of Alex and Prince Henry?
In relation to these roles, there is a quality to each of them that I think is impossible to define. When we were casting these parts and I met Nicholas and Taylor, it became very quickly apparent to me that these were the guys. They are, at the core, tremendously talented and gifted actors. They understood their characters very, very, very well from the beginning.
Taylor is fantastic at transforming himself into something he isn’t. He is so different from his character, and while Taylor is funny and gregarious, he is also quite shy and very quiet at times. Taylor allowed himself to become this human cannonball. Then with Nicholas, he is very adept at protecting a character that he’s playing. Taylor sort of stepped into the body of Alex and became him, while Nick sort of took the character of Prince Henry and held him.
Both approached their roles in very different ways and created these indelible performances that you see.
We also have the amazing Uma Thurman playing the President of the United States. What was it like working with her?
Oh, it was a dream come true! To be perfectly honest with you, I was a little nervous because she is Uma Thurman, and I was a first-time filmmaker having my first experiences every day. But like I said, it was a dream come true. She came to set so eager to play this role and tell this story. I think very few actors would ever pass up a chance to play the President of the United States if it was the right circumstance, and I think Uma was no different.
One of the things that I loved about Uma, which I really appreciated, was that she very early on in the process decided to trust me, and that gave me a lot of confidence. That also instilled in me a real sense of responsibility. If someone like Uma is going to trust me, then I better earn it.
When a book is turned into a film, the author is sometimes heavily involved with the project. How hands-on was Casey McQuiston, or did you have free artistic range?
Casey gave me a lot of space, and like with Uma, Casey gave me a lot of trust. That said, however, I still needed and wanted Casey’s approval, encouragement, and endorsement for things. There were some things I wanted to do, and I needed to explain to Casey why I wanted to do them, but overall, she paid me the great compliment of leaving me alone.
Again, like Uma, she did so because she trusted me, but I knew I also needed to earn her trust. Casey has been such a big and supportive part of this team from the beginning. It was exciting to share everything with her throughout the process, and then of course, showcasing the final product to Casey for the first time was incredibly nerve-wracking and wonderful.
Which scene was your absolute favorite to direct?
I really love the scene where they go into the museum in the middle of the night. We got to shoot in the middle of the night, and it’s the only place in the entire movie where we got to shoot on location. That was magical, and it was just me, Taylor, and Nicholas for six hours. It was great.
What do you ultimately hope audiences take away from Red, White, & Royal Blue?
At the end of the day, I just hope people have fun, and I hope they have an emotional experience with the movie. If they don’t know the book, I hope they fall as madly in love with Alex and Henry as I did when I first read it, and for those who do know the book, I hope they see in this movie something that was made by a fellow fan. I hope they see a version of the story that they fell in love with, and they will want to celebrate it.