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Exclusive: Red, White & Royal Blue director Matthew Lopez breaks down seven key moments from spicy new film

Stephen Fry and Uma Thurman also star in Red, White & Royal Blue 

Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zahkar Perez as Prince Henry and Alex Claremont-Diaz
Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
Los Angeles correspondentLos Angeles
11 August 2023
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Four years after author Casey McQuiston's gay romcom book Red White & Royal Blue hit the New York Times bestsellers list, the film adaptation has hit screens – and yes, it's just as spicy as the book. 

Tony winning director Matthew Lopez (The Inheritance) makes his directorial debut with the Prime Video movie, which stars Taylor Zahkar-Perez as Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the President of the United States (Uma Thurman), and Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Henry, the third child of the heir to the British throne who is a closeted gay man. 

Official trailer for Red, White, & Royal Blue

Alex and Henry are forced to become fake friends after an incident at Henry's brother's wedding almost causes an international scandal, but soon discover that they have far more in common than first impressions suggested. The classic enemies-to-lovers trope was given a fresh spin in Casey's beloved book but Matthew admits that his version is "very similar and also simultaneously very different," telling HELLO!: "I know that's probably a controversial thing to say but it wouldn't have served the story very well [to be 100% faithful.]" 

For HELLO!, Matthew breaks down seven key moments beloved by fans, including Alex and Henry's first on-screen meeting and why there would be no film without Nick and Taylor. 


Alex and Henry's First Meeting:

Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Henry and Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex Claremont-Diaz in Prime Video's Red, White & Royal Blue.© Jonathan Prime
Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Henry and Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex Claremont-Diaz in Prime Video's Red, White & Royal Blue.

Alex and Henry first met at the fictional Melbourne Climate Conference several years before the film begins, but on screen we see them reuniting at the wedding of Prince Philip (Thomas Flynn), Henry's older brother, and his bride-to-be Martha (Bridget Benstead). The scene begins with Alex and friend Nora (Rachel Hilson) standing on the receiving line as Prince Philip and Martha, and later Henry and sister Princess Beatrice (Ellie Bamber) greet the guests. 

But Matthew reveals that their first meeting on-screen was originally going to be in front of the cake, before he realized the audience would need more context. 

"The initial meeting on screen was when they met up in front of the cake but I realized watching the film that I needed to introduce and create a sense of animosity between them earlier and so that's how the receiving line scene came about," shares Matthew. These additional scenes were then completed in January 2023. 

Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex Claremont-Diaz and Uma Thurman as President Ellen Claremont© Jonathan Prime
Uma Thurman stsars as President Ellen Claremont

The receiving line scene is also a wonderful example of the wildness Taylor brings to the screen as Alex, something that Matthew says he never needed to coach Taylor on. 

"Taylor brought a lot of that chaotic energy himself from the beginning, but what was remarkable was that as I was working with Taylor, I started to see that this actually is not who he is; Taylor in reality, while a very gregarious, open and warm person is quieter, and sometimes a little shyer – very much not Alex."

Casting for the film began in 2021 over Zoom meetings, but Matthew says the chemistry between Taylor and Nicholas was "instantaneous".

"When we put them together in a chemistry read - and we did it on Zoom because everybody was in different cities at the time - it was instantaneous. I remember texting my producer who was also on the Zoom and I was like, 'We have them here. We have a movie.'" 

The Storming of Kensington Palace: 

Taylor Zahkar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine as Alex and Henry lie on the stairs of Kensington Palace© Amazon Prime
Matthew says the chemistry between Taylor and Nicholas was 'instantaneous'

The Storming of Kensington, a beloved scene in the book, comes after Henry leaves Texas in the middle of the night, returning to London and ghosting Alex for weeks. Alex, after some advice from Nora, hops on a plane and arrives at Kensington Palace to wake Henry and demand answers. 

For Matthew, this scene was an important one, but one that he felt needed a different energy than what is on the page.

"It is very similar and it's also simultaneously very different to the book which I think is just one way of describing this entire movie," he says. "Casey said to me after watching it for the second or third time, 'It's like there's my book, and then there's your movie and the two are very, very similar and also very different,' which is good because if the movie was so faithful to the book, it, I don't even think it would please the fans of the book. 

"I know that's probably a controversial thing to say but it wouldn't have served the story very well."

Best LGBTQ romance novels that are a must-read

  • What If It's Us - Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
  • In at the Deep End - Kate Davies
  • The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee
  • One Last Stop - Casey McQuiston
  • Conventionally Yours - Annabeth Albert 
  • Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters
  • Heartstopper - Alice Oseman
  • Cemetery Boys - Aiden Thomas
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Charm Offensive - Alison Cochrun
  • Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli
  • The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller
  • Red, White and Royal Blue - Casey McQuiston
  • Boyfriend Material - Alexis Hall
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

He continues: "I needed to observe the logic of a film and trust that I had internalized the emotional truths of the book and the Storming of Kensington in the book is a lot more chaotic and Alex is highly charged. 

"When we were in rehearsals, and Taylor and Nick and I began to really delve into that scene, we realized quickly that if Alex came on that strong then Henry, given where he is mentally, would simply say, 'well, get out,' and kick Alex out. So we knew implicitly that we needed to do a different version of that scene, one in which Alex isn't at all certain of success. 

"In the book, Alex is willing to burn down the castle in order to get what he wants, and although the scene actually uses a lot of dialogue from the book, our Alex in the film knows that if this doesn't work, their relationship is over. So he's a little more careful with Henry, more fearful, and Henry is more heartbroken, and those decisions really determined everything else that followed in the scene." 

Alex and Henry's first date in Paris: 

Tylor Zahkar Perez in character as Alex Claremont-Diaz sits at a table in Red, White and Royal Blue
Alex and Henry's first date is in Paris

Alex and Henry's first date is in Paris, France, and it was also the first day of filming for the cast and crew. 

"I remember thinking it was a perfect scene to start with because Alex and Henry are a bit nervous with each other as it's their first date and they're trying to present in the world as just two friends having lunch together in Paris, but the truth is they're on their first date and they're very nervous. 

"It was my first day filming as a filmmaker ever while Taylor and Nick had just spent two weeks rehearsing with each other and were just getting to know each other well. In Sidney Lumet's book on filmmaking he says something along the lines of, 'your first day of filming can be somewhere in the middle of the movie because the actors don't quite know who they are yet and that's okay because the audience is still figuring it out too'." 

The changing of Henry's name: 

Prince Henry does karaoke in Red, White and Royal Blue
Prince Henry's name has been changed in the movie

Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor is Prince Henry's full name in the book, but Matthew made the decision to change Henry's last name on screen to Fox-Hanover-Stewart, simply because Mountchristen-Windsor was too closely associated with the real British royals. 

The scene comes during Henry and Alex's first date in Paris, but Matthew shares that it was a simple directorial decision: "Before we even started to get into rehearsals, Nick and I were talking and I decided I didn't want the audience to think about the actual British Royals. If people are watching this film and they're thinking about the Windsors, then it would have taken them out of the film, and it would have broken the fairytale."

Zahra discovers Henry in Alex's hotel room: 

Prince Henry gets caught in a wardrobe in Red, White and Royal Blue© Amazon Prime Video
Prince Henry gets caught in a wardrobe by Zahra

Sarah Shahi is arguably the MVP of this film. As Zahra Bankston, she plays President Claremont's Deputy Chief of Staff who is tasked with handling Alex and Henry's fake friendship before famously discovering them together the morning after the Democratic National Convention. 

The scene is played beautifully as Zahra at first believes Alex has welcomed a woman into his hotel room, only to realize that it is, in fact, Prince Henry – and that the pair have not been particularly ept at keeping their romance quiet. 

Sarah Shahi in character as Zahra Bankston in Prime Video's Red, White & Royal Blue.© Jonathan Prime
Sarah Shahi as Zahra Bankston in Prime Video's Red, White & Royal Blue.

Sarah plays the scene for laughs, and Matthew shares that there is one moment that was all Sarah: "She didn't ad-lib too much, but for her it was about filling the space, like when she's moving through the room – checking out the wardrobe, I told her to look behind the sofa, – and then as she was moving from space to space I told her to say whatever she felt she wanted to fill that time, and Taylor responded in kind. 

"But that mini panic attack? I did not know I would be getting that from her on the day; I didn't tell her to do that! And when Taylor is like, 'Oh, there, you want to sit there?', at that moment he was just responding to Sarah collapsing on the bed." 

The Victoria and Albert Museum: 

Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex Claremont-Diaz and Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Henry© Jonathan Prime
Alex and Prince Henry dance in the V+A Museum in London

Fans of the book know that the Victoria and Albert Museum plays a large role itself in the book; it is Prince Henry's safe place, where he takes Alex and reveals he had always dreamed of taking a loved one there for a private showing. 

In the film, as in the book, the pair dance together here as they vow to make their relationship work, come what may. This scene is also Matthew's favorite scene, "because it's the only scene in the film that is actually filmed at the location that it's set". 

"That night was very beautiful and I think it's reflected in what you see on screen; there's a magic to that place at night and I like to think we captured it," he adds. 

Alex's pet name for Henry:

Alex and Henry together in Red, White and Royal Blue
Alex and Henry spend time together in Texas

As the pair's emails leak, and they are forced apart by their handlers, Henry in particular is left feeling adrift and alone. When Zahra finally gets a call through to Shaan (Akshay Khanna), Henry's equerry, and allows Alex to speak to Henry, we see Henry holding the phone up to his ear as Alex, off-screen, whispers, 'Baby.'

Alex's use of the term of endearment 'baby' is a big fan favorite in the book but it almost didn't make it into the film – and after attending fan screenings, Matthew shares that it has now become his favorite moment to watch with others. 

"At the London fan screening, when we got to that moment, you hear him say 'baby' over the phone to him and the entire audience swooned and that was very unexpected and delightful.

"It's been wonderful to share this film with the fans. They have been so warm, so loving, so eager to receive the story, and they've really done everything you want an audience to do which has been incredibly gratifying."

Alex and Henry see each other across the dance floor in Red, White and Royal Blue
Alex and Henry see each other across the dance floor

What is the release date for Red, White & Royal Blue movie? 

Red, White & Royal Blue is available on Prime Video now. 

Who is in the Red, White & Royal Blue cast? 

Taylor Zakhar-Perez, Nicholas Galitzine, Rachel Hilson, Malcom Atrobah, Uma Thurman, Stephen Fry, Sarah Shahi and Akshay Khanna.

Who will Stephen Fry play in Red, White & Royal Blue? 

Stephen Fry plays the King of England, Prince Henry's grandfather.

What is the Red, White & Royal Blue movie length? 

Red, White & Royal Blue is 118 minutes.

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