• Red, White & Royal Blue is a rom-com adaptation of the best-selling novel by Casey McQuiston, featuring an international scandal, great chemistry between its leads, and plenty of swoon-worthy moments.
  • The film follows the romantic journey of Alex, the First Son of the United States, and Prince Henry, who start as enemies but are forced into a fake friendship that soon turns into a real and deepening relationship.
  • Director Matthew López brings a sincere and vulnerable approach to the film, focusing on the genuine feelings and struggles of the characters. The movie aims to deliver a swoon-ily romantic experience and revive the rom-com genre that has fallen out of favor with audiences.

Adapted from the best-selling novel by Casey McQuiston, Red, White & Royal Blue features all the trappings of a good rom-com. An international scandal, great chemistry between its leads, Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine, and plenty of swoon-worthy moments, Red, White & Royal Blue joins the ranks of several straight-to-streaming rom-coms of recent years.

Directed by Matthew López from a screenplay he co-wrote with Ted Malawar, Red, White & Royal Blue follows Alex Claremont-Diaz (Perez), the First Son of the United States, and Prince Henry (Galitzine) on their romantic journey. The pair begin as enemies, but an international incident involving a $75,000 royal wedding cake forces them into a PR-approved friendship. Alex and Prince Henry’s fake friendship becomes a real one before it blossoms into a romantic relationship that deepens their feelings. But their romance is not without its struggles, especially since they’re both public figures, and secrets don’t stay secrets for long.

Related: Red, White & Royal Blue Drops Evocative “First Kiss” Track By Drum & Lace [EXCLUSIVE]

Screen Rant spoke with López about Red, White & Royal Blue, what it was like working with McQuiston, what it meant to bring such a beloved queer romance to life onscreen, what Perez and Galitzine brought to their roles as Alex and Henry, and the state of romantic comedies today.

Matthew López Talks Red, White & Royal Blue

Matthew López on the set of Red, White & Royal Blue with Taylor Zakhar Perez and Uma Thurman
Matthew López on the set of Red, White & Royal Blue with Taylor Zakhar Perez and Uma Thurman

I’ve read the book and I loved it so much. And I love your interpretation of it. How did you get involved with the film, and why did you want it to be your first feature?

Matthew López: I read the book in early 2020. I devoured it in a day and a half. And it was the characters, it was Alex and Henry. And Alex most especially because he reminded me in so many ways of myself. And he also was a character that I’d never encountered before in fiction. And so at that time I was actively looking for my first film, what projects to make, and I just knew that I had to be the person to make this movie. I would’ve just thrown myself in front of a bus if I couldn’t have done it. I pursued it and I didn’t take no for an answer.

And you’re coming from the theater world. Were there any particular experiences that you brought with you that helped you in this process?

Matthew López: As a playwright, you know about structure, and you know about how story works. I had a very, very strong understanding of structure and story from my years as a playwright. And filmmaking is storytelling but using a different set of tools. And so I relied heavily on my training as a playwright and my experience as a playwright. And it really got me through a lot of the experience, a lot of the process of filmmaking. And that which I didn’t know, the technical elements of filmmaking, I learned as I went. I had a really great team around me. I was very adamant that I would be the only person on set who didn’t know what they were doing. And I learned.

You mentioned earlier that Alex specifically meant a lot to you. What did it mean to really bring this beloved character to the screen and focus on this queer romance?

Matthew López: I wasn’t allowed to get it wrong. You know what I mean? And I understood that. And I also knew that it was going to come down to casting. And what I did say to my producers was if we can’t find our Alex and our Henry, and most especially our Alex, we can’t make this movie, or at least I can’t make this movie. And I saw hundreds and hundreds of actors for the role of Alex. And Taylor, he’s so special. That was evident from the beginning of the process of working with him. And I absolutely just saw in him Alex, and I saw Alex in him. And the thing that I really am so proud of is how Taylor and Nick just cared so deeply about their roles and their characters.

And the other thing, too, is that I think they really decided to make their version of Alex and Henry, and they came at it from an organic place rather than trying to say, “Well, in the book they do this, and in the book they do that.” It was just, what do my instincts as an actor lead me to want to do with this role? And I think that they found some beautiful, beautiful things. So yeah, very proud to show these two characters. I couldn’t have done it without these two amazing actors. And for Alex most especially, that my first film has, as its lead, a queer, Latine character, that was important to me.

What I really appreciated about this movie is that there’s a lot of heavy flirting, there’s a lot of longing, there’s some angst, there’s some sensuality. And a lot of rom-coms these days don’t necessarily have any of these traits. What are your thoughts on the overall state of the genre?

Matthew López: It’s no secret that rom-coms have taken it in the teeth lately. They seem to have fallen out of favor with audiences. And I don’t know why because they’ve never fallen out of favor with me. I don’t know. Maybe we live in a world where we’re not as willing as we used to be to surrender to romance. Whatever the case is, just my instincts told me to make something that was just swoon-ily romantic and to not worry about being accused of being cheesy. And I don’t think that we ever do really get cheesy. I think we just get very honest and we get very vulnerable.

And I think that one of the things that I’m proudest about this movie is that it’s sincere. And by sincere, I mean the feelings are genuine, and they’re rooted in a reality that the characters feel that is very urgent for them. And there’s some danger in the story for these characters. And we always wanted to make sure that every beat of this film, even when we were engaging in very romantic moments or in high comedy and farce, we just wanted to root it in a sense of reality. We never wanted the audience to question the reality of the film.

red white royal blue interview

That really comes to light in Henry’s story because there are two opposing views in the film, with Alex being more comfortable with who he is and Henry being pressured by his family and society in general to hide who he is. What is your take on these perspectives?

Matthew López: It’s funny, in the book, it’s quite a feat that Casey pulls off in making you feel tremendous compassion for a rich white boy who has seemingly all the power and access in the world. Because you realize that he doesn’t. And you realize, actually, one of the things that I think is so beautiful about Casey’s novel is that you actually realize that this rich white boy has fewer options in his life than this working class Mexican-American kid. And once you understand that Alex has more choices in his life than Henry does, once it dawns on you that Henry is trapped, you can’t help but feel for him.

And one of the things I’ve always loved about this book and the POV I wanted to bring to the film is that this is about two people who find themselves by finding each other. And this is a rescue mission in some ways. Alex engages in a rescue mission to save Henry. And in doing so, Alex finally grows up, Alex finally self actualizes. I think Alex discovers in the story that he has a lot more power in the world than he ever thought that he did. And one of the joys of watching Alex is to watch him understand that and to harness it.

As with any adaptation comes the struggle of what to adapt to the screen. And I noticed that some subplots and June, specifically, are missing from the story. What were behind the decisions to cut them out?

Matthew López: What I will say, in a broader and more general way as the director, is that I had two hours to tell my tale and Casey had 500 pages. Inevitably, there will be things that are not included in the movie. And my main goal, my only goal, was to deliver Alex and Henry safely at the end of the story intact. And to have Alex and Henry be recognizable to the audience who love the book so much. Anything that doesn’t deliver Alex and Henry’s story I knew implicitly didn’t belong in the film. No matter how beloved it might be in the novel.

Nothing was going to eat away at my two hours if it wasn’t about directly influencing Alex and Henry’s story. And so I decided to be ruthless about that for the good of the film. And my main goal really was a simple one, which is that I wanted, and I think that any adaptation, the mark of a successful adaptation should be, no matter how you get there, at the end of the film, if you can have your audience feel the same way they felt at the end of the book that you’re adapting, then you’ve succeeded. And that was our goal.

I definitely did feel that. Speaking of Casey, what was it like working with them on this movie?

Matthew López: Casey paid me the greatest compliment of trusting me and leaving me alone. And I mean that admiringly and with tremendous gratitude. Casey probably could have involved themselves a lot more in a micromanaging way. But for whatever reason, Casey just decided that this was my movie and to let me do my work. And Casey was always there when I needed advice. Casey was always there when I wanted some perspective. Casey dropped everything and answered my calls and I really appreciate that. Because I wanted to do right by their story and their book.

Conversations we had at the very beginning of the process, I said to Casey, “Look, the movie in some ways is not going to resemble your book all the time, but I promise you that I have that book here [points to his heart]. And I will honor your characters, even if I have to, along the way, change the way we get there.” Casey supported me a hundred percent. And the best thing was watching the movie with Casey. The two times I’ve watched the movie with Casey it’s just been so much fun.

You find clever ways to get around Henry and Alex’s near constant texting and the emails that are so prevalent in the book. Visually, how did you get there?

Matthew López: There’s nothing more boring than watching two people’s text messages on screen. I will say the invention of the iPhone is probably the worst thing for dramatists ever. And I rely really on my experiences in theater, in my play, The Inheritance, people text message each other, and they talk on the phone. And we just have the actors just speak the lines out loud as if it was a dialogue. And the audience understands instantly what’s happening. And so I figured, well, if the audience understands it in a play, I bet we can find a way to get them to understand it in a movie. So there was always my intention from the beginning of this process to deliver those scenes through dialogue, through visuals. I didn’t want to just rely solely on having the audience read because suddenly they’re reading.

Also, I had these great dynamic actors. Why shouldn’t I use them to the maximum ability? And so even with that phone call between Alex and Henry, I just wanted to put them on the screen together. I didn’t even want to do a split screen thing with one in one room, one in the other. I just wanted to show them together and let them do what they do so well, which is play and interact with one another. And the audience seems to get it. Audiences are smarter than they are sometimes given credit for.

About Red, White & Royal Blue

Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine in Red, White and Royal Blue. 

Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), the son of the President of the United States (Uma Thurman), and Britain’s Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) have a lot in common: Stunning good looks, undeniable charisma, international popularity … and a total disdain for each other. Separated by an ocean, their long-running feud hasn’t really been an issue, until a disastrous—and very public—altercation at a royal event becomes tabloid fodder, driving a potential wedge in U.S./British relations at the worst possible time. Going into damage-control mode, their families and handlers force the two rivals into a staged “truce.”

But as Alex and Henry’s icy relationship unexpectedly begins to thaw into a tentative friendship, the friction that existed between them sparks something deeper than they ever expected. Based on Casey McQuiston’s critically acclaimed New York Times best-seller, Red, White & Royal Blue marks the feature film writing and directing debut of Tony Award-winning playwright Matthew López (The Inheritance).

Red, White & Royal Blue is currently streaming on Prime Video.

Source link