Stephen Fry has described the delight he took in playing a homophobic king in Amazon Prime’s adaptation of Red, White & Royal Blue.
The film follows the romance between political enemies turned lovers Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) and the first son of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez).
There are several changes from the page to the big screen. For example, the novel’s character of Henry’s grandmother is gender-swapped to King James in the film – and played by the legendary Fry.
After Alex and Henry’s relationship becomes public knowledge, the king tries to convince his son to end things.
It’s in a “subversive” role for the gay rights advocate, who has starred in films as varied as Wilde to The Hobbit, and TV shows from Blackadder to It’s a Sin.
“If you are casting a fictional heterosexual homophobic bully of a monarch, you first go to Stephen Fry,” he quipped, “because it’s cheeky – and he knew he was cheeky – and he came in and he did such beautiful work,” López said.
The openly gay British actor “took a lot of delicious pleasure playing that role,” López continued.
“We all knew, and Stephen knew it most especially, that there was something potentially subversive about that, and he played it to the hilt. We had so much fun together.”
Although it’s easy for viewers to make comparisons with the real British royal family, López said he hoped there are enough differences to make his monarchy seem more like fantasy than reality.
“I think it’s very clear to anyone who sees the movie that this is not the [real royal family],” he said.
“I also think that if people are watching this movie, and they’re thinking about the Windsors, we’ve sort of ruined the magic for them. This is about fantasy, it’s about escapism, and we needed to maintain that throughout the film.”
Henry (R), played by Nicholas Galitzine, and Alex (Taylor Zakhar Perez) share a moment in Red, White & Royal Blue. (Amazon Prime Video)
In recent years, Fry has had cameos in several LGBTQ+ favourite TV shows and films, including Heartstopper, Sex Education and The Sandman. He’ll also be voicing a character in the upcoming animated version of gay playwright Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost, alongside his old comedy buddy Hugh Laurie and Freddie Highmore, who played openly gay cook and food journalist Nigel Slater in 2010’s Toast.
Fry isn’t the only actor who took to starring in the R-rated Red, White & Royal Blue like a duck to water. In an interview with PinkNews, López spoke about both Galitzine and Perez’s connections with their characters.
“I couldn’t have asked for better or more different actors than the ones that I got,” López said. “I felt Henry was this very fragile thing, and I placed him inside Nick’s hands, and Nick cared for him throughout the process. Taylor really turned himself into a human cannonball to become Alex.”
Red, White & Royal Blue is streaming on Prime Video now.