On April 29, the Royal Wedding of Prince William and his love of eight years Catherine Middleton was the most watched live event in history. With the continuing interest in the all things Royal, it’s no surprise that the Hallmark Channel is presenting their original movie William & Catherine: A Royal Romance this month, which chronicles the initial meeting and budding love story of Wills and Kate.
Detroit born Dan Amboyer takes on the role of Prince William, and British actress Alice St Clair plays Catherine. I spoke with them at the TV Critics tour about their high profile counterparts and the Royal Family in general.
Can you talk about playing real life people, especially ones that are so public?
Dan Amboyer: I think the challenge was find who these people are and really respect them, but also to find a way to not mimic them, to not piece together just the caricature of what we know of them through the snapshots we’ve seen from the media, but find a way that we can connect by bringing ourselves to what we know is true. So we create our own interpretation.
There’s a lot of interview stuff, and what really excited me about the part was the challenge of playing a real person, and also I grew up loving Shakespeare, and I’ve played other kings before, like Richard II, so this idea of playing a modern man who will become king one day was really exciting. I watched as much as I could of interviews and tried to get down some of his cadence and his particular sounds that he uses for his speech.
Alice St Clair: Kate’s sort of secretive. I did a lot of factual research on her, where she grew up and what school she went to. But really a lot of it was down to the period of time which we don’t really know so much about. So a lot of it was just me being able to call upon experiences that I’ve had growing and put them into the character.
Dan, you do look like Prince William, were you put up immediately for the role?
Dan: I don’t know how that happened exactly. It didn’t hurt that I looked like him.
Did you feel comfortable in his skin?
Dan: Yeah, the movie explores a lot of him trying to go out on his own and be an everyday man, and having his [butler] follow him around and do everything for him, he’s kind of like, ‘Leave me alone, let me live my life and try be a student and be like everybody else for a while.’
Being from Detroit, how hard was going to work with all the other actors who are British?
Dan: That was actually really great. Everyone on set was so supportive. They had a few suggestions on different words to use in the script just to make it really authentic. So it was great to have that support behind me while I was there.
What about your relationship as actors?
Dan: We got on so well with each other.
Alice: Yeah, we got on so well from the moment we met as great friends. And I think that’s been such a massive part of Kate and William’s relationship, they share this great sense of humor. Actually we have a very similar sense of humor, so it was really lucky.
Alice, can you talk about your father? Doesn’t he work with the Queen as part of her security force?
Alice: Yeah, he’s the Head for Royal and Diplomatic Security. That’s his job title. He keeps it very separate, he’s very private about his job and as a family we know not to talk about that. It’s just so top secret. My mom calls him the most discreet in Britain.
He met Kate and he won’t even tell me things like that, he just keeps it very separate. It’s a funny coincidence, I kept it very quiet, but as soon as the press Googled my name you could see the link, but I didn’t talk about it to anyone, and I got the part and it was only later when we were starting to film that it was revealed.
What did your father say when you got the role?
Alice: He was so proud. He was so excited. Obviously I wondered if it was too close to [real life], will it be weird me playing someone that he works so closely with? But, he was like, ‘This is amazing, you must do it.’
I was wondering, playing the future king, were there certain things that you had to watch in news reels?
Dan: The benefit of doing it after the wedding was that we got to see so much of the programming that was out prior to the wedding. So there were so many documentaries and so many things to watch and interviews to see of him, so I had an opportunity to really learn a bit about him before taking it on. I’m from Detroit, so that’s not exactly Buckingham Palace. I worked on the accent a bit. I prepared as best I could as I would for any other part.
Did you have to learn polo?
Dan: No, but I would like to. Maybe for our sequel!
Do you think the world is tired of the Royal Family by now?
Dan: No, it’s been actually amazing that since the wedding the coverage that’s come on their visit [to the States and Canada] has been incredible. I wasn’t expecting the amount of coverage that there was.
And then you have the covers of magazines. When I go to a drugstore and I see their faces, it’s a little strange after you’ve inhabited him as a person. I think, ‘Oh, I know that guy, kind of.’