The Hallmark Channel’s new movie William & Catherine: A Royal Romance chronicles the beginnings of the love affair between Prince William (Dan Amboyer) and Kate Middleton (Alice St. Clair), that ended in their marriage on April 29, which turned out to be the most watched live event in history.
And showing what a truly international cast this is, Canadian actor Victor Garber stars as Prince Charles, and American actress Jean Smart as Camilla Parker Bowles, who came by the TV Critics Association tour to talk with us about their regal roles.
What was it that captivated you about this story?
Jean Smart: I just loved reading it as a love story. I’m a good audience. When I read the script, I read it as if I was an audience member. And I found it so charming and delightful, whether they had been fictional characters or real characters.
I just was so on their side and rooting for them. The relationship [between Prince William and Catherine] was quite charming.
What is your take on the Royal Family?
Victor Garber: I think that this film really does attempt to humanize them, certainly [Charles’) relationship with William. I think because enough time has passed since the tragedy of Diana’s death, that they’re being seen in a different way.
I think that William and Kate have definitely had an enormously positive effect on their reputation, how they are perceived.
Do you think Charles is the most misunderstood of all the Royals?
Victor: I think that he was vilified in a way. They both were to an unfair degree. And I think over time that has sort of softened.
In my opinion of him, having played him and listened to him, I think he’s quite an amazing guy actually.
Can you talk about playing real-live people rather than fictional characters, especially ones that are so public?
Jean: I found very little of Camilla on camera and speaking. There were a couple little bits here and there, and you feel a certain responsibility, especially when it’s someone who is still alive, to just try to capture a quality, and hopefully it’s something that’s done respectfully.
I liked that she was portrayed sympathetically in the script, and I felt that she deserves that.
Victor: I think it’s really (writer/Executive Producer) Linda Yellen’s achievement as a writer that these people are depicted as a family, and I think that’s hopefully the success of this piece, because we don’t ever really know what goes on behind closed doors.
This is fiction. This is made up, the actual dialogue, you never know what really happened, like in any biography that you read and they’re talking about a conversation that happened.
How does anybody really know? I think that Linda has really done a magnificent job that way, and I think as actors we feel a great responsibility and hopefully achieve it.
Over your long career have you ever met the Royals?
Victor: No, I haven’t met them. I feel like I should have been invited there, but never have!
I’ve always been fascinated, and as a kid from London, Ontario, and I remember when Queen Elizabeth came to our town, and I saw her drive by in a car, and it was kind of a momentous occasion for me.
I am not obsessed with them like some people are, but I certainly have enormous respect, and it was kind of a great thing to be able to step in there.
William and Kate just visited Canada, was there a certain amount of pride that they put the spotlight on your country?
Victor: Sure. I’m not one of those flag-waving Canadians, but I love that they went there. I love the way they handled the whole thing. I thought that was brilliantly accomplished, the whole trip from Canada to America.
Every clip I saw, I thought, ‘Wow, they seem so much more poised and so much more comfortable in the roles that they have taken on.’ She in particular, but William did too. I thought they were really great. I’m a big fan.