'William & Kate' Actors Feel the 'Overwhelming' Glare of Royal Spotlight
By Stacy Jenel Smith Posted Mar 24th 2011 10:58AM
Let them carp as they will, Lifetime is already reaping the rewards of providing a lightning fast movie to a 'William & Kate' hungry world, with brisk sales across Europe and elsewhere. The movie premieres April 18.
Luddington tells PopEater that the day her casting was announced, there were reporters outside her family's home. Swindell recalls that tabloid types were waiting for them after a table reading of the 'William & Kate' script. "They were taking snaps and demanding interviews. It was funny, we had just finished reading the script, and then we were stepping outside into that reality. It gave me a very visceral feeling of what their world must be like, albeit a very minor one," he says.
Luddington admits that forgetting "England was watching" was the hardest part of her job. "I had to put that aside. It was so distracting and intimidating. It can be overwhelming."
What helped, she says, was the speed with which she had to prepare for the whirlwind production. "There was no time for worrying. I only had about eight days between finding out I got the role and starting to film. We were rushed into coaching. We had someone help break down the script. We had an accent coach on the set."
Getting Kate's accent right was no problem for Luddington. "She's from the same county as me. We have the exact same dialect," says the actress. All she had to do was shed American inflections she's picked up since moving to Hollywood, where most of the roles she's auditioned for are Yanks. Much of the cast members are British, but New Zealand-born Swindell and some of the other actors, who hail from Australia, had their work cut out to polish their upper crust British tones.
"In the meantime, we got as much information as we could," says Luddington. "There are not that many interviews with Kate. She was very sporty when she was younger, that's one of the things we know. Before the engagement, she was very private." But the actress found a positive in that: "It helped me, in a way, since it gave me more license to create how I felt about her. Reading the script, I could sympathize with how it must be to be a normal girl in university, then suddenly be chased by paparazzi wherever. I think it's nice to actually stop and think about the feelings behind the tabloids, that's forgotten sometimes. That person you're chasing is not real to you. But she is a real girl. I like that we're reminding people of that. It adds more heart."
As for whether she's had any contact with her real-life alter ego, Luddington says, "My dad's brother, my uncle -- he does know the Middletons, so through him I let her know I hope I'm doing a good job of portraying her. Now I would just love to sit down and talk with her sometime. I have so many questions."
Swindell acknowledges, "It's certainly a challenge playing someone who is alive, well and certainly in the public eye, but it's a very exciting challenge. Growing up in New Zealand, I was, of course, very in tune with the royal family. They're a big story down there." Not surprisingly, his family is "over the moon" about his casting.
Swindell had much more material to work with in his research than did Luddington, of course. "I read a couple of the unofficial palace insider-type biographies. They were helpful. And there's a lot of archival media, a wealth of material to sift through on the Internet."
In addition to having his hair lightened, "I did some movement work, some posture things. Salvador Perez did the costumes, and he did a fabulous job of capturing the style and look of Will and Kate, and that was very helpful."
Still, "It was really hard to prepare in the limited time we had leading up to it, to build something," he says. "But once you get going, you just have to trust what you're doing and go -- no need to reflect on it while you're doing it." As far as the accent, Swindell says he was working on perfecting it even as he prepared for his auditions.
Of the real William and Kate, he says, "I hope they watch it and have fun watching it. It's a romance, a Lifetime story, of young people falling in love under very extraordinary circumstances. At the end of the day, it is what it is, and we did our best. I'm really happy with what we did, and I had a lot of fun."
"It's a fun ride," adds Luddington.
They both say they're amused that the Hallmark Channel is also doing a William and Kate movie that will air later, Luddington in particular since she recently starred in the Hallmark Channel movie 'Accidentally in Love.'
"We were joking about that, on set," she says. "I said to Nico, 'Why don't we go down and audition? We already know everything.'"
"I've got to try to get in for Harry," Swindell adds. "I want to play both brothers."
British Royal Weddings
It seemed straight out of a fairy tale when Prince Charles, 32-year-old heir to the British throne, married 20-year-old Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981. Despite the births of Prince William and Prince Harry, the couple were very ill-suited. Diana bitterly claimed "there were three of us in this marriage" -- a reference to Camilla Parker Bowles. Charles and Diana separated in December 1992 and were divorced in August 1996. A year later, Diana was killed in car crash in Paris.
Anwar Hussein, WireImage
Anwar Hussein, WireImage
Royal Weddings Through the Years
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