Red, White and Royal Blue director Matthew López initially thought he had his work cut out for him when the first cut of the movie was three-hours long — but as he exclusively explained to Us Weekly, bringing it down to under two hours wasn’t as hard as it may seem.
“I have a very, very different job than Casey McQuiston did as the author of the novel,” López, who cowrote the script with Ted Malawer, told Us.”This is obviously no slight to Casey whom I adore and who’s been very integral in the making of this movie. You have the limitations of budget, time, space when you’re making a movie, and time being the most pressing one. What I’ve been saying to people is like, ‘Well, take the number of hours the audiobook lasts and subtract it by two, and that’s what was left out of the movie.'”
The Red, White and Royal Blue audiobook comes in at 12 hours and 15 minutes while the Amazon Studios movie is a mere 1 hour and 58 minutes.
“Why I say it wasn’t hard [to cut down] is that I quickly realized putting this movie together that, unlike the book, this movie was about Alex and Henry first,” the filmmaker shared. “And first, middle, and last, everything, every decision that I made as the director of this film had to flow into, is it right for Alex and is it right for Henry? And is it right for them as a couple?”
Red, White and Royal Blue, based on the 2021 bestselling novel, follows Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), the son of the first female President of the United States (Uma Thurman), and Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) of the British royal family. After they make headlines for all the wrong reasons, they’re forced to fake a friendship for publicity. However, as they quickly realize they have a lot in common, they start to fall in love.
“I watched the movie for the first time at the three-hour version of the movie that I first was given by my editor — and everything that wasn’t Alex and Henry had to go,” López told Us. “I [felt], like, you’re taking me away from what I care most about, which is Alex and Henry in the movie. So my job as the filmmaker is to deliver Alex and Henry safely on to the end of the film. There’s about less than 20 seconds of the movie in which either one of them doesn’t appear.”
The Tony Award winner concluded, “When you set for yourself that goal of serving that journey for those two characters, it actually becomes very, very clear what belongs and what doesn’t.”
While readers will be delighted to see Alex and Henry’s major moments play out on screen, López teased to Us that there is an extra treat if they watch through the credits.
“I couldn’t get that moment in because it would be a little bit of a drag on the propulsion of the moment,” the director said of the moment. “But it was so charming, it was just such a perfect little charming moment between Taylor and Nick. And I decided to put it at the end because I wanted people to see it, but also I thought there was something really cheeky about having a post-credits scene be about whether or not anybody noticed it was even there.”
He added, “I like to think of it as just like a little morsel of chocolate at the end of the meal, and you don’t need to have it in order to feel satisfied, but oh, it sure is nice if you do catch it.”
Red, White and Royal Blue debuts on Prime Video Friday, August 11.