Nicholas Galitzine ‘could have chemistry with a lamp’


You may know Nicholas Galitzine from the romantic comedy “Red, White and Royal Blue,” in which he plays a (handsome) British prince who struggles to reconcile his royal duties with newfound feelings for the son of the American president. Or maybe you recognize him as the (attractive) two-timing football player in the raunchy high school flick “Bottoms.” If you’re older than 30, it’s most likely you caught a glimpse of him as the (hot) boy-band singer wooing Anne Hathaway with his sensitivity in preview clips from “The Idea of You,” an upcoming dramedy reportedly boasting the most-watched trailer for a streaming movie, ever.

Galitzine is on the rise, if you know where to look — and that last verb is key, as his appearance often factors into his roles. But when you ask the 29-year-old English actor to describe his aspirations, those full lips and defined cheekbones become irrelevant. He hasn’t really done any fantasy or sci-fi, despite his childhood obsessions with Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and wouldn’t mind dipping into those formative genres. He admires the absurdity of the villains Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant portray in the Paddington films, and would relish the challenge of taking on such a wackadoodle antagonist.

“It takes a lot of skill as an actor to jump into that space,” he says. “They both smashed it.”

One step at a time, right? Galitzine will still play hotties, so long as there’s something a little extra going on underneath. To these men, beauty can be a tool — or a curse. Sexuality is a source of power for George Villiers, the ambitious English courtier who rises in rank by seducing King James I in the recently released Starz series “Mary & George.” But for pop star Hayes Campbell in “The Idea of You,” which hits Prime Video on May 2, heartthrob status is both a boon and the bane of his existence, stripping him of any privacy. Both characters, coincidentally, partake in May-December romances.

“I feel like I’m starting to surprise people with what I’m doing,” Galitzine remarks in late March during a Zoom call from his hometown of London, where he returned to retrieve a new visa from the American embassy. He lives in Los Angeles these days and has joked in interviews that he was struck, upon first moving to the city, by how pretty everyone seemed to be. In a way, he fit right in. But most actors strive to stand out, to avoid being put into a box. Hathaway, Galitzine’s more experienced co-star, writes in an email that “how an artist defies their typecasting … says as much about them as their performances.”

“Part of the reason you get cast as something when you are in the unknown phase of your career is because the powers that be have an easy time seeing you in that part — but that doesn’t mean that’s a full expression of all you are,” Hathaway continues. “Nick is innately handsome, intelligent, sensitive, funny, sporty and dashing. … And I know he’s got much, much more to show.”

Back to Hugh Grant real quick. During our Zoom, Galitzine indulges a tangent to discuss how Grant’s career has taken a turn for the weird. Once a romantic lead, Grant now goes for the villains and creeps. He reunited last year with “Paddington 2” director Paul King to play a fussy Oompa-Loompa in “Wonka.” And “he’s kind of become even more respected than he already was, which is cool,” Galitzine says.

Are these the sorts of choices Galitzine hopes to emulate? Maybe one day. He covets versatility and runs through a list of actors he admires: James McAvoy, Brad Pitt, Matt Dillon, Michael Pitt. “I’m in such awe of my contemporaries,” he adds, naming Barry Keoghan, Paul Mescal and Leo Woodall. His current North Star might be Ryan Gosling, whose Oscar-nominated performance in “Barbie” underscored what loyal fans have long known: Gosling can do drama, but he is very good at comedy.

Galitzine can be, too. He has been acting for a decade — appearing in the 2019 psychological horror series “Chambers,” the 2021 movie-musical “Cinderella,” the 2022 romantic drama “Purple Hearts” — but broke out with last summer’s “Red, White and Royal Blue.” While he plays the straight man opposite co-star Taylor Zakhar Perez — not literally, as the film’s buzzy gay sex scenes make clear — portraying Prince Henry still called for a fair share of physical comedy.

He recently noticed that his projects tend to be released in pairs. “Red, White and Royal Blue” came out during the Hollywood actors and writers strikes around the same time as “Bottoms,” a gonzo comedy about lesbian high-schoolers (Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott), who start an extracurricular fight club to spend more time with their crushes. Galitzine plays a football player who cheats on his girlfriend and is constantly humiliating himself. Despite working on recent projects with Hathaway and Julianne Moore, his on-screen mother in “Mary and George,” he says he learned the most on “Bottoms” by leaning into its emotional nakedness.

“Nick was down to be a goofball,” says Sennott, who wrote the film with director Emma Seligman. But Galitzine admits that he had to overcome a decent amount of anxiety to put his most ridiculous foot forward.

“I think that’s acting, in a way,” he says. “It’s trying to channel fear in a productive way.” And if that sounds pretentious, he jokes, that’s because “we are, as actors, very self-important and pretentious.”

Raised in the Hammersmith district of London by an English father and Greek mother, Galitzine thought he might pursue rugby professionally until injuring his rotator cuff. He didn’t start acting until “late in my life,” by which he means right out of high school. He was scouted after auditioning for an Edinburgh Fringe Festival production of the musical “Spring Awakening” in 2013.

Roughly a decade later, he sings onstage again, this time on-screen in “The Idea of You” as Hayes Campbell, one of five members in the fictional boy band August Moon. Hayes encounters Solène Marchand (Hathaway) at a Coachella meet-and-greet, which the divorcée attends with her teenage daughter; they begin sneaking around after he swings by her Los Angeles art gallery. Screenwriters Jennifer Westfeldt and Michael Showalter, who also directed the film, adapted it from a 2017 novel by Robinne Lee, who previously told Vogue that “this was never supposed to be a book about Harry Styles” but instead “a story about a woman approaching 40 and reclaiming her sexuality and rediscovering herself.”

“Hayes, for me, needed to be obviously sexy and charming, and someone who audiences could fall in love with similarly to the way Solène does,” Showalter says. “There needed to be a humility there, and a real person there.” In other words, Hayes needed to come across as a 24-year-old that a single mother might actually want to date, mature and grounded beneath his playful exterior.

“Nick could have chemistry with a lamp,” Hathaway says. “He’s so easy to connect with.”

Galitzine was interested in how Hayes handles the claustrophobia of fame — once their relationship hits the press, he and Solène face all sorts of online hate — and encourages Solène’s self-discovery. “I just feel, both in Hayes and in myself, this responsibility of support and allyship and partnership,” Galitzine says. “It’s been such a joy working with Annie. … I think we can all see how important [this film] is for her, as well.”

Lately, he has tried choosing roles he believes “move the needle” somehow. He and Moore began shooting “Mary & George” early last year, almost immediately after he wrapped “The Idea of You.” The series also contrasts how a young man and older woman each navigate the world — albeit in 16th-century England, when George Villiers infiltrates the king’s court at the behest of his conniving mother, Mary. He initially acts as a pawn in her scheme to boost the family’s rank, but over time he learns to exploit King James (Tony Curran) for his own purposes. “He dominates a lot of people through sex,” Galitzine says of George, a fictionalized version of the real duke. “His sexuality liberates him in a powerful way.”

Galitzine, who is straight, has played multiple characters who aren’t. “I never want to be taking up a space that feels like it would be best played by someone who is queer,” he says. “For me, I just saw these people as wonderfully textured humans.” Despite “Mary & George” taking place centuries ago, George isn’t ostracized for his queerness — nor is the king. The duke may have additional motives, but the series still depicts their connection as authentic, and their sexual encounters as tender and loving.

Creator D.C. Moore says he “wanted, fundamentally, for this show to not be afraid of men’s bodies.” He credits the two actors with developing a rapport that served what Galitzine describes as their shared “responsibility to portray this relationship in an honest, compelling light.” The humor in “Mary & George” is sharp, sometimes cruel and often littered with ahistoric F-bombs. But when George lies on the floor next to a stressed-out King James, their banter softens, becoming the sort of everyday chatter exchanged between two longtime lovers. Galitzine and Curran improvised that bit of dialogue.

“On some level as a writer, I should be furious,” Moore says playfully. “But that’s two actors playing intimacy.”

Acting opposite stalwarts like Hathaway and Julianne Moore reminded Galitzine of his relative youth. “By the people I’m working with, I’m still regarded as very green and very young,” he says. It can be nice to feel like his career is only beginning, but also quite jarring. He’s been acting for 10 years, after all. He can’t even remember who he played in that staging of “Spring Awakening.”

“Was it Moritz?” he wonders aloud, racking his brain. “Good God, that feels like a lifetime ago.”

We return to the topic of his future aspirations. Sci-fi extravaganza? Absolutely. Stage acting? Hmm, no thanks. (“My English agents really want me to do theater, but I don’t know, not just yet,” he says. “The last thing I auditioned for was ‘The Iceman Cometh,’ which Austin Butler ended up doing.”) He would love to do another project as outlandish as “Bottoms” — if not more so — and has been trying to be a voice actor for a couple years now. “They won’t have me,” he laments. “But let’s manifest that.”

He doesn’t take it as a slight. On the cusp of 30, Galitzine espouses some wisdom: “The closer we get to death, the less we give a s—.” This is a tricky period to navigate, anyway, as he lingers in the space between coming-of-age stories and robust leading-man roles. While he will probably play young and hot — but interesting! — for the foreseeable future, he notes that most of his favorite actors have “wonderful lines” on their faces now. They not only sound wise, but look it. He can’t wait to join them.

“It’s very exciting from a professional standpoint, you know?” he says. “All of these amazing roles start popping up in your 30s and 40s and 50s. I feel like I’m on the precipice of something exciting.”


Source link

Leave a Comment