Galitzine is practically vibrating when he finally finds his prized clip. In it, two enraged young Scots lose it when a countryman claims that they pronounce “pie” as “peh.” “SHUT YOUR MOUTH, I HATE YEEEH!” one guy yells, face vermilion. It’s so, so dumb. It’s also hilarious.
Zakhar Perez, 31, and Galitzine, 28, fold over and giggle, far too occupied to realize that the phone is on full blast in a tiny room filled with rich tourists. A group of suited Italians not-so-quietly mumble their annoyance from the next table, and Galitzine quickly offers an embarrassed apology.
Eschewing the rules of polite society here is particularly apropos. Red, White & Royal Blue is a featherlight rom-com on the surface, featuring two main characters secretly navigating the ups and downs of dating on the world’s largest political stage—but it’s also about two men breaking free from the suffocating, heteronormative molds of the old establishment.
And if social media offers any clues, there’s a rapt audience ready for this kind of adaptation. Since the novel’s release in 2019, Red, White & Royal Blue has remained one of BookTok’s biggest literary obsessions (#redwhiteandroyalblue had close to 200 million views at the time of publication). Zakhar Perez says he finished the book; Galitzine says he did not. “Ultimately, the script is the Bible,” he reasons.
When auditioning for their roles, Galitzine read with other prospective Alexes, never quite finding a rhythm. But when they met over Zoom for a chemistry read, it was instant fireworks. Director Matthew López noticed their spooky chemistry right away. When the actors first got together in person to rehearse, López recalls leaving them alone. “I came back about 10 minutes later and they were the best of friends already,” he says. “It was like they had known each other all their lives.”
Zakhar Perez—“the quintessential tall, dark, and handsome dude,” per Galitzine—is wearing jeans and a white long-sleeve shirt below a head of perfectly coiffed brown locks. Galitzine mirrors his color palette, but with a T-shirt and a baseball cap hiding his blond hair. On and off set, the pair would bond by turning every little thing into a low-stakes contest: competing over silly minutiae like who’s really taller (“Alex is supposed to be shorter in the book, and then this little shit comes in at six foot two!” Galitzine says) or who could finish their scene in the fewest takes.
Except it wasn’t what he wanted.