Before becoming Camila Cabello’s Prince Charming in her acting debut project “Cinderella,” Nicholas Galitzine had grown weary of auditioning for prince roles. Sure he has the looks, but none of the Disney prince parts he’d gone out for had come through, and he was beginning to think it wasn’t meant to be. When the audition for “Cinderella,” which is out today, did eventually come through, he had to fight tooth and nail to prove to the studio that taking a chance on an unknown would be worth it.
It’s easy to see why Galitzine won over the powers that be: he is as charming as a prince might be and equally humble about his rise to stardom. Here, WWD chats with the Southwest London native about landing the part and what makes this version of the fairy tale, which costars Idina Menzel and Billy Porter, worth seeing.
WWD: First things first: How did you land the “Cinderella” role?
Nicholas Galitzine: It’s really funny because I had just screen-tested with the director for another prince for a Disney project. I won’t say which one, but I’d kind of been through the process with that — and I was so gutted that it didn’t work out. And I said to my agent, “I’m swearing off princes for a little bit.” And then a couple of weeks later, this came over my desk and they said how it was going to be an entirely different play on this familiar fairy tale that we know, and comedy was involved and that singing was involved. And I was like, “OK, fine. I’ll audition for another one.” Not expecting anything to come of it. And this was while I was shooting a project and they loved my original tape for it. It was this really coveted role because it was sort of known that it was going to be Camila Cabello’s debut act.
WWD: What did you sing for your audition?
N.G.: It was an absolute train wreck of an audition. I had to sing a Queen song a capella, “Somebody to Love,” a capella for two minutes, which you know is hard enough anyway. I generally feel like you should only ever sing a capella for like maximum 30 seconds.
WWD: Aside from working with Camila, what made you want the role so badly?
N.G.: I think it’s a much more humanized version of a fairy-tale prince. He’s much more real, he’s much more honest, less archetypal. And I think a lot of people were gunning for the role. I think the studio originally might have wanted kind of a name person for these things. I think it’s kind of the big challenge when you get to the sort of the point where you’re in the industry, but you’re trying to break through into the upper echelons. So they really put me through the ringer to kind of convince everyone that the role was mine.
WWD: In what ways is he a different version of a prince than what we think of?
N.G.: I think we often see this young man who is instantaneously pining over this woman that he doesn’t really know. Prince Robert is very much a product of circumstance, born into royalty, but very frustrated with the lifestyle that he has to lead. He feels very caged, very trapped by social obligations to be a certain person, to be a certain man. He’s kind of rebellious from that. I think what we’ve seen with certain royal family members.
WWD: What about the fact you’d be singing in the film — do you have a musical background?
N.G.: It’s something that I really love. And I’m planning on releasing music actually following the release of the film, because it’s something I’ve kind of been doing for myself for the last few years. So it was the perfect synergy between a couple of my passions being acting and music. But it was incredibly daunting having to sing alongside Grammy-nominated winning artists, Camila, Idina, Billy, Minnie Driver has an amazing voice. I’m not sure people will know that. There are so many amazing voices in this film. And it was definitely terrifying to undergo that because the first process of the movie was doing more of the prerecords. As someone who’s never been musically trained, I am sort of used to being in a position where I have to kind of do things on the fly because I wasn’t trained as an actor, either, and I’ve very much learned on the job. So I think apart from this being such a fun experience, it was also a really educational one because on the musical side, I really got to work side-by-side with such amazing talented people and really learn and pick up as much information from them as I could.
WWD: What made you want to be a performer to begin with?
N.G.: I told Idina this as we were staying in the hotel: when I was like seven or eight, I went to the first showing in the West End of “Wicked” with Idina. And I remember just being blown away by her voice, just her performance and charisma. I finally got to tell Idina, I was like, “Look, I think you may have inadvertently sort of planted the performing seed in my mind when I was about eight years old because I came and saw you and I just was so taken by it, your performance.” And it was quite surreal to be working with heroes of yours.
WWD: Did Camila give you advice on singing?
N.G.: It was kind of a beautiful symbiotic relationship in a lot of ways. There were nerves on both sides because singing and performing, being in a recording studio, it’s out of my wheelhouse and acting for her was out of hers. So I feel like there were so many different moments where we were sort of asking each other little tips about how to do something. The singing, she was more familiar with, the acting I was more familiar with.
WWD: After you left high school and before you got into acting, what was your life like?
N.G.: What a s–t show. I was training my whole younger life to be a sportsman. Rugby was my main thing. I went to a school two hours away from where I lived because it was the best rugby school in the country. And at one point I was second in London competing with the javelin. I was playing county-level football. It was all sports, just sports crazy. And there was always just a little bit of a disconnect because I didn’t know whether I should attribute it to my Mediterranean heritage, being sensitive and in touch with my emotions, an existential young man. But there were some things that sport wasn’t quite providing and I kept getting hurt and it just was one thing after the other. And I slowly started to fall out of love with it. And life has this really funny way of, I think, opening one door when another closes.
WWD: What is next?
N.G.: The next project is a Netflix film called “Purple Hearts,” which is about a young Marine and a struggling musician who have very sort of politically polarized ideologies, who through desperate needs engage in an unlawful fake marriage to receive the military monetary benefits from the marriage. And they’re kind of trying to negotiate their feelings for each other, where at first they seemed very at odds as well as grappling with the demons that they both have had to overcome. I think the U.S.’s relationship with the military is something really intriguing as a Brit because I don’t think we have the exact same thing. You know, the military is so involved in sort of political allegiance with certain parties and your religious upbringing sometimes. So I think just getting into the headspace of this character for the preparations is super interesting.