Cape Town – Do you believe in fairy tales, or is it something that only happens in movies?
While the beautiful yet unconventional love story between a British royal and an American actress sounds very much like the synopsis of a romantic movie - and is - it is also the very true story of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The world became instantly enamoured by Harry and Meghan when they were first reported to be dating, a few months later came an engagement announcement and just like that a movie about their story was in the works.
Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance tells the tale of the royal couple's journey to the altar.
In a telephone interview ahead of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s nuptials, Channel24’s Bronwyn McKay spoke to actors Murray Fraser (Prince Harry) and Parisa Fitz-Henley (Meghan Markle) about the daunting task of telling the royal love story.
ON THE PRESSURES OF TAKING ON THE ROLES
Leading up to their engagement and their wedding, Harry and Meghan quickly became targeted subjects by the media so, it would only be normal for Murray and Parisa to have heard about the people they would soon be playing, but evidentially not.
“I can’t say I was following their movements to be honest, but I knew they got engaged, I saw it was on… I think it was on BBC News,” Murry reveals.
Parisa adds that she wasn’t even aware about Harry and Meghan until she heard her friends speaking about it.
“I hadn’t been following them until a lot of my friends were responding on social media to the engagement video and I thought, ‘Let me take a look at this and see what the big deal is.’”
After seeing Harry and Meghan together and being so intrigued by Meghan, Parisa says she immediately thought it would be an interesting character to play in a movie.
“Seeing the way that Meghan interacted with Harry and presented herself – I thought it was intriguing and thought it would be an interesting character to play and we kind of look alike. So, I told my manager, ‘If a movie ever comes up I’d be interested in auditioning,’ not realising that it would be three weeks later.”
Taking on the roles of two figures who have become so well-known and admired by the world is one daunting task, however for Murray and Parisa, detaching themselves from these famous titles was the key to doing the characters justice.
Initially, saying yes to the role was the hardest part for Murray, as he had concerns about portraying such a massive public figure.
“I think once we got to the stage where they opened up the role I had big conversations with people around me – my friends and family to find out whether or not it was the right thing to do because there is a lot of pressure playing someone who is admired and so beloved as well.”
Once taking on the role, Murray says it was more about detaching from the titles and just telling a story of two human beings who are in love, and happen to be a prince and really famous.
Agreeing with Murray, Parisa adds that they really tried to make it as authentic as possible, taking into account that Harry and Meghan are also just human beings.
“Any character is a person, they’re a human being and you have to approach them that way no matter what their title is or what their life is perceived as, they are still a human being with feelings and goals and dreams and disappointments so, we really tried to approach it as authentic as possible.”
ON SHARING A BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY WITH THE WORLD
While Parisa would have loved to meet Meghan as preparation for the movie, the American-Jamaican actress notes that they were really lucky to have so much information about both Harry and Meghan available to prepare.
As for Murray, most of his preparation consisted of getting used to looking in the mirror and seeing his ginger-coloured hair.
It’s no secret that thousands of people would flock to Windsor to witness the royal nuptials, and millions of people would tune in on TV or any streaming device really, to share in the excitement, and that’s exactly what Murray says he hopes people will take from watching this movie.
“Initially, it’s just to add to all excitement and buzz about the royal wedding and to make people feel involved and it’s just a really lovely, sweet love story as well.”
Agreeing with her co-star, Parisa adds that, like herself, the directors, producers and writers all had a shared vision that the world could use a little more happiness.
“What comes to mind is also just the way that the directors and producers and writers all, I think, shared a vision that the world right now is a cold place and it could use some warmth and sweetness and this relationship has been providing that for a lot of people so, how lovely would it be to make a film about it and just add to that warmth and sweetness.”
ON THEIR FAVOURITE ROYALS
It’s only obvious that Murray would choose the character he portrays in the film and while you may think Parisa would do the same,she did point out that Queen Elizabeth is definitely at the top of the list.
“I think I have to say Harry too, or even Meghan. Although I have to say watching The Crown has made me borderline obsessed with the queen.”
Watch Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance on Lifetime (DStv 131) at 20:00 on Saturday, 26 May.
(Photos: Supplied by Lifetime)