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Nicholas Galitzine Is Getting Used to Dancing in Front of Strangers

“I am not used to going to so many parties,” Nicholas Galitzine says with a laugh as he signs on to Zoom a few days before the Oscars. Having recently relocated to Los Angeles from his native London, he’s been taking advantage of being at the center of the action — and he’s feeling it. He just hosted the premiere of his Starz drama Mary & George (streaming April 5), and in a few days he’ll head to SXSW, where his rom-com The Idea of You opposite Anne Hathaway will close out the festival. “I normally like to go into a bit of a hole and make sure I’m not deriving a sense of validation from how successful a project is,” he says. “But after the strike, it’s nice to talk shop with people.”

You had two big projects released during the strike. Do you feel like you missed out?

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I’m such a tiny part of Bottoms, and that success is really all due to the work of the amazing women in that movie. With Red, White & Royal Blue, I think the most important part was the resonance it had with people. The most gratifying thing is having conversations with people while I’m out walking around. I’m still coming to terms with being so perceivable out in the world, but that is lovely.

Do you remember when you started getting recognized on the street?

Purple Hearts was a hit [in 2022] on Netflix, and Netflix’s reach is really crazy. I was in New York chemistry testing with Anne Hathaway for The Idea of You when that came out, and I remember walking through the Lower East Side and people’s heads turning to look at me. It was unsettling at first, and I really haven’t had any negative experiences, but it was a noticeable shift and that is strange.

Is that something that you talk about with your co-stars? Especially having just worked with Anne, and Julianne Moore, who both presumably contend with being recognized?

I actually spoke with Annie about it recently, and she gave me such sage advice. It’s so important to create boundaries for yourself and to be able to live the life that you want to live. If there’s one thing I do really want to maintain, it’s doing things I enjoy like walking through London. I don’t want to compromise that just because people might recognize me on the street. But I also find it very hard to say no, even during the times when maybe you’re ill or you feel rough and don’t want to have a whole interaction with someone. But I also feel so indebted to the people who have followed me on this journey. It’s all about striking a balance. That’s what creates longevity.

What was the audition process like for Mary & George?

I didn’t. I was literally watching Still Alice the night before I got a call from my agents telling me that Oliver Hermanus, the director, wanted to meet with me. I was watching it and thinking, “I would love to work with Julianne Moore one day.” I had done a tape for Mary & George but it was so long ago, and was by that point I was so fully in the filming process of The Idea of You, that I’d basically forgotten about it. I got on a call with Oliver, and the next day I was cast. We just immediately got on and really understood each other, so much so that we’re trying to do another project together.

How did you fare with the period costumes?

I broke my ankle on the show. (Laughs.) I was doing a stunt in heels. We had to find a way to put my splint inside of a shoe, and to shoot in a way that you couldn’t see my ankle all strapped up. I wore a lot of riding boots.

What surprised you about working with Julianne?

I knew she’d be incredibly focused, but her lightness on set really surprised me. Some people like to stay in a heavy headspace when doing dramatic work but, Julie likes to create a levity so that she can save her energy for the takes. And I learned from her that there is a place for technicality, whereas my work is often just instinctual. I remember an instance where Julie was very specific about what position she be in because she felt that Mary would lose power and presence within the scene if she wasn’t in that position — at the time I thought, “Is it really that deep?” And then you see it back and she’s totally right. That comes from having a career’s worth of knowledge.

With Anne Hathaway in The Idea of You
With Anne Hathaway in The Idea of You

Earlier, you mentioned doing a chemistry test with Anne Hathaway for The Idea of You — can you talk about those scenes?

We did one scene where I go to her art gallery — it’s in the trailer — and there’s a bit of banter. You never know what to expect from these chemistry tests, but as soon as we did that scene I was like, “OK, there’s a simpatico here.” They also had me bring a track with me, and I had to convince Annie to get up and dance with me. I’m not a dancer by trade, so that’s an incredibly vulnerable thing to do in front of a room full of strangers. I tried to just approach it with a lightness, and Annie has an openness to her that made it so easy. There was a physical simpatico, as well. We were dancing with each other and laughing and I think it embodied that sensuality between the characters. I left the room going, “Wow, that was really impactful, and I’m proud of what I did even if it doesn’t go my way.” But then I was so pleased to get the call from Annie and [director] Michael Showalter the next day.

The movie is loosely inspired by Harry Styles and One Direction. What was your childhood boy band of choice?

I was big into the Backstreet Boys. I thought they were the coolest thing.

Have you been to Coachella?

I actually haven’t. But now that I’ve moved to L.A., I think it’s impending. I have to go. We tried to channel as much of Coachella as we could, albeit in Atlanta in the wintertime. I’m wearing a short-sleeve vest filming at 3 in the morning. Also, I’m not a dancer and none of the other boys can sing, so we’re all pretending to do the other, which is great. I love all those lads, and it did fulfill some childhood boy band dream. When we were doing those scenes we had about 500 extras, so it really was like a mini concert.

Have you had many chances to watch your work with an audience?

I find watching myself to be nauseating sometimes, so I have that to contend with. But I also do feel an immense sense of pride that I can’t believe I’m in this fortunate position. At the premiere of Mary & George, I sat with my whole family — it isn’t the best show to watch with your family because of its sexy content. With Bottoms, we actually went as a cast, along with [director] Emma Seligman, to see it in a theater. We wore these ridiculous costumes because we didn’t want to be recognized. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but we saw it at The Grove, which is basically Disneyland. We watched the whole thing and it was so amazing to hear the audience reaction — I think especially in terms of sapphic content, which is still a bit of a bare space, it is so important to watch it in community, and it really borders on cult classic material. But then we tried to escape as the lights were going up and accidentally went out the fire exit, so we weren’t as inconspicuous as we wanted to be.

It’s funny, I went to a regular screening of May December at a tiny theater over Thanksgiving, and Charles Melton was there watching it with his family, who I presume were visiting for the holiday. It made for a wonderful viewing experience.

It’s so funny, we keep bumping into each other during all of these awards season parties, and we have this great Julianne Moore connection now between the two of us. I’m super pleased to see all the love and respect he’s getting for that project. I think in a way we’ve had similar upbringings within the industry, and he’s so talented, it’s just cool to see.

As a new Angeleno, what is your impression so far?

The ability to hang out with filmmakers and feel a sense of pace and excitement about my job and the industry has been really incredible. And at the same time, I’m able to completely ignore all that when I need to and just immerse myself in nature. I’m by the beach, so I get to go and eat my breakfast on the beach every day and go for a hike. But I’ve got an incredible community here and I’m really loving it. The strike was such an important and formative time for all of us, and it feels like there are some really exciting things that are going to be happening for everyone in the next year. And for me, too.

This story first appeared in the March 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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