Actor Jordan Whalen was cast as Prince William nine days (!) before he began filming Lifetime's upcoming movie, Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal. The drama-filled sequel to the network's Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance, which premiered last year, will focus on the major events that have taken place over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's first year of marriage.
Naturally, Whalen and the rest of his castmates needed to do as much preparation as possible to nail the very specific roles and mannerisms of the royal family. They worked hard to incorporate real-life royal elements in the film while, of course, following the script that incorporated a bit of...exaggeration.
"I was most familiar with Prince William after the royal wedding in 2011. All of the sudden he's in the news here in America and enough people were like, Oh my god, you really look like him. My ears pricked up and I was like, Oh okay," says Whalen. "I started to follow him a little bit more, but when I was cast as him it was like, Whoa, this is something I really have to work on."
Whalen spent 75 hours watching footage of Prince William to nail elements like his accent and how he interacts with Kate Middleton. Here, Whalen tells MarieClaire.com the most surprising things he learned while studying up on Prince William, and the process of transforming into a royal.
Whalen can repeat Will's real interview answers word-for-word.
Whalen studied dialects in grad school, which helped him transform his Iowan accent into a British one. "Often times, it's closing my eyes and listening to him and imagining where his tongue placement is, what's happening with the corners of his mouth," says Whalen.
Most royal men do a simple neck bow while greeting the Queen.
Whalen is used to doing Shakespeare plays. Back then, you bowed differently to royalty. However, he learned modern royal gentleman traditionally simply bow from the neck when greeting the Queen.
William and Kate don't really touch.
Unlike Harry and Meghan, William and Kate don't display much PDA. "I don't know if there's an official rule, but as future King and Queen they can't get away with it as much as Meghan and Harry."
William does a lot of philanthropy work...
Whalen learned that the Duke of Cambridge focuses on mental health awareness with Harry, Kate, and Meghan. He was also particularly fond of the fact that he visited Grenfell Tower victims with the Queen.
...But there's also more time at home now.
When you have three young children under the age of five, what do you expect?
The Queen eats first. Once her plate is cleared, everybody is done.
Same, to be honest.
William is a bit fidgety...
"He may not necessarily be comfortable talking to the press, even though he's been in front of the camera since birth," Whalen points out.
...And he purses his lips a lot.
Whalen thinks it's a nervous tick, though he's unsure if this happens behind closed doors. He may just do that because there's a camera in front of him.
Two words: The Hair.
On set, the crew took about 45 minutes to pluck hairs off the top of Whalen's head and create a "nice bald spot" on the back. Whalen proceeded to "casually weep."
Whalen then had to bleach the top of his head.
The director wanted to make the hair, or lack thereof, more authentic on camera. Sorry, Wills!
He spent as much time as possible with his castmates before filming.
"You have to get comfortable with your wife and your brother and your sister-in-law, so I needed to immediately become familiar with my castmates," says Whalen. "Much of my scenes were with Harry, so we were like, Let's just hang out and cultivate a familiarity so we can be brothers."
Unsurprisingly, William was a heartthrob in college.
Whalen learned Kate reportedly had pictures of Will on her dorm walls!
At the end of the day, Will's just a normal dude.
"We all come up with our own opinions of what this person is like, but as an actor going behind the scenes and trying to figure out this person, I realized that this is just a person. Everybody's normal in their own way, especially behind closed doors," says Whalen. "Yes, this is the future King of England, but at the end of the day he's a father, a brother, a son. He's a fairly normal guy."
Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal premieres on Lifetime Monday, May 27 at 8 p.m EST.
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