When Matthew López was first approached about adapting Red, White & Royal Blue — the hit novel about an affair between the president's son and a prince — the idea was to turn it into a musical for the stage. The bona fides made sense: López was the first Latine playwright to win the Tony for Best Play, for his queer opus The Inheritance, and received another nomination for his musical adaptation of Some Like It Hot.
He read the book, fell in love with it, but had a different idea: "I wanted to make the movie," he says. Which is how Red, White & Royal Blue became López's directorial debut. (He also co-wrote the screenplay with Ted Malawer.) In bringing the story to the screen, the first-time filmmaker hoped to make a contemporary rom-com that would stand the test of time, like When Harry Met Sally... or Moonstruck.
The movie centers on the romance between America's scenester first son Alex Claremont-Diaz (played by Taylor Zakhar Perez) and prim and proper Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine). It's a classic enemies-to-lovers rom-com set against a backdrop of royal weddings and national conventions, with Oscar nominee Uma Thurman playing the President of the United States.
With his first film now behind him, López says, "I'm excited to see what I do next."
Below, Lopez shares with A.frame five of the films that most inspire him as a filmmaker. "Which is an incredibly hard thing to do for me, as you can imagine. I have more than five movies that I love, so I wanted to answer it in a way that was sort of apropos to our movie."
Written and Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Pulp Fiction is the movie that made me want to be a filmmaker. I was 17 years old when that movie came out in the cinemas, and I went to see it on opening day. I had a life-changing experience in that movie. It is the movie that I've seen more than any other in the cinemas. It played for months and months and months at a second-run theater after it left the first-run house, so I saw that movie probably about a dozen times in the theater. And then I love that Uma was in my first movie!
Written and Directed by: Gus Van Sant
My Own Private Idaho was early in the queer movie canon, in terms of representation. I'm 46, and so many of the movies that I saw early on were about death and dying. And then this movie came along, and this movie was about living. This movie was about how to be alive, and how to be fully alive, and how to love unambiguously and unapologetically. It was so weird, and it was so sexy, and it was so beautiful that it changed what I thought movies about queer men could be.
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón | Written by: Carlos Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón
Even though My Own Private Idaho is a much more overtly queer movie by a queer filmmaker, what I loved about Y tu mamá también — in addition to it being in Spanish — is that it's about two young, horny Mexican boys. When it came out, that too was a movie unlike any I'd ever seen before. And the kiss between Gael [García Bernal] and Diego [Luna] at the end is one of the most well-earned kisses between any two characters I've ever seen in my life. That it happens to be between two boys is just delicious. So, that really drove me wild.
Directed by: Howard Hawks | Written by: Dudley Nichols & Hagar Wilde
As a screwball comedy from the 1930s, that is about a romance between a loose cannon and a stuffed shirt, Bringing Up Baby was one of the most informative films for me in making this movie. And it's always been a movie that I've adored, for pure comedy and silliness.
Directed by: Paolo Sorrentino | Written by: Paolo Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello
The Great Beauty is a film that has fed me and nourished me, both visually and emotionally, since the first time I saw it. There's very little of The Great Beauty in Red, White & Royal Blue, as you can imagine, but there are some moments in the New Year's Eve party, when we were planning it and shooting it, where we looked at the opening party scene of The Great Beauty as an example. In the last 10 years, it's a movie that has really sort of skyrocketed to be one of my favorite, favorite movies.