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Jordan Whalen: 'Becoming Royal' turns up 'the volume' on royal conflicts

By Ben Hooper
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Jordan Whalen: 'Becoming Royal' turns up 'the volume' on royal conflicts
Actor Jordan Whalen said he spent time poring through the "thousands and thousands and thousands of hours" of Prince William interview footage to get the royal's dialect and mannerisms down for the Lifetime movie "Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal." Photo by Jenna Burke

May 24 (UPI) -- Actor Jordan Whalen, who plays Prince William in Lifetime's Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal, said his first hint that he one day could portray the second in line for the British throne came years ago.

Whalen, whose credits include the films I Am Wrath and The Assassin's Code, plays the older brother of Prince Harry in the TV movie sequel, which follows Harry (Charlie Field) and Meghan Markle (Tiffany Smith) as they face the challenges of their first year of marriage, including clashes of culture and family.

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Whalen said he first learned about his striking resemblance to Harry's brother, William, in 2011.

"Ever since the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, I started hearing, 'Oh, you sort of remind me of him,'" Whalen told UPI in a recent interview.

The actor said his physical resemblance to William helped land the part, but the Iowa native said it took more than his looks to make the character true to life.

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Whalen said the opportunity to review some of the "thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of interviews" William has given helped him master the prince's dialect and mannerisms. The very public life of the possible future monarch also creates specific audience expectations.

"I had an advantage because I had thousands of hours to pore over so I could have the source material there to know exactly what to sound like. But the difficult side of that is then the audience has that expectation in their head, so it kinda works for and against me," he said.

He said another challenge he and his co-stars faced was trying to guess how the famously reserved royals treat each other behind closed doors.

"I have a brother, and I know how I am with my brother, so it was kind of just substituting my relationship with him and projecting it on this relationship between William and Harry," the actor said. "And you've seen it in interviews -- they're kinda playful with each other. So for me and Charlie Field, who plays Harry, that was a lot of the fun of it."

Whalen said fans of the royal family shouldn't be too concerned about liberties taken with the story, which largely is based on real events that made headlines in the year following the royal wedding.

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"We didn't invent an alien landing or anything like that," he joked. "It's just kind of turning up the volume on certain potential conflicts and certain aspects of their relationships, and like any good story, there has to be a conflict."

Whalen said he is unsure what Prince William would think of the movie.

"I'm fairly certain he will never see this," he said with a laugh. "All I can say is that I hope he would be like, 'Hey, man, you did a pretty good job.'"

Whalen said he had little interest about royal news before taking on the role, but his brush with royalty-by-proxy has increased his curiosity about the real lives of the people portrayed in the film.

"Certainly with Archie, who has just been born on [May 6], that caught my attention a lot more than if I had not played the role of Prince William," Whalen said of Harry and Markle's first-born son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

The Iowa State University graduate said he plans next to return to his home state to develop a stage show about politics a little closer to home: the Iowa Caucuses.

"My goal is to do some interviews and research and then hopefully devise a show out of that -- maybe it's a one-man show, maybe it's with a group of friends here in New York City," he said.

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Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal premieres Monday night at 8 p.m. EDT on Lifetime.

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