Jordan Dean and Sydney Morton are the leads in ‘Harry and Meghan: Escape from the Palace’. Picture: Lifetime
Jordan Dean and Sydney Morton are the leads in ‘Harry and Meghan: Escape from the Palace’. Picture: Lifetime

Lead actors on playing royal couple in ‘Harry and Meghan: Escape from the Palace’

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Oct 2, 2021

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THE upset within the British Royal family, especially with Harry and Meghan Markle stepping back from their duties and relocating to the US, left the world flabbergasted by the unfolding real-life drama.

The tell-all with Oprah Winfrey amplified curiosities while drawing battle lines between the fans and foes of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

It is little surprise that Lifetime has also chosen to tell a fictionalised version of Harry and Meghan’s story. In fact, they released two features with the third instalment, “Harry and Meghan: Escape from the Palace”, releasing this week.

Controversial throwback to Princess Diana’s car accident scene aside, this movie lays bare the royal couple’s jaw-dropping decision to leave the UK.

And it stars Jordan Dean and Sydney Morton, who bear a close resemblance to Harry and Meghan.

In a recent Zoom interview with the actors, I commented on Dean going back to his natural hair colour.

He laughed: “Well, you know it’s funny, and this is a really specific conversation, but my hair has a lot of different colours to it. They dyed it a little bit to make it more accurate to Harry. After we wrapped, it just dyed my whole hair blonde. I needed to shed the look a little bit.”

The Menhaj Huda directed movie is written by Scarlett Lacey.

On slipping into the skin of the high-profile royal couple, Dean and Morton did a fair amount of research.

Jordan Dean and Sydney Morton in a scene from the Lifetime movie. Picture: Supplied

Morton said: “Well, thankfully, there is a lot of footage, a lot of interviews and a lot of photos of both these people. I also have all of Meghan’s acting work that I could look at. So I spent a lot of time listening to her voice.

“Obviously, I spent a lot of time watching her but I didn’t want to approach it like I was doing an impersonation.

“I wanted to make it feel alive and more grounded in reality. I definitely wanted to get her voice down. And I watched bloopers, like the gag reels from her show Suits.”

And those proved helpful as she picked up on two things: Meghan was really good and eye contact and she has a West Coast way of speaking, where she tends to say, ‘Right’, at the end of a sentence.”

Sydney Morton and Jordan Dean are the leads in “Harry and Meghan: Escape from the Palace”. Picture: Lifetime

Dean added: “The way in for me was obviously watching and listening to years of interviews with Harry from a young boy to a man and sort of picking up that cadence and how he approached interviews at different phases of his life.”

He said the costumes and setting also helped ease him into his character’s regal world.

The movie also includes Harry and Meghan’s last official visit to Africa as well as their controversial interview with the queen of talk shows.

Morton admitted: “Again, this is probably one of the most-watched interviews in the last 20 years so rather than putting the pressure on ourselves to recreate every moment, visually, we put a lot of emphasis on how historic a moment it was for them as a couple and the way that it is written supports that.

“I’m sure there was fear of the repercussions and nerves and knowing there was going to be some negative reactions and, ultimately, it was a very brave, courageous and freeing moment. So that was really the emphasis for us, in performing it.”

Sydney Morton. Picture: Lifetime

As for the quality they found admirable about their characters, Dean offered: “I think the thing that I connected with most was his strength.

“I think the amount of pressure that he is under, that he has been under as a boy, every move and every mistake he made getting highlighted and thrown into a tabloid and that affects you.

“Going through what he went through with his mother and the tragedy with her, it can’t not affect somebody.

|I think that trauma and that pressure and constantly putting others before himself and using that platform that he’s been given to better those around him that are less fortunate, and, in this case, to put his immediate family before himself knowing the scrutiny that he was going to get.”

Morton revealed: “Meghan has grace under pressure, no question.”

Both actors were in complete awe of the director, too.

By the way, those scenes of Africa were shot in Vancouver.

With a minute or two remaining, both actors were in agreement on their favourite scene. It was on the balcony where Harry and Meghan have a disagreement, which they then resolve.

The emotional connection and love between the two bears testament to their modern-day fairytale romance with an empowering albeit scandalous twist.

Harry and Meghan: Escaping the Palace” airs on Lifetime Africa (DStv channel 131) on Thursday, October 7, at 8.05pm.

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