Every generation needs its Prince Charming, perhaps this more than most. As the fog lifts from 2020 and we prance, light-footed into the glimmer of hope that is 2021, Nicholas Galiztine appears on cue, bedecked in dashing costume, astride a stallion: a manifestation of hope incarnate. Cinderella, which sees the actor star alongside Camila Cabello, is set for release next week, on 3rd September on Amazon.
A tale for a new age, this version of the story is an updated, diverse, rip-roaring and uplifting musical feast. Galitzine spent a fair chunk of 2020 where most of us probably wish we had been, swashbuckling around up in the clouds, hanging around fantastical English castles; galloping off into a sunset of dreams. Gideon Adlon, Galitzine’s co-star for The Craft: Legacy (a sequel to the 1996 cult-classic) joins him for a chat on the good old 2020 staple: Zoom.
Nicholas Galitzine: How odd is this? After working together in a professional context, you and I have become very close, so it’s weird now to re-engage with you in an almost professional setting. I love that sweater.
Gideon Adlon: My friend made it for me.
NG: You have all of these extremely creative, eccentric friends, who do amazing stuff… like make sweaters for you.
GA: They’re my Topanga friends, the hippie kids I grew up with.
NG: I didn’t grow up with any hippie friends, I feel very sad about that.
GA: Well now you have one!
NG: How’s it going? How’s life?
GA: It’s good. I’m very proud of you, by the way. Cinderella comes out so soon.
NG: Yes, it’s going to be such a fantastic cinematic feast, especially after such a crazy, depressing year for so many people. I think it’s going to bring some much-needed escapism, release and joy.
GA: It was such a big production. You were texting me throughout, when you were learning your songs and all the dances, that was so much work. It’s just so crazy that it’s come together so fast.
NG: When you think about it, we had just finished The Craft: Legacy together when I got cast in Cinderella, which was November 2019. I came back to London for the holidays, and then started to film in February. We were still shooting the same movie late September or early October, there was a huge chunk [of lockdown] in between. Not a single person on the job had a positive Covid test, which was incredible. Everyone took it very seriously.
GA: You were filming in the British countryside.
NG: Yes, in Ascot. Essentially, we were just going from palace to palace. There would be these huge estates, and you’d be in the costumes, with horses…
GA: It’s my Renaissance fair fantasy.
NG: Your first film was with the director of Cinderella, Kay Cannon. It was very encouraging for me, as I was going through that daunting experience of getting the job, to have you say, “She’s so lovely. It was great working with her.” How did you feel about working on Blockers  with her?
GA: I was really intimidated, because you had Kay, Seth Rogen, Irene [Marquette], Kay’s writing partner, and then Emily [Heller], her other writing partner… all these big comedy guys. Then Ike Barinholtz played my dad, and John Cena, who’s really good at improv…
NG: I think that comes from WWE, there is a lot of improv, people don’t realise. But he’s so funny in that film.
GA: Then Leslie Mann, who’s just a genius. I was very nervous, because I’d never done comedy before. Well, I hadn’t really worked at all, and I remember they were like, “OK, and this next scene, you’re just going to do a fun run, whatever you want.” I’m like, “I don’t know how to improvise.”
NG: Kay Cannon’s famous fun runs.
GA: I know. It felt really embarrassing, but some of it felt really good. Even when the embarrassing parts happened, Kay was laughing and made all of us feel so great about our choices. So, when I was telling you, “She’s awesome,” I wasn’t lying. Is Cinderella a comedy? Is it funny?
NG: Yes, well I think one of the things Kay brings to the table is that comedic vein. She wrote on 30 Rock for ages.
GA: Is there a lot of heart in the film, too? I feel like that’s why people are still talking about Blockers three years later. Two years later? I don’t know. Time doesn’t make sense to me anymore. But it’s the way she writes – like, “That is funny and weird and crazy.” But then there are scenes with heart, where you’re like, “Oh my god.” She writes funny, raunchy comedy, with soul.
NG: I think that’s definitely Kay Cannon, as a person. Her heart is really in Cinderella. Obviously, it’s a very familiar story, but our version is extremely fresh and new. I think you can get lost in the pomp and, dare I say, the cliché of the classic fairy tale, but this version feels very human. It’s going to break a lot of boundaries, we have such a diverse cast, which is great.
GA: Billy Porter is one of my Jesuses, and Idina Menzel… Wicked was the first Broadway show I ever saw, I was six-years old. My mum took me to New York, because she was doing a play, and her best friend has been the casting director for Wicked since the beginning. I went to the American Girl doll store, and I got an American Girl doll – my first doll – and went to go and see Wicked. I was in the front row, and I was like, “Holy shit.” When I think about it, seeing Idina Menzel is what made me want to act.
NG: I saw her in the West End. Wicked was the first show I ever saw, too.
GA: I was six, so you were nine or ten?
“I think you can get lost in the pomp and, dare I say, the cliché of the classic fairy tale, but this version feels very human.”
NG: Round about, yes. My sister really wanted to go and see it, I went along as an afterthought. Acting wasn’t even close to being in my sphere, at the time. I actually told Idina about it recently, I was worried that she was going to think I was fanboying.
GA: Well, I feel like if you approach those things in a certain way… for me, Dave Grohl from Nirvana, who’s another one of my Jesuses…
NG: I like that you said, “Dave Grohl from Nirvana,” not, “Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters.”
GA: Yes, from Nirvana. He was at this screening for The Craft: Legacy. I didn’t know what to do. I went up to him, and I said this whole thing, and he got emotional, but I didn’t freak him out, I didn’t want to make him feel weird. I think it’s always daunting, talking to an idol. But back to Idina Menzel, it’s crazy that we both have that same experience, because I’ve actually been asked this question before, in interviews: “What made you want to start acting?” I always say, “I don’t really know.” But it was genuinely Wicked .
NG: It’s very hard to point to certain moments in your life and say, “That’s the genesis.” For me, the practical aspect of getting into the industry took a while. You come from a performing family.
GA: But watching my mum do stuff, I was never like, “I want to do that.” She didn’t do musical theatre.
NG: This is what I meant before – feel like something like Cinderella is on the horizon for you, because you do have this passion for musicals.
GA: Musicals! You and I are musical theatre nerds.
NG: Musical theatre and movie musicals have this ability to just capture an audience…
GA: They make people smile; you can’t stop smiling the whole time.
NG: You mentioned Idina, Billy, but there’s also Pierce Brosnan, who was my James Bond, growing up. The fact that he played my dad…
GA: He’s in Cinderella !
NG: Yes! And Minnie Driver is my mum. Dare I say, there are a few icons in the movie.
GA: Is this Pierce’s second musical? Because he did Mamma Mia.
NG: He did. I cannot confirm or deny whether he sings in this movie, because he did get a little bit of flack from his singing in Mamma Mia. But he’s a very, very good sport. He’s so wonderful as a person and anyone who tries to attack Pierce, ever, I will fight.
GA: I like his singing. Why are people hating it? In Mamma Mia, when he sings SOS, I’m like… dammmmmmn!
coat and shirt both by DRIES VAN NOTEN FW20
NG: What’s your favourite movie musical of all time?
GA: My mind went straight to Bye Bye Birdie and Rocky Horror Picture Show. Actually, Singin’ in the Rain, My Fair Lady…
NG: West Side Story is a classic.
GA: OK, top three: ‘Bye Bye Birdie, Some Like It Hot, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Singin’. I guess, top four.
NG: Okay, can I just put this to you for a second?
NG: Anyone who tries to tell me that one of the best musical soundtracks of all time isn’t Mulan I’m not having it. I’m not having it.
GA: I loved La La Land. I know some people are like, “Ooh… La La Land…” But I’ve seen it so many times.
NG: I saw it five times at the cinema.
GA: I watch it when I’m feeling down. That little lullaby used to be my ringtone.
NG: I love the dream sequence at the end, it felt like an ode to those old montages. With Cinderella, there was no expense spared in terms of setting up these incredible music and dance set pieces. It just feels magical to be a part of when you’re doing it.
GA: And you’re going to look so handsome. I’m going to freak out.
NG: You liked the picture of me as a prince on the horse, didn’t you? You thought that was pretty cool.
GA: Yes, I was like, “Nick! Jesus.”
NG: I was terrified, I knew that I had to do a lot of horse riding. You go up to these creatures, they’re majestic but they are scary, big animals that can sense when you’re afraid. My first session went terribly, we went into trot, which is the worst – you’re basically bouncing up and down. Let me tell you, for a guy, it is pretty damn painful.
GA: You weren’t wearing a cup or anything?
NG: No-one told me.
GA: Did they just assume you came extra padded?
NG: [laughs] Yes, someone really should have forewarned me about that, because the next day was pretty sore. But, for anyone who can ever get the chance to learn how to ride a horse, I would highly recommend it, there’s something therapeutic about it. I think it’s one of the few truly symbiotic relationships between animals and people. It’s an ancient relationship, since the dawn of time.
GA: I rode horses a lot when I was younger, in the Malibu Mountains. The horses are incredible. Also, horses, are dangerous.
NG: Well… I didn’t want to say it, but especially for someone of your stature… to climb up on a horse is… [both laugh].
GA: When I was younger, my horse was called Milkshake. It was at this camp I went to, it was the small horse.
NG: Was it a pony?
GA: No! It wasn’t a pony!
NG: Milkshake is a cute name for a horse. My horse’s name for Cinderella was Mufasa, he was the only stallion. As soon as I get a chance, I’m going back to do more riding, I made good friends with the guys at Steve Dent Stunts. They’re amazing at what they do.
coat by GIVENCHY FW20; shirt by HERMES FW20
“This industry is very good at bringing people together who don’t really feel like they belong.”
GA: Who would you say you admire most, and respect?
NG: What, in life?
GA: In the industry today, in life, or someone who makes you want to be better.
NG: God, what a question. Well, the cringey thing to say is my peers, especially having worked with you, and people like Camila [Cabello] in Cinderella, and a variety of other incredible actors, feeling part of a community. This industry is very good at bringing people together who don’t really feel like they belong. Learning from brilliant people is inherently inspirational, and seeing them in close proximity to you, working so hard and achieving amazing, creative feats, makes you just want to do better, not in a competitive way, but in a collaborative way.
GA: Jack Nicholson said something in an interview and I always stick to this motto: “The minute that you’re not learning, I believe you’re dead.” I think if you follow that, you’re going to be successful in whatever it is you want to do. Nowadays – if you put down your phone and just embrace the joy that is our industry around us – you learn so much.
NG: I think a lot of people will never be able to understand what an incredibly bizarre job it is. To lay yourself out in your most vulnerable state is a very scary thing to do. Any actor who really is able to undertake that challenge, the greats like Joaquin Phoenix, Robert Downey, Jr., Cate Blanchett and Anthony Hopkins… it motivates you. What would you say are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the industry?
GA: Something that’s always really bothered me is how people assume I am where I am through nepotism. I did this on my own, actually. I went to college, and I dropped out without telling my mum. I was like, “I’m coming home,” and then I told her what I wanted to do. She said, “Well, you have to do it on your own.” I said, “That’s what I want.” I found representation on my own, I did it by myself. It makes me really happy that I can say that, honestly. But one of the biggest challenges is, I guess, not comparing my path to other people’s. I have a really hard time with that.
NG: I’m sure a lot of people don’t feel that way about you, but if they do, they have to let it go. What is abundantly clear now, by the projects that you’re choosing and the work that you’re doing, is that it’s very separate from the perception of your family as an entity of artists. But I agree with what you were saying as well – comparing yourselves to others is this constant barrage in your mind.
Interview originally published in The HERO Winter Annual 2020.