Matthew Lopez, the director of Red, White & Royal Blue, says the film’s sex scenes are “essential” to understanding the relationship between Alex and Prince Henry.

Based on Casey McQuiston’s bestseller of the same name, the Prime Video rom-com follows the star-crossed romance between Alex (Taylor Zahkar Perez), the son of America’s first-ever female president (Uma Thurman), and Henry (Nicholas Galitzine), a British prince.

The novel is famous for the number of intimate scenes between the duo, which is why fans widely celebrated Red, White & Royal Blue‘s R-rating earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview with GAY TIMES, Lopez says the team “took great care” in bringing the sex scenes to life: “What’s in the movie is absolutely essential to understanding who these two people are to one another.

“I was very clear with the producers from the beginning that we’re not going to shy away from depicting how two men have sex with each other. But, we’re also going to make sure that we never lose sight of the fact that it’s Alex and Henry having a moment of deep, emotional connection.”

Lopez reveals there are only “20 seconds” in the entire film in which neither one of the characters appear. “Everything boils down to Alex and Henry,” he explains.

“Anything that isn’t about understanding them as individuals or as a couple simply doesn’t belong. Does it help me understand the characters and their relationship? If it does, we film it. If we film it and it doesn’t, it doesn’t go in the film.”

Red, White & Royal Blue marks the directorial debut for Lopez.

He is best known for his work on the stage, receiving universal critical acclaim for writing the LGBTQ+ classic The Inheritance, which made him the first Latine writer to win the Tony Award for Best Play.

Lopez has committed the last “two-and-a-half years” of his life to adapting Red, White & Royal Blue and is “incredibly proud” of the final product, particularly the casting of Zahkar Perez and Galitzine as the leads.

“I spent months seeing people for this,” he shares.

“Before we started the casting process I was like, ‘If we don’t find these two, then we can’t make this movie. It’s not worth making this movie with people who are almost right.’ That was the high bar we set for ourselves.”

Zahkar Perez and Galitzine always “stayed very high” on Lopez’s list, although the “big test” came down to how much chemistry the two actors had with one another.

“Nick was Henry and Taylor was Alex, but were they going to be great together as Henry and Alex? We put them on a Zoom together and to my great relief, the chemistry was there. We knew we had a movie five minutes in because their chemistry was undeniable.

“They’re sensitive and smart enough to know they needed each other. They were very competitive with each other, in a fun way. They goofed off and would try and screw each other up. But, when it counted, they showed up for one another.

“Every time the camera was on the other one, they never phoned it in, they knew they had to deliver.”

The official synopsis for Red, White & Royal Blue reads: “Separated by an ocean, [Alex and Henry’s] long-running feud hasn’t really been an issue, until a disastrous—and very public—altercation at a royal event becomes tabloid fodder, driving a potential wedge in U.S./British relations at the worst possible time.

“Going into damage-control mode, their families and handlers force the two rivals into a staged “truce.” But as Alex and Henry’s icy relationship unexpectedly begins to thaw into a tentative friendship, the friction that existed between them sparks something deeper than they ever expected.”

Red, White & Royal Blue’s cast also includes Clifton Collins Jr., Sarah Shahi, Rachel Hilson, Stephen Fry, Ellie Bamber, Thomas Flynn, Malcolm Atobrah, Akshay Khanna, Sharon D Clarke, Aneesh Sheth and Juan Castano.

The film premieres 11 August on Prime Video – watch the trailer here or below.