Nicholas Galitzine on ‘Mary & George’ Sex Scenes, Tom Cruise’s Influence on ‘The Idea of You’ and His Disastrous ‘Dunkirk’ Audition

Nicholas Galitzine may have told his parents that he has a lot of sex scenes in “Mary & George” with both women and men, but that didn’t keep things from getting awkward when his mom and dad were by his side at the series’ London premiere.

“I was kind of in hysterics because there is nothing more uncomfortable than watching your son bed a number of characters even within the first few episodes,” the British actor, 29, tells me during a wide-ranging conversation on this week’s “Just for Variety” podcast.

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“Mary & George” chronicles the real-life story of Mary Villiers (Julianne Moore), a woman in 17th century England who was so hungry for power that she successfully pushed her son George (Galitzine) into becoming lovers with King James (Tony Curran). Created by D.C. Moore, the seven-episode series is based on the non-fiction book “The King’s Assassin: The Fatal Affair of George Villiers and James” and premieres on Starz on April 5.

Galitzine believes the sex on the show is “really integral to the plot and not just salacious.” While he also feels a genuine love developed between George and the king, “George’s appetite couldn’t be satiated.”

For the record, Galitzine says he doesn’t follow the news and gossip about today’s royal family. “I think that’s kind of symptomatic of my generation growing up in the U.K.,” he says. Although he does concede, “They’re certainly entertaining.”

Next month, Galitzine headlines Michael Showalter’s “The Idea of You” with Anne Hathaway. Galitzine plays Hayes Campbell, the lead singer of a boy band who falls in love with an older woman named Solène (Hathaway) after she brings her daughter to the group’s meet-and-greet at Coachella. The rom-com premiered at South by Southwest in March.

The Idea of You
Nicholas Galitzine and Anne Hathaway in “The Idea of You.”

In one scene, Hayes dances for Solène in just a pair of black boxer briefs after some steamy alone time in a hotel room. It immediately brings to mind Tom Cruise’s iconic “Old Time Rock and Roll” lip-sync in “Risky Business.”

“That was one of the references in my head,” Galitzine says. “I think that’s my favorite scene actually in [‘The Idea of You’] because I think so much about what is talked about with this movie is obviously the more intimate scenes, but really I think the most powerful expression of love is the aftercare in a way and the connection after.”

As for his boy band performances, Galitzine looked to BTS and Backstreet Boys for inspiration. “I always reiterate: I am not a dancer,” he says. “I tried my best over having a few weeks of rehearsal, but these are skills that are honed for the majority of people’s lives. And my boy band members are all professional dancers. So I said, ‘Listen, you old shits, you better not make me look bad, OK?’”

Galitzine’s acting career began when he got a role in a play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. An indie with the late Luke Perry followed. His spotlight grew brighter when he played Prince Charming opposite Camila Cabello in the 2021 movie musical remake of “Cinderella” and as a prince of modern-day England in the queer rom-com “Red, White and Royal Blue,” co-starring Taylor Zakhar Perez.

But then there was his audition for “Dunkirk.” He says he “got very far” in the process. So much so that he was called in to read with director Christopher Nolan. “He starts reading the scene, [but] it’s not the scene that I prepared,” Galitzine recalls. He tried to improvise thinking Nolan may have been testing him, but then he froze. “I’m just staring at him for what feels like an eternity,” Galitzine remembers. “And I finally plucked up the courage to say, ‘I’m sorry, Christopher Nolan, you have the wrong scene or I’d just been royally screwed up by my team.’”

Most recently, there were rumors that Galitzine signed on to play Johnny Storm in “The Fantasic Four” reboot. While Galitzine confirms he had “conversations” about the superhero project, the part eventually went to Joseph Quinn (“Stranger Things”), something Galitzine knew before it was announced because the two are friends. However, Galitzine called his team when the internet speculation got too loud: “I was like, ‘Guys, I’m sure it’s not true, but I have to make certain it’s not true. And they go, ‘Yeah, it’s not true.’”

Perhaps Galitzine will pop up as a guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” He was turned on to the show –Crystal Methyd is among his favorite contestants — by his sister. He was once given a drag name — Anita Greencard — by a makeup artist on “Purple Hearts,” his hit Netflix romantic drama with Sofia Carson. A full drag transformation would happen on “Mary & George” when filming was delayed one day due to snowstorm. “My costumer became a drag king and I became a drag queen,” Galitzine says. “We sort of did the makeup for a few hours, and I kind of went around tormenting people…It’s so much joy. And I have to say the talent and the time that goes into doing this, I have so much respect for them.”

You can listen to the full interview with Galitzine above or you can download “Just for Variety” wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

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