Lifetime's Prince William Defends Movie Against Critics

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"Tom Hooper didn't direct this, this isn't 'The King's Speech,'" jokes Nico Evers-Swindell to THR after one writer called the film "toe-curlingly, teeth-furringly, pillow-bitingly ghastly."

Critics have called Lifetime's William & Kate movie -- which aired Monday night in the U.S. -- "toe-curlingly, teeth-furringly, pillow-bitingly ghastly."

But Nico Evers-Swindell, who plays Prince William, laughs off the harsh words.

"There's a good reason I'm not reading the reviews," Evers-Swindell jokes to The Hollywood Reporter. "You're dealing with the golden boy and golden girl of Britain right now… This wasn't a British production, Tom Hooper didn't direct this, this isn't The King's Speech. This isn't an in-depth look at the royal family." PHOTOS: Summer's biggest movies.

"I don't know [what] anyone could have expected in 30 days of development, from a network that's known for romance…" he goes on. "It was always intended to be a fun ride, a light romance, a love story at the heart, and just a jolly good time." (Even his fiancee was jealous of the proposal that ends the movie, set against a fiery sunset in Africa.)

He calls the script -- which contains lines from Prince Harry (Justin Hanlon) like, "I'm not the heir, I'm just the spare" -- "fun, whimsical and romantic."

"It ticks along very quickly," he says. "There isn't a lot of melodrama, it doesn't dwell on certain back issues… I thought it was lively and fun and ultimately built to get people excited about the wedding. It was a nice complement to the coverage we'll see in the next week rather than trying to stir any controversy or have a political agenda or dig deep into the psyche of the royal family."

Kate Middleton and Prince William announced their engagement Nov. 16. In late January, Evers-Swindell was cast as William with Camilla Luddington to play Kate. Shooting began on Feb. 8, and wrapped just 19 days later.

Evers-Swindell had about five days to research his part. "It was a race against the clock from day one," he tells THR. "I watched every interview I could get my hands on. There's not a lot of footage of William, and there's less of Kate." PHOTOS: Inside another Hollywood romance

With just the one engagement interview to work from, Luddington, "could present the Kate that fit the story we were telling," says Evers-Swindell. "When you see her performance, it's sassy, very come hither. It was a very free interpretation of what she thought Kate was like."

They taped 12 to 15 hours a day without a lot of takes. "That's the nature of the beast when making a TV movie. For my first lead role, it was an incredible learning experience," he says.

Evers-Swindell also didn't think the movie was hurt by being filmed in Los Angeles instead of London.

"Had we filmed in England, it would have been a very different production… We would have been hounded more by the media if we filmed there," he tells THR. "We were really lucky with the weather: it was cold and wet and miserable. The location scout did a great job considering the circumstances. Having seen the finished product, I'm really happy with the visual element."

And the part has opened a few doors for Evers-Swindell, who before this, had starred in an episode of Law and Order, soap Guiding Light and NCIS: L.A. "I've had a great pilot season," he says. PHOTOS: Highest-paid stars

It airs in the U.K. on April 24, and then will be released in a collector's edition DVD by Revolver Films.


Twitter: @LKPE