The CROWN RULES

Chan­nel Ten takes on Aus­tralia’s royal fairy­tale

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE - By HOLLY BYRNES

RYAN O’Kane is try­ing to con­vince me of his princely charms.

The New Zealand ac­tor, who plays Aus­tralia’s royal son-in-law Crown Prince Fred­erik of Den­mark, has al­ready show­cased his at­tempt at his screen ego’s Euro­pean ac­cent but con­cedes “it can very eas­ily slip into a lit­tle bit of Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger. You know, ‘I be­long to her … now get to the chopper!’.

With his co-star Emma Hamil­ton shak­ing her head be­side him, the 32-year-old then of­fers some­thing from his “very wide reper­toire of bad, bad jokes”.

“I like this one,” he tells TV Guide. “You have to work it into con­ver­sa­tion … you say, ‘Hey, you’ll never guess who I bumped into in the op­tometrist the other day,” paus­ing, “ev­ery­one!”

Hamil­ton is the pic­ture of poise as he falls about laugh­ing, be­fore she mock-protests. “This is what I’ve had to put up with the whole time.”

Turn­ing to me, O’Kane ap­peals, with a wink. “Hard to re­sist, aren’t I?”

It’s the kind of cheeky ban­ter you could imag­ine took place be­tween Tas­ma­nian Mary Don­ald­son and the hand­some man she would later dis­cover to be the fu­ture heir to the world’s old­est royal king­dom af­ter their chance meet­ing in a Syd­ney pub. Whether you bought into that royal fairy tale back in 2000, when they mar­ried five years later, or will ap­proach Chan­nel Ten’s tele­movie, Mary, The Mak­ing of a Princess with sim­i­lar scep­ti­cism, there’s no doubt­ing the on-screen chem­istry be­tween the ac­tors charged to retell this most un­likely ro­mance.

While both know the eyes of the world’s royal watch­ers will be upon them, they share a gen­uine re­spect for the sac­ri­fice the real cou­ple had to make for their story to come true.

Hamil­ton, who makes her Aus­tralian TV de­but in this lead role, is in­spired by the pop­u­lar young royal she plays, who has had to craft a place for her­self in the spot­light, and on the other side of the world.

“From my re­search and the script, I could see that she was a very in­tel­li­gent, strong, com­pas­sion­ate woman, who was de­ter­mined to make her mark on the world and be the best per­son she could be, pri­vately. But I also think she’s some­one who was, ini­tially, per­haps scep­ti­cal about ro­mance and fairy tale end­ings, so it was en­joy­able to watch her grow and re­alise the love in front of her was real and could stand the test of time.”

Hamil­ton knows the chal­lenge of hav­ing to shape a life for your­self away from fam­ily and fa­mil­iar sur­round­ings, work­ing largely from her base in Lon­don (where she re­cently fin­ished star­ring as one of the famed Dolly sis­ters, in the up­com­ing sea­son of Seven’s UK drama se­ries Mr Sel­fridge). But it was her char­ac­ter’s re­gal wardrobe which helped her feel the part, es­pe­cially the red dress Don­ald­son wore to a pre-wed­ding gala at Copenhagen’s Na­tional Theatre in 2005.

With the scene to be filmed one Mon­day dur­ing the pro­duc­tion, us­ing Syd­ney’s Gov­ern­ment House as a back­drop, Hamil­ton went to the wardrobe depart­ment on the Fri­day be­fore a lit­tle wor­ried what she was to wear.

“Ev­ery­one on set was al­ready talk­ing about their gor­geous gowns and suits and I thought to my­self, ‘I don’t re­mem­ber try­ing any­thing on?’ When I asked they say, ‘Oh yes, we’ve de­cided to make you a gor­geous Duchess satin red cou­ture gown’ and they knocked it up in two days. It was ab­so­lutely incredible and on the Mon­day morn­ing, there it was and it fit­ted me like a glove.”

Giv­ing his royal seal of ap­proval, O’Kane says: “She looked stun­ning, very re­gal Mary.”

MARY, THE MAK­ING OF A PRINCESS SUN­DAY, 8.30PM, TEN

Pic­ture: Reuters

A royal af­fair: Ryan O’Kane and Emma Hamil­ton as Den­mark’s Crown Prince Fred­erik and Crown Princess Mary (above) and (in­set right) the real royal cou­ple.

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