The ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ director wants to make this gay Greek epic next. Will it happen?

The ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ director wants to make this gay Greek epic next. Will it happen?

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After the smash success of Red, White & Royal Blue, you’d think Hollywood would be throwing money at playwright-turned-director Matthew López to bring another beloved queer book to life.

But, sometimes it seems like Hollywood doesn’t want nice things!

Even though López successfully made the jump from stage to screen (he previously wrote the Tony Award-winning play The Inheritance), turning Casey McQuiston’s 2019 best-selling romance into one of Amazon Prime Video’s most-watched hits—and a very likely Emmy nominee—it turns out he’s still having trouble getting a green light for his next dream adaptation.

And the gag is: It’s not like he’s trying to make some out-there, esoteric, controversial passion project—he wants to make a TV series out of The Song Of Achilles, only one of the most popular novels of the past several years!

Image Credits: Ecco Press / HarperCollins

In the latest print edition of Variety, the filmmaker revealed his initial ideas for a Red, White & Royal Blue follow-up that sounded appropriately epic.

“I wanted to make it huge,” López shared of his plans for The Song Of Achilles. “I wanted to do a multi-season arc.” As he sees it, author Madeline Miller’s 2011 is far too sweeping to fit into a two-hour movie: “I was like, give me 40 hours of this.”

The New York Times best-seller is set during the Greek Heroic Age, following the years-long romance of legendary figures Patroclus and Achilles as the Trojan War rages on.

Surely, many are already familiar with Achilles, the Greek figure who gave us the term “Achilles heel”—and more importantly was played by Brad Pitt in the 2004 epic, Troy, which inspired many a sexual awakening. His relationship with childhood friend Patroclus has long been contested by historians: Were they BFFs or something more?

Miller explored the latter possibility in truly epic detail, crafting a queer romance for the ages in The Song Of Achilles, which received critical acclaim upon release in 2011 and has only continued to reach new readers as a major social media favorite on “BookTok.”

“What Madeline has done so brilliantly in her book,” López reflects, “is it causes us to think about how much queer erasure has gone on in our history—recent and ancient.”

An urgent and timely hook for modern audiences, larger-than-life romance, action, adventure, a built-in fan base—it’s like The Song Of Achilles has all the ingredients for a runaway hit!

And yet, it’s been a non-starter. López tells Variety he’s never gotten the “full story” on why his planned TV adaptation fell apart, but maintains he holds no ill will, implying that the book’s author is understandably cautious about handing over the reigns to her baby:

“If l am Madeline Miller and I have written a book as beloved as that, I would probably want to be pretty circumspect about what I did with it because you generally only get to do it once,” the filmmaker says.

But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. López shares he put in hours and hours of research on the Trojan War, rereading classical odyssey The Iliad, and even consulting with Stephen Fry, the gay comedy legend who plays the King in Red, White & Royal Blue and happens to be quite an expert on Greek antiquity.

Naturally, when one’s dreaming up a major book adaptation, a big question arises: Who would play the protagonists?

Well, even before López’s Song Of Achilles plans were known, fans were clamoring to see Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zakhar Perez as the Greek heroes—and idea that filmmaker was not into whatsoever:

“I’ll be honest with you, I think that is the worst idea,” he shares with a laugh. “Please add that I say that with a smile because I do. But Nick and Taylor are already young men. The Song Of Achilles is about boys who are becoming young men. It’s the crucible of that war that turns them into adults and that’s what is so exciting about the long-form journey of that.”

He brings up a good point about age, which we suppose might take Mason Gooding—who seemed to be lobbying for a part in a hypothetical adaptation earlier this year—out of the running, too. To which we say: Can somebody write some age-appropriate historical roles for these guys? We need to see them all in period-accurate revealing Greek costumes, stat!

In the end, López hasn’t quite given up on The Song Of Achilles yet—and seems to have a good head on his shoulders about the whole ordeal: “You have to allow yourself to fall in love with the things that you won’t actually do. It’s the only way to really convince other people to give you the money to do them. The only way I knew how to approach Achilles was to start making the show in my head.”

Besides, Red, White & Royal Blue 2—and 3?—isn’t going to direct itself!

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