In 2011, Anglophiles the world over tuned in to watch "commoner" Kate Middleton, wearing custom Alexander McQueen, marry the future king of England. The circumstances surrounding the upcoming royal wedding are uncannily similar, as the American divorcée and Suits actress Meghan Markle prepares to wed Prince Harry. Also eerily identical? The actors who are playing their counterparts in the inevitable Lifetime film — premiering on Sunday, May 13 — Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. So who plays Meghan and Harry in their Lifetime biopic?
The actress portraying Markle looks so much like her that it's shocking the pair aren't related. Parisa Fitz-Helney is, per her IMDb, a Jamaican-American actress who's most known for playing Reva Connors in both the Jessica Jones and Luke Cage Netflix Marvel series.
According to an interview on The Today Show, Fitz-Helney was first exposed to the Suits actress when she watched her and Prince Harry's engagement interview. "I just thought, 'What an interesting character she would be,'" Fitz-Henley told Kathie Lee and Hoda. "'I'm sure they'll make a movie someday.' And I said to my manager, 'Hey, if they make one, I'd love to just audition for this.'"
As luck would have it, Fitz-Henley met a young actor named Murray Fraser at her audition for the Lifetime film. The two actors explained in the same Today Show segment that they decided to go to lunch afterward, not knowing if they got the parts or not. Luckily for everyone, they were both cast.
And the two have palpable chemistry, both in the interviews they've done on their press junket and on social media. In an attempt to get Fraser to join Instagram, for example, Fitz-Henley posted a flattering headshot of the actor on her own account, urging fans to like it. She explained that Fraser agreed to join Instagram if the post got more than 1,000 likes. It currently has 1,847 likes, as of the publishing of this article, so fingers crossed that the Scotsman is true his word.
Yes, Fraser is Scottish. The faux-redhead (he dyed it for his stint as Harry) explained in the same Today appearance that he is from Falkirk, which is in the middle of the country. Per The Sun, Fraser is 23 and attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, graduating just two years ago. The young Scotsman is best known for his role on The Loch, a 2017 mini-series set in his home country, in which he plays a cop named Jason Denny. He also appeared in an episode of the British series Victoria. However, Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance is his first breakout role.
And the duo tackled their royal roles with vigor. According to an interview with Vanity Fair's Julie Miller, Fraser watched interviews with Harry and spoke in a royal British accent (refraining from his Scottish lilt) throughout the five-week movie shoot. Fitz-Henley, however, prepared for her Markle run by watching The Crown ("You need to," she told Fraser when he admitted to never seeing it) and reading the actress's now-defunct blog, The Tig, along with watching Markle's interviews and acting reels.
And perhaps it's the fact that she studied Markle's mannerisms like it was her job (because it was), but the way Fitz-Henley carries and expresses herself is reminiscent of that same poise fans will recognize from Markle herself. "I love Meghan's confidence," Fitz-Henley told The Today Show in the same appearance. "And she's just such a wonderful example for women." Who better to play Markle than someone who admires the woman she's playing?
As for the movie itself, Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance, the excitement leading up to its premiere has reached an almost fever pitch. So what are audiences to expect going in? "There are parts of [the movie] that feel like a sweet romantic comedy," Fitz-Henley told British publication Metro. "There are parts of it that I think will make a lot of people cry, but it’s mainly because of the reality that we’re trying to reflect."
If the trailer is any indication, audiences will see Harry transform from a roughish playboy to doting boyfriend as he combats Buckingham Palace's stiff traditions to follow his heart. There will also be appearances from royal family members like Kate Middleton (Laura Mitchell), Prince William (Burgess Abernethy), Prince Charles (Steve Coulter), Camilla Bowles (Deborah Ramsay), and even Princess Diana (Bonnie Soper). Keep the tissues handy, because Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance promises to be a tear-jerker.