The story of Cinderella has arguably been around for thousands of years – there’s been an Italian version, a Greek version, and then of course the famed Walt Disney version brought to life in the 1950s via big screen animation.
What’s not to love about the story? A lonely and orphaned young girl not only meets a fairy Godmother who transforms her into a princess, she even meets the man who will forever save her from the life of domestic servant-hood, bare feet and mean step-sisters: Prince Charming.
On the animated version, we don’t know – or care – too much about him. He’s generous, gracious, determined, courageous, handsome, and well, Prince-like. We don’t know where exactly he came from to attend the ball nor where he takes her to live happily ever after. And we don’t care. He’s definitely a supporting role, not the star of the show. He’s the construct we need in order for the princess dream to come true. But who is he, when you take away Cinderella?
Producer Alli Shearmur says they really needed to look no further than Richard Madden, according to USA today.
“This search really began and ended with Richard. We needed inner strength and emotional intelligence. It’s crucial, since in the original, Prince Charming didn’t even have a last name.”
Madden himself notes that it is a character that people aren’t sure how to address, so having a sense of humor is absolutely critical- it reduces tension and puts people at ease.
“People are going to be nervous to meet him, so he had to have the quality of putting people at ease. And it shows he can make fun of himself.”
And of course, any Prince Charming is going to have to be able to show horsemanship. Madden discusses some of the awkward and funny scenes he’s had showing his equestrian skills, especially when his Cinderella (Lily James) had to ride her steed bareback and without reigns. He says that onscreen, everything plays out beautifully, but it was with a lot of luck.
“There was acting there and there was actually trying to stop her horse. I would go up beside her and yank the horse to a stop. I was actually doing that. I’m lucky to get jobs where I get these amazing film horses that make me look much better than I am.”
And finally, it would be remiss to not point out that Prince Charming always wore very tight britches. That’s a bit problematic when you go from an animated movie to a scene played by a real man. So, while they tried to keep the costume authentic, it had to be in good taste for its young viewers. Madden said the trousers were a bit interesting.
“You get used to it. But you do feel exposed all the time. I am not used to wearing such tight trousers.”
[Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images]