Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hallmark Channel’s 'Prince William' hails from Shelby Township

One grew up in Buckingham Palace, the other in Detroit. One stands to inherit the throne and the other inherited his mother's love for the arts.

Prince William and Dan Amboyer were born worlds apart but audiences will see them as one in the Hallmark Channel's film "William & Catherine: A Royal Romance" airing 9 p.m., Aug. 27.

"I'm really excited about it coming out," said Amboyer, 27, of New York and the youngest son of Don and Claudia Amboyer of Shelby Township. "We shot in May and June in Romania. I've seen bits and pieces in editing but I'm really excited to see it all come together."

Photos courtesy of Hallmark Channel

"William & Catherine" chronicles the love story between Prince William (Dan Amboyer) and his sweetheart of eight years Kate Middleton (Alice St. Clair) from the couple's first meeting as students to the moment of their highly publicized wedding. The stellar cast includes Hollywood veterans Victor Garber ("Alias," "Titanic") as William's father Prince Charles, and multi-Emmy and Tony Award-winner Jane Alexander as William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

Victor Garber as Prince Charles

"It was great to be able to work with such seasoned actors. (Victor) got in touch with me before we went to Romania, so we could get to know each other," said Amboyer, the lone Yank who beat out a lengthy list of British actors for William's role. "He was so supportive. We still keep in touch."

Jane Alexander as Queen Elizabeth II
Also fantastic in her role as the steadfast leader of the royal family was Alexander. Amboyer said he wasn't quite sure what to expect considering her star status, but soon discovered that she loves what she does.

"She was excited to be there," Amboyer said. A newcomer to American audiences is St. Clair, whose father heads the security detail for Queen Elizabeth II and was likely a key figure in the security for the royal wedding.

"I had a really great feeling about her, that we were a good match," Amboyer said. "Hopefully that will translate to the screen."
He's not sure if it made the cuts, but if he were to choose a moment that best illustrated the chemistry they had on the set it would be "the laundry scene." It wasn't a major, even climatic scene, but to Amboyer, very memorable. "She was teaching me how to do laundry and for some reason, we just had the best time," Amboyer said. "It was fun. We did some impromptu."

Alice St. Clair and Dan Amboyer as Kate and Prince William.
 Also memorable was the shoot at the presidential palace in Bucharest, Romania. He and Garber were acting out a scene as Prince William and Prince Charles, only to discover that across the way in another wing, the real Prince Charles was visiting friends.

As to the reasoning behind filming in Romania, Amboyer said they had unlimited access to royal palaces similar to those in England. Also, the film's writer, producer and director Linda Yellen, who met Princess Diana several times, is keen on details. And while it's not likely that HRH would have invited filmmakers to inhabit Buckingham Palace, the president of Romania did, rolled out the red carpet and then left them to film.
"I was taken aback by how welcoming the Romanian people were," said Amboyer. "I would have liked to have seen more of the countryside, but I was working 12 hours a day, six days a week."

Lesley Harcourt with the young actor playing Will as lad.
While in Romania, Amboyer's parents were invited to visit the set, but declined. It wasn't that they wouldn't have enjoyed the trip or seeing their youngest son acting on the set, but because they've chosen to be non-typical theater parents.

"We're the strong silent type," said Don Amboyer. "As with all of our children, we're in the background supporting their pursuits in life."

Yet he could not help but be proud of Dan's success.

"He's wanted to be an actor since he was about 5 years old," said the senior Amboyer, who has earned his own list of accolades as a longtime Macomb County Jail administrator and educator. His wife and Dan's mother Claudia, who often rehearses lines with her son over the phone, is also a retired science teacher.

Mark Penfold, Dan Amboyer and Stanley Eldridge.
"He was so blessed in knowing what he wanted to do and everything in his life has been in pursuit of that dream," Don Amboyer said.

One of the people who saw and supported Dan's passion early on was Janice Haines, founder of the Macomb Children's Chorus was Amboyer's fifth-grade music teacher at Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills.

"She taught me how to be a good performer, artist and hopefully a good person," said Dan Amboyer, who earned several state awards under Hines' direction, and entry into Michigan's Interlochen Arts Academy, and Carnegie Mellon University's prestigious School of Drama.

Dan Amboyer
The young actor has worked in numerous productions, on and off Broadway, and appeared on such TV series as "Law & Order" and "Body of Proof," before landing the role of England's Prince William.

The role was made a little easier by the amount of royal wedding footage available to study. Amboyer observed that William proudly fulfills his duties as a prince, but downplays his status as a British royal. He also noted that William, like his mother Diana, gets a doe-eyed look when he's playing around, and he also bites his lip when he's nervous. 

"My goal wasn't just to imitate but to find a balance between him and me," Amboyer said, revealing just a twinge of the heavy English accent he learned for his role. "I allowed myself to be William and to take in what I know to be true of him."

I am and always will be an HRH. But out of personal choice I like to be called William because that is my name and I want people to call me William - for now -- Prince William.

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