How Red, White and Royal Blue director’s TV version of queer book The Song of Achilles ‘fell apart’

Director Matthew López alongside a Greek helmet from the cover of The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles is an acclaimed LGBTQ+ novel by Madeline Miller charting the love story of demigod Achilles and exiled Greek royal Patroclus.

It recently emerged that the novel had a TV series in development from Red, White and Royal Blue director Matthew López – but the project “fell apart”.

Released in 2011, The Song of Achilles is a retelling by Miller of Greek epic The Iliad, told from the point of view of exiled Greek royalty Patroclus. It focuses on his romantic relationship with mythological hero Achilles, set against the bloody backdrop of the Trojan War.

The hugely popular queer novel had sold 2 million copies by 2022, and fans have been yearning for a live action adaptation since it entered the wider consciousness, with fan castings weekly thrown around X.

It turns out that their wishes nearly came to fruition, with Red, White and Royal Blue director Matthew López at the helm – but the project stalled.

Revealed in a print version of Variety that has been posted to X, López confirmed that he was developing the novel into a TV series, but that it “fell apart”

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“There were weeks of researching the Trojan War,” he reportedly told the publication. “I was rereading The Iliad. I was conferring with Stephen Fry, who is a knowledgable historian in his own right and has written a lot about the Trojan War.

“I wanted to take The Song of Achilles, and I wanted to make it huge. I wanted to do a multi-season arc.”

López also praised Miller for her novel, and emphasised that although the series fell apart for unspecified reasons, he doesn’t have any grudges.

“If I 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,” he said, adding that the potential series wouldn’t have been anything other than the aforementioned “multi-season arc.”

“When I looked at Song of Achilles, I was like, ‘Give me 40 hours of this,'” he added.

But, in a blow to Nicholas Galitzine and Taylor Zakhar Perez fans everywhere hellbent on casting the pair as a potential Achilles and Patroclus, López is (understandably) reticent about the idea.

“I’ll be honest with you, I think that is the worst idea,” he told Variety. “But 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 war that turns them into adults, and that’s what is so exciting about the long-form journey of that,” he reasoned.

Happily, López hasn’t given up entirely. “You have to allow yourself to fall in love with the things that you won’t actually do,” he said.

“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 The Song of Achilles was to star making the show in my head.”

It’s not as if fans will be starved of content from López in the coming years, though – or, indeed, Galitzine or Perez.

All three will reunite on a Red, White and Royal Blue sequel (that we’re petitioning to be called Red, White and Royal Two.)

Galitzine has also just been announced as He-Man in an Amazon Prime live action reboot of Masters of the Universe, having recently played the (very horny) George Villiers alongside Julianne Moore in Mary & George and a not-Harry-Styles-inspired popstar Hayes Campbell with Anne Hathaway in The Idea of You.

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