Netflix’s 2018 film The Princess Switch and its 2020 sequel, The Princess Switch: Switched Again, are the epitome of cozy, feel-good holiday romance films. The first movie follows Stacey, a baker from Chicago (played by Vanessa Hudgens) who enters a Christmas baking competition in the made-up European country Belgravia. Here, she meets Margaret, a duchess (also played by Vanessa Hudgens), who just so happens to be her doppelgänger. The two decide to switch places, and soon Stacy has fallen for Margaret’s fiancé, none other than the Prince of Belgravia, and Margaret is head over heels for Stacey’s BFF, Kevin.
The sequel to The Princess Switch takes things up a notch by introducing a third lookalike, Margaret’s cousin Fiona (and yes, she’s also played by Vanessa Hudgens). In this film, Margaret has just inherited the throne and Fiona orchestrates yet another “princess switch” — except this time it’s a three-way switch and, you guessed it, it’s absolutely bonkers. As the The New York Times put it, the film is “a holiday game of musical thrones [that] keeps Vanessa Hudgens whirling through costumes and accents.” Here’s the untold truth of how these nutty holiday classics came to be.
Vanessa Hudgens' mom was on set of The Princess Switch, and became a mother figure for everyone
Vanessa Hudgens is without a doubt the star of the show in both of The Princess Switch movies — after all, she plays two characters in the first film, and three in the second! As it turns out, Hudgens had her mom, Gina Guangco, on set with her during the entire first film. As the director Mike Rohl explained to Vanity Fair, she was actually a really important part of production. “She’s a sparkly, giggly Filipino lady who’s just lovely,” Rohl gushed. “We ended up calling her Mama G by the very end.” Apparently, she pretty much took on the role of on-set mom throughout the shoot. Sounds like the cast and crew really did become like a family!
Based on the director’s adorable comments about Hudgen’s mom from The Princess Switch, it came as no surprise when she reappeared on set for the sequel. As Metro reported, Guangco showed up to the set in Glasgow to watch her daughter film at the cathedral — and probably to catch up with all of her old friends from film number one!
The Princess Switch was shot in a tiny Romanian town
By the sound of things, filming the first Princess Switch was a seriously magical experience. As Vanessa Hudgens explained to Click The City, the movie was shot in a very small Romanian town — in fact, the entire cast stayed in the same hotel. “We were in a little town and there was one restaurant that we could go to and we would all be together all the time,” Hudgens recalled.
For the second Princess Switch film, the team moved to Edinburgh. As Sam Palladio, a.k.a. Prince Edward confessed to Brief Take, it was a nice change of pace. He described the first location as a “middle of nowhere town which was beautiful but we were a little cooped up in our hotel.”
While the cast and crew had a fabulous time filming The Princess Switch, according to the director, Mike Rohl, the locals found the filming a bit overwhelming. “We shot it in a small city that’s never seen anything like this happen in their town before,” Rohl told Vanity Fair. “It’s right up near the Hungarian border, in Transylvania, of all places.” Wow, talk about on location!
There are some not-so-subtle references to The Parent Trap in The Princess Switch
If you’ve ever seen Disney’s 1998 classic The Parent Trap, you’ll know that it bears more than a few similarities to The Princess Switch. The movie stars Lindsay Lohan — who’s undergone a stunning transformation — as two twins separated at birth. When they meet, they decide to switch places to bring their divorced parents back together — sound familiar? As Bustle pointed out, you’ll see similar moments in The Princess Switch, including the girls’ first meeting, the way they mimic each other’s accents, the secret handshake, and so on.
As it turns out, The Princess Switch actually paid homage to The Parent Trap on purpose. As director Mike Rohl told Vanity Fair, “All we’re doing is a new arrangement of somebody else’s orchestration, and putting our own color to it.” And apparently, Vanessa Hudgens couldn’t have been happier about it. As she told People, “My sister and I used to act out the scenes from the movie. It’s still such a go-to of mine.” She added that she hoped The Princess Switch would go on to be as legendary as the Lindsay Logan classic.
Even the director didn't really know who the mysterious old man was meant to be in The Princess Switch
Ok, we need to talk about the mysterious old man who appears in both Princess Switch films. He’s a benevolent character who first pops up in Chicago outside of Stacey’s bakery, before he turns up again on the other side of the world in Belgravia with his own market stall. It turns out, he knows everything about Stacey and Margaret’s switch before it happens, and he keeps helping them throughout the film. Is he a magic Christmas matchmaker? Bizarrely, the film literally never explains who he is!
As it turns out, even The Princess Switch director Mike Rohl didn’t know who the mystery man was supposed to be! “I think he is a magical being, and his whole purpose was to create the circumstances or guide the circumstances so that these people had to meet each other and to create happiness,” he confessed in an interview with Vanity Fair. “That’s his whole thing.” Sounds like he didn’t really get it either, but to be honest, it all just adds to the charmingly ridiculous nature of the movie anyway.
The mysterious old man in The Princess Switch was originally meant to be a twin
One thing we do know about the magical mystery man in The Princess Switch is that he was originally written a little differently. In an interview with The Anglophile Channel on YouTube, writers Robin Bernheim Burger and Megan Metzger revealed that he changed over the course of the writing process. “He had a very strange evolution because originally he was a twin,” Metzger said. It sounds like he was initially meant to mirror the main plot line — there may have even been two twin switches in the original script.
Metzger went on to explain, “Over time that got reworked into him just being sort of like a magical character and there was only one of him.” Even though we never really find out where this magical man comes from, we have to say, another set of identical characters may have been a little too confusing!
Prince Edward actor Sam Palladio contributed a few songs to The Princess Switch's soundtrack
Sam Palladio played Prince Edward in both Princess Switch films — and it turns out, that’s not all he did. Palladio also contributed his musical talents by writing several songs for the soundtrack. As writer Robin Bernheim Burger told The Anglophile Channel, Palladio’s original music is used at the beginning and end of the first movie. He also wrote and sang “Bring the Snow,” and sang on three other songs: “Jolly Switch,” “Merry Christmas Wishes,” and “Switch Wish.” We kind of wish they’d just gone ahead and made the movie a musical!
As Palladio told Bustle, “Bring the Snow” only happened because he was inspired after watching the first cut of the movie. “Having watched the film, I thought we all put a lot of work in and it became a great little piece,” he recalled. “I was really pleased with it and really proud of it, and I just thought, ‘You know what? This needs an original Christmas song.'” Thank goodness Palladio is so multi-talented — “Bring the Snow” definitely completes the movie!
Playing three characters (who all play each other) in The Princess Switch was a bit nuts for Vanessa Hudgens
If you thought the first Princess Switch was hard to follow, the second will leave you totally befuddled. The Princess Switch: Switched Again adds yet another lookalike character for Vanessa Hudgens to play. As she explained to Screen Rant, the experience was anything but easy. “I do love a challenge, and a challenge it was,” she joked.
As Hudgens went on to explain, it was actually even more complicated that playing three characters, as each of her characters were also trying to play another character, as they’d all switched places — try to wrap your head around that! “The characters are switching, so it’s like, six characters, all put together in one,” she continued. “So my brain, definitely, was working on overdrive. But I feel like what we achieved is magic.” We definitely have to agree.
In a shot-by-shot video from Netflix Film Club, we get to see just how complicated it must have been for Hudgens. The team had to deal with lining up shots, body doubles, quick hair and makeup switches, and more. “It was so confusing,” she added.
Does The Princess Switch take place in the same universe as A Christmas Prince?
If you’re a fan of The Princess Switch, you’ve probably also tuned in to watch Netflix’s other holiday room-com series, A Christmas Prince. The two stories have a lot in common: an American girl travels to a European land where everyone has English accents, and she falls in love with a handsome Prince while in disguise. Clearly, it’s a formula that works!
It turns out, the two movies might actually take place in the same universe. In fact, in the second Princess Switch film, a cameo all but confirmed it. During Margaret’s coronation, who should appear but Queen Amber and King Richard of Aldovia (via Decider)! We have to admit, it’s pretty weird, considering the fact that Margaret literally watched A Christmas Prince with Kevin in the first film – does that make it… a documentary in this universe? We’ll never know!
Netflix even acknowledged that all of their holiday movies are connected in a tweet about the “Netflix Holiday Movie Universe.” With a complex chart, the network showed how all of the films reference each other. We’d totally love to see a real crossover film!
Olivia was recast for The Princess Switch: Switched Again
You may not have realized it, but one of the main characters in The Princess Switch was actually recast for the The Princess Switch: Switched Again. Remember that adorable ballet dancing girl, Olivia, Kevin’s daughter? Well, it turns out, she was actually played by a different actress in The Princess Switch: Switched Again. In the first movie, Olivia was played by Alexa Adeosun, and in the second, Mia Lloyd took over the role (via Refinery29). This was definitely one “switch” that we didn’t expect!
It’s unclear why the producers decided to recast the character; it could be a scheduling conflict or a question of Lloyd being better suited to the role. Either way, some fans were a little disappointed, noting that they’d chosen a lighter skinned actress for the sequel (via the Independent). As one Twitter user wrote, “Why did @netflix recast Olivia in The Princess Switch 2? Upsetting and unnecessary.”
This was Vanessa Hudgens favorite scene to film in The Princess Switch: Switched Again
Actors often have a favorite scene to film for each project they work on. As for Vanessa Hudgens, she certainly had a lot of scenes to choose from in The Princess Switch: Switched Again, seeing as she played three main characters! As the actress revealed to PopSugar, it was easy for her to name her favorite: Margaret’s coronation scene. “We were in this beautiful chapel in Glasgow, and it had so much history,” the actress explained. “I remember standing in the center of this church and looking around and looking down at what I’m wearing and taking in this situation, and had that real-life fairy-tale moment.” We love to hear it!
It sounds like Hudgens really did feel like a princess, and it’s no wonder considering where she was and what she was wearing! “I was like, ‘This is better than a wedding.’ It was really special,” she added. We have to admit, it’s a beautiful scene to watch — we can only imagine how amazing it must have felt to be there!
Sam Palladio's favorite scene from The Princess Switch: Switched Again got cut
While Vanessa Hudgens’ favorite scene in The Princess Switch: Switched Again was a crucial moment in the movie, her co-star Sam Palladio’s favorite scene actually ended up being cut. As the actor explained to Brief Take, there’d been a scene in the script just after Margaret and Kevin’s flour fight, when Prince Edward came across Kevin in the hall. “Edward was like, ‘Oh, has there been some sort of explosion in the kitchen?'” Palladio recalled, laughing.
As Palladio further explained, his character was super confused by the situation. “They have this nice little scene,” he shared. “And then, you know, Kevin gives him a big old pat on the back and he gets covered in flour and sort of calls for Frank to dust him off.” It sounds like such a fun, silly scene — we definitely wish it had made the final cut, too!
The actors were often freezing filming The Princess Switch: Switched Again
While the Princess Switch movies are pretty much the ultimate, cozy holiday rom-coms, they weren’t exactly cozy to film in real life. As actor Sam Palladio revealed to Fangirlish, one scene in The Princess Switch: Switched Again was particularly tough to film.
Apparently, the super festive deck-the-halls scene, when the gang decorated Margaret’s palatial home, was actually filmed in an absolutely freezing building. “The location was actually the coldest place I’ve ever been because that whole mansion was made out of solid marble,” Palladio explained. “It was actually December… and it was absolutely freezing and you could not get that room warm.”
Palladio went on to explain that the cast were actually struggling to smile throughout the scene because it was so frigid. They even had to keep hand warmers in their pockets throughout the day! Yikes, that’s definitely not as cozy as it looked in the movie.
The composer took things up a notch with the epic score for The Princess Switch: Switched Again
One of the greatest things about the sequel to The Princess Switch is its sheer scale. The second time around, we have not two, but three Vanessa Hudgens roles. We also get epic ballroom scenes, stunning castles, incredible festive decor, and much more.
To match the epic scale of The Princess Switch: Switched Again, the producers were keen to create a bigger and better musical score. The film’s composer, Alan Lazar, spoke to Popaxium about the process of making it. “We upped a notch on the score,” he explained. “It’s a full orchestral score which we recorded in Budapest.” He also explained that Hudgens’ new character, the evil Fiona, got her own “specific scoring” that’s a real departure from the first film.
Overall, the score is impressive, totaling at about 65 minutes. What’s also amazing about the score is that Lazar actually wrote the entire thing in his home, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the entire thing was recorded remotely.
A third Princess Switch movie might be in the works — does this mean four Vanessa Hudgens roles?
If you loved The Princess Switch and The Princess Switch: Switched Again, you’re in luck, as Netflix officially announced a third film in 2020 (via The Wrap). While we don’t know many details yet about what to expect, it’s sure to be as goofy and ridiculous as the first two. One thing, however, has been made clear: Vanessa Hudgens will absolutely not be taking on a fourth character!
As Hudgens explained to Click the City, three characters is her maximum. “I’m shutting that rumor down really quickly because then I would really lose my mind,” she joked. Fair enough, as four characters, with four accents and personalities who all pretend to be each other does sound like a total nightmare.
Nevertheless, the next installment in the franchise is sure to be another wild ride, as Vanessa Hudgens teased even more switches in The Princess Switch 3. “I really loved playing Fiona so we’ll have quite a bit more of her for the next one,” she added. “And that’s all I’m gonna say!” All we have to say is that we cannot wait!
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