Sofia Carson & Nicholas Galitzine On Purple Hearts, Its Soundtrack, And More - Exclusive Interview

There's nothing more thrilling and heart-wrenching than an emotionally charged romance. While the thriller and action-packed movie fans may disagree with us, there's something specific about period dramas like "Pride and Prejudice," the devastating love story of Noah and Allie in "The Notebook," or the soul-crushing ending of "A Star Is Born" that cannot be matched. You can get ready to add another tear-jerking romance to the list — that of Sofia Carson's Cassie and Nicholas Galitzine's Luke in Netflix's "Purple Hearts." 


Slated to drop on the award-winning streaming platform on July 29, "Purple Hearts" follows the story of Cassie, a determined singer-songwriter, and Luke, a marine who's battling a number of different wars. Tying the knot for solely transactional reasons, as Cassie's ongoing health issues and Luke's military health insurance are a destined combination, the unexpected pair embark on a journey together that is just like watching life unfold on-screen — it's messy, unpredictable, and intertwined in the most profound ways.

Ahead of the film's premiere, we sat down with Carson and Galitzine for an exclusive interview, and the stars chatted about the film's early production days, female-led team, and the ongoing political issues that found their way to the screen. Additionally, Carson dished about writing the film's original soundtrack and how "Purple Hearts" has been a multi-leveled project five years in the making.


How did Sofia and Nicholas initially get involved in Purple Hearts?

Going all the way back to the early days of production, what were your initial reactions to the script?

Sofia Carson: Five years ago, I was working with [director] Liz Allen on "Pretty Little Liars." She handed me a script around Christmas and said, "Merry Christmas." It was "Purple Hearts," or a rough draft of it. I read it, and I immediately fell in love with it and with her story, not only because it was directed by a female, led by a female — it was a beautiful love story, but it was a love story with really important sociopolitical messages. The heart of it, which is what captured my heart at first read, is that it's truly a story about ... It captures the zeitgeist of our generation so beautifully.


We're in a divided world, a divided country, where all we see is color, red and blue or black and white. The story is about two hearts that come together through the power of love — two hearts that were taught to hate each other. If love can heal these two broken hearts, love is what the world needs now more than ever. I jumped on board as Liz's partner [and] producer, [and] as Cassie, and to write the soundtrack as well. It's been the most thrilling five years. It's surreal that I can finally talk about it and that it will belong to the world soon.

Nicholas Galitzine: I remember getting it [and reading it] through, and it was something that I immediately wanted to do. The love story at the center was apparent, but I felt there was actually a movie that could be made that would be a much more unique, original take on the love story genre. These people felt very real to me; they felt very nuanced. 


As Sofia said, it's been a very fascinating time in the U.S. Maybe "fascinating" is the wrong word — tumultuous, in a lot of ways. It was an opportunity to explore that as well, which I found very fascinating. The military world is one that is extremely alien to me in a lot of ways, especially the U.S. military. What is it that makes these people want to do what they do? Can we present them as being more human than the way that a lot of us do perceive them at times? That was important for me. 

Then, I loved who was on board — Liz Allen, our director ... After communicating and talking about the project, I was very convinced that we could work together and make something great. Then, [with] Sofia being on board and feeling very positive about our chemistry reads and everything like that, I very much wanted to do it from the beginning.

The actors discuss the film's portrayal of an honest love story

You have a female director all while telling this love story, but with the military element to it, which is such a masculine-dominated conversation. I'd love to know how that challenged you both as actors and as people, on- and off-camera.


Nicholas: Look, [director] Liz [Allen] ... The fact that she's a woman is immaterial to the fact that she wanted to pursue a story that was honest and was real. It very much helped, the fact that she was a woman. I love working with female directors. I think I've actually worked more with female directors than male directors. 

Sofia: I have too.

Nicholas: The dynamic she created was never oppressive or, "This is the way we're doing it." It was super collaborative. She and I and Sofia all had this curiosity to explore, particularly the world of the military and what that's like for a young man and the young woman who's in love with this young man.

Sofia: Nick said it perfectly. He summed it up exactly when he said it was immaterial whether she was a woman or not. All that Liz wanted to pursue was honesty and truth in every aspect of our story. From the military to diabetes to healthcare to immigration to the love story, we were striving for vulnerability and honesty and for our story and these characters to feel as real as possible.


Sofia dishes about the original soundtrack she wrote for the film

Sofia, you performed and co-wrote the original soundtrack. Where did you source inspiration from, and how did you throw yourself into the project from the music perspective?

Sofia: It was incredibly exciting and terrifying at the same time, because I've been writing songs since I was 11 years old, but I had never written a soundtrack before or written songs that had to serve a particular purpose for a story. It's a very different experience than writing whatever you're feeling in that moment. I had to write songs through Cassie's perspective, not my own.


I realized that it ended up being a really similar process, because in order to write these songs honestly and truthfully, I had to dive into Cassie's heart like I would in my own. I had the privilege that I had lived with this character, with this young woman, for four years before I had to bring her story to life through song. It was a beautiful experience with [songwriter Justin Tranter]. He trusted me so much to find Cassie's voice, and we did it. It was magical.

It was instrumental to me that she felt different from Sofia and true and unique to her own voice and that the story — Cassie's story and Cassie and Luke's story — was woven into the lyrics of our songs. I had my notes pages on my phone filled with lyrics for weeks before we started writing. The title "Hate the Way" and a couple of those lyrics I had been thinking of because of so many instances with Cassie and Luke that were so real. I love being able to do that. Bringing the soundtrack to life was one of my favorite experiences I've ever had, and I can't wait for people to hear it.


Sofia and Nicholas reveal what it was like working with Netflix

What was it like working with Netflix? The production experience and the caliber of the original content is soaring through the roof.

Nicholas: I've been very impressed by the approach Netflix has been taking. It seems much more geared to trying to make movies that also can compete on the awards scale. We were very lucky that we were extremely supported throughout the whole process. Oftentimes, you work with someone, and the interest might begin after you've shot the entire movie, and they realize where they've got something good. But I feel like we were always very much supported. We're so grateful for it because having the resources to make something that was compelling — we'd shoot long days sometimes [and] really work hard to make something that was compelling — you can't do that if you're not supported in the right way.


Definitely. Sofia, anything to add before we wrap up?

Sofia: It's a privilege and an honor. This is my second film with Netflix, and I still have to pinch myself. I'm actually at the headquarters right now. It was exciting because I had to be a part of pitching the movie. When Netflix bought the movie after our pitch and believed in it so wholeheartedly, it was really exciting. They've been tremendous partners every step of the way. They've believed in Cassie and Luke from the very beginning. It's an honor to work with them to bring this film to the world.

"Purple Hearts" releases globally on Netflix on July 29.

This interview was edited for clarity.