After speaking to Meghan, the filmmakers had the idea for the duchess, whose last day as a senior royal was March 31, to narrate the documentary. But first, she had to audition. Sort of. “We actually tried her voice against the picture, right then,” says Linfield. He did a quick Google search and then set her voice against some early footage. “She had done United Nations women’s speeches, and they just worked great.”
The film, which starts streaming April 3 on Disney+, follows a herd of pachyderms 1,000 miles back and forth across the Kalahari Desert as they search for water. The family, led by a matriarch named Gaia, start in Botswana, a country Meghan and Harry know well.
The couple traveled to the African country in 2017 to assist Dr. Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders, getting up close to the majestic animals while aiding in the conversation effort. (Markle donated her fee for the film to the charity.) They later shared photos from the journey, where they helped protect 25 elephants by fitting them with satellite navigation collars, on their now-dark Sussex Royal Instagram.
Meghan recorded her narration last October at London’s famed Pinewood Studios. Harry joined her in the studio, while Archie stayed home.
“She had a small child,” says Berlowitz. “You could totally tell she was identifying with [elephants] Shani and Jojo, and keeping little ones in tow. She felt like a normal mom going through the normal trials and tribulations of bringing up a baby. Like one of us.”
“It was amazing having [Harry] there,” says Berlowitz. “He had a connection to Botswana, of course.” The Duke of Sussex had his own Hollywood moment on set. He provided a little direction, from, as he put it “the cheap seats.”
“Harry was correcting her pronunciation!” Linfield adds with a laugh.
Meghan also did her own improvising, adds filmmaker Roy Conli.
“She made it her own,” says Conli. “I always say, ‘If you feel something, do it, make it organic.’ She’s such a diligent professional and she wanted to get it right. It was a delight all the way around.”
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