JULIA STILES PLAYS GEORGINA CLIOS
Q: How would you describe your character?
A: For the audience, Georgina is the window into this world of wealth and glamour. Unlike every other character in the story, she does not come from this luxury lifestyle. She’s very much worked her way up in the art world and does not have that sense of entitlement and privilege.
Q: How has she changed since the first series?
A: In season one, she was very much trying to be accepted into that world. But now she’s become more sceptical and, without even realising it, has been corrupted by this sunny place for shady people that she lives in.
Q: Tell us more.
A: The original idea for Riviera came from that famous quote about the setting – it’s a sunny place for shady people – meaning that you can have this glamorous setting, but there’s all this corruption going on underneath. There was also the idea that behind every great fortune is a great crime. So this wealth didn’t come out of nowhere. It was on the backs of other people and dirty deeds. As the centrepiece of the show, Georgina had to begin as someone who was an outsider in this world. But now that she’s been accepted, she’s been a bit corroded by her environment. So you have these glamorous, beautiful people who have lost touch with reality.
Q: What motivates her to stay in this malign world?
A: One of the biggest questions is why she doesn’t just leave since it’s a pretty difficult place to exist in, despite all the wealth and glamour. But Georgina has a backbone. She’s a fighter. She’s not going to back down from intimidation or difficult circumstances.
Q: The female characters are very much in the foreground of Riviera, aren’t they?
A: Yes. One of the things that is really surprising about this is that if you have a show called Riviera, which is set amongst the wealthy and the elite in the South of France, it could so easily be just about businessmen or gangsters and girls in bikinis. There is an element of that, but actually most of the central characters are women, and some of the strongest characters in the show are females. It starts with Lena Olin’s character Irina. She is just a formidable presence, and we do focus on that. Unexpectedly, Riviera is not about the male moguls in this world or the girls in bikinis frolicking around them. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. It’s the women who are driving this show.
Q: How do you go about playing Georgina?
A: Now in season two, I feel that a lot of what I do is instinctual and unconscious. I have absorbed so much of this character that performing her is less in my head and more in my heart. At this point I can act more from my gut than my mind. I also enjoy the fact that the writers write more specifically to my strengths now.
Q: Do you also enjoy the fact that the character is not always predictable?
A: Yes. One thing that is really fun about playing Georgina is that you can’t always predict what she’ll do. She is a fighter and is trying to keep her world together and not end up in jail, but she does make some weird decisions and things unravel despite her best intentions.
Q: Why is the French Riviera the ideal location for this drama?
A: One of the first things that drew me to the show was the fact that the settings are so beautiful. The South of France is an amazing place to work in, and for a TV show it offers endless beauty in a way that I don’t think you could replicate if you were filming anywhere else.
Q: Is there a contradiction between the beauty of the location and the ugliness of the characters?
A: Yes. You have a murder mystery crime drama set in that beauty, the sunny place for shady people. Oftentimes, when I’m filming, I step out of character and say to myself, “These people have everything in terms of wealth and anything that money can buy, but they lack so much. They lack a moral compass, they lack humility, and they lack love and affection and real concern for each other.” Which is an interesting contrast.
Q: Riviera capitalises on the breath-taking landscapes of the South of France, doesn’t it?
A: Yes. We do get our money’s worth in terms of production value here. We shoot on location a lot. That means travelling around the south of France a great deal. Every week you’re in an amazing villa with a beautiful scenic view. We really take advantage of the fact that we are actually shooting in France.
Q: The production is blessed with these locations, isn’t it?
A: Yes. We are incredibly lucky to be able to film in the south of France, and we make the most of that every day. We are at a beautiful villa or by the sea or driving on the winding roads outside Monaco, and it feels very special to have that reality and use that setting, which I don’t think you could fake if you were shooting anywhere else.
Q: Finally, season two of Riviera really ups the ante, doesn’t it?
A: Absolutely. We had a read-through in the middle of season two – episode four, five and six – and I walked away going, “Oh my God, this is our show, and it’s gone to a whole new level.” There is so much crazy that happens – incest, murder, lies, deceit – but it somehow works for the show because we are in a heightened reality. I feel like you just go along for the ride. If Shakespeare and the ancient Greeks had a love child, it would be the second season of Riviera!
DIMITRI LEONIDAS PLAYS CHRISTOS CLIOS
Q: What first appealed you about Riviera?
A: I read the first two episodes, and I absolutely loved it. I adored the idea of delving into this world of glamour. On the surface, it’s a very picturesque lifestyle with sickening amounts of money, but the series explores the dark underbelly of that. When I was offered the part, my immediate reaction was, “I’m in!”
Q: Tell us about your character.
A: When we first meet him, Christos is the son of a billionaire who lives like a prodigal prince. He’s a hedonistic, drug taking, womanising young rich kid. The scale of the family’s life is extraordinary. Their villa looks like it might have belonged to Caligula. They live in these massive towers detached from reality. They have an alien, creepy quality.
Q: How does Christos develop?
A: He gradually realises that this life might actually be a sham and that people don’t see him as he thought they did. He starts to see the phony side of himself. He begins to believe that maybe the thing he was aiming for was wrong. When his father falls, his son has to maintain his kingdom. With his father’s passing, there is real pressure on Christos. He is asked to carry the burden of his father’s legacy and is unable to fill those boots. His life has been so privileged that he hasn’t had a chance to prove himself and build himself into a grown man.
Q: Where do we find Christos at the beginning of the second series?
A: Season two begins with him physically bruised and emotionally damaged. He has inherited his father’s business, and he soon discovers that his dad was involved with some shady characters. Christos has not just inherited the business, but lots of unresolved troubles. He now feels physically and emotionally vulnerable. Added to that, he is having to face his addiction.
Q: How is Christos managing that?
A: We get the sense that he is going to meetings and he is learning lessons in them. They’re making him a better person. He has stepped back from his ego. He is trying not to lose sight of what he really cares about. Whenever someone goes through a trauma, they must rebuild themselves and strengthen their armour or it will destroy them. So Christos is tentatively trying to put his life in order. He is licking his wounds and saying, “Now I can try to put my life back together again.”
Q: There is a new family in town threatening the power of Christos’s clan, isn’t there?
A: Yes. The Elthams have come in – good luck to them! It’s a conflict between new and old money. Irina would call the Elthams “those ghastly individuals”, but that’s only because they’re so similar to her family. We are new money, and the Elthams are old-money English aristocrats. We see them as pathetic. We think we are the future. We have slick yachts and they have crumbling mansions. We are walking around in sharp-cut suits and they’re wearing baggy sweaters. It’s a great clash.
Q: What has it been like working in Villa Carmella?
A: It’s been incredible. Constantine’s family are like gods. They have so much power and wealth. They can do what they want, and that’s reflected in their home. It’s palatial with marble and Greek statues everywhere and brand-new top of the range utilities. And all the terracotta reminds me of The Godfather. When I first got there, it was overwhelming. I just went, “Wow!” Villa Carmella is a very big character in this drama. It’s a remarkable place that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.
Q: Have you enjoyed portraying this character?
A: Definitely. I’ve loved playing Christos. The directors said, “We are seeing this family through the eyes of Georgina. To her, they feel like vampires. We want you to go to town with Christos.” So I have done! It’s been such fun getting my teeth into this role!
Q: Have you had a good time on Riviera?
A: Absolutely. My friends are very jealous of me. Whenever I see them back home in London, I’m reminded how baffling it is that I’m here. They say, “I can’t believe you’re getting away with this!” Any job can be stressful from time to time, so it’s good to have a reminder that you’re on an amazing Sky show with a wonderful cast, incredible locations and beautiful weather. Make sure you enjoy it. It’s a nice dose of reality to go back to London where everyone squinting in the rain, wearing coats and enduring the misery of the Tube. You’ve got to love this job!
ROXANNE DURAN PLAYS ADRIANA CLIOS
Q: Why did the first series of Riviera chime with audiences?
A: It was so popular because of the contrast between the beautiful surroundings and people who aren’t that charming. The series is spicy, intense, and has really fun characters. It’s amazing how the show gets such crazy, enthusiastic reactions!
Q: Please outline your character for us.
A: Adriana draws huge strength from her relationship with Georgina, who has always been there for her and been a great role model. Adriana is slowly recovering from her traumas. When he was directing, Adrian Lester asked me, “What does it feel like not to know where you come from?” That’s the key question for Adriana. People relate to Adriana because we all identify with lives that aren’t easy.
Q: Her relationship with Sophie is really important, too, isn’t it?
A: Definitely. Her unconditional love for Sophie makes her stronger. Without that, she would be drowning. She’s keeping her head above water because of Sophie.
Q: How would you characterise Adriana’s relationship with her mother?
A: It’s conflicted and intense – that’s what happens in families. When you love someone beyond all sense, you’re so close. You have shared emotions and intertwined reactions because you know what they are experiencing. There is an osmosis between you. The conflict and the closeness with her mother are all part of their relationship. Irina is not a piece of cake to deal with, but the lovely thing is that Lena is the sweetest person you could ever meet in real life!
Q: How does Adriana get on with her brother?
A: Christos has taken a great step forward with his recovery. Now Adriana wants him to take care of the stud farm, which has had emotional importance for her since childhood. He is making an effort with that job, and it is making a difference to him. She is successfully diverting him with that because she knows what it’s like to feel lost.
Q: How have you found it working with horses?
A: I used to be quite scared of them. Horses are such huge beasts, and I used to think I wanted to be far away from them! But I’ve been working with a great trainer who made me feel more at ease with them. It’s great when you meet someone who makes you feel so comfortable. It became such a pleasure working with the horses. The trainer told me, “Don’t let them control you,” and that was really good advice.
Q: Do you have a favourite location this season?
A: The stud farm was an insane location. We were shooting in the inner courtyard where they present the horses. It has windows which are like the stained-glass windows of the church. The light flooded in through them, and it was so beautiful. It was such a breath-taking place.
Q: Is the glamour crucial to the show?
A: Absolutely. It’s a really important element of Riviera. These characters are almighty. They make their own rules. It’s so exciting to be around that. We spent a night in Monaco, which is something completely different from our common, mortal world. That definitely helped us with the characters. It helped us understand that they live their lives to excess.
Q: Have you enjoyed wearing these amazing outfits?
A: Definitely. That’s even more fun this season. The costumes are so exquisite. Every time I put on a new costume, I get so excited. It’s such a fun world to be in. Wherever she is in the world, Emma Fryer, the costume designer, keeps discovering new pieces. When I’m shopping in another city, I take pictures of lovely clothes to send to Emma. Whenever we are together and see glamorous clothes in the shops, we say to each other, “That is so Adriana!”
LENA OLIN PLAYS IRINA ATMAN
Q: At the start of season two, where is Irina at?
A: She has led a life where she has not been attending to her soul. She’s been at all the big parties and had lots of fun, but now that life is catching up with her. Through what happens to her and her kids, she comes closer to who she is. In a painful way, she is rediscovering her identity. Thanks to her grief, she is becoming stronger and more dangerous.
Q: Tell us more.
A: Irina is such a strong woman. She’s been using men her whole life. She has exploited her appeal to men. That’s how she has moved forward and become this social flower. That’s how she has operated. She’s never given it a second thought. But this season she has to face up to it because now there are consequences.
Q: What other changes can we expect in the second series?
A: We are digging deeper into the characters and challenging them more. Irina’s relationship with the two children she has left goes deeper. They fight a lot. They’re ready to kill each other, but they also love each other. It shows the complex relationship that parents have with their kids. That’s very relatable. It rings very true with people.
Q: Talk us through Irina’s relationship with Christos.
A: They have a super-tight relationship. The glue between them is very strong. They mirror each other. One minute they’re on top of the world, mocking and bullying everyone else. Then, the next minute they are at each other’s throat. I think a lot of people will recognise that relationship.
Q: How about her relationship with Adriana?
A: That is very similar. They have a real closeness. They have been through some very bad things together. They can snuggle up to each other, and then suddenly they are at war again.
Q: How does Irina get on with Georgina?
A: These are two strong women in very competitive situations. They are always fighting, but they also get each other. There is a weird form of trust and fascination between them. Their relationship is very cool, but it never becomes cute or cheesy.
Q: Tell us about Irina’s outfits.
A: The way Irina dresses is very Riviera. She’s a woman of her era and unafraid of being glamorous. People love that. My character was very glamorous last year, and we got really good feedback about that. But we are lifting the level of glamour this season. We have raised the bar. It’s been so much fun. We are so invested in the look of the show. Emma Fryer who is doing the costumes is wonderful. During the break between seasons, I got an email from her saying, “I was thinking of red shoes with that outfit.” Everyone is involved in this show, heart and soul.
Q: What is the atmosphere like on set?
A: We have a great sense of camaraderie. It’s terrific fun. In fact, we almost have too much fun! Sometimes the director gets a little worried when we are rowdy and laughing and giggling before a scene. Then when he calls “rolling”, everyone gets into character in a split second and we are all hundred percent on it. We have an amazing time on the show. I don’t need a social life on Riviera. I have so much fun at work!
Q: Do the South of France locations enhance this drama?
A: Definitely. These locations really add something to the production. People always say they go to the Riviera because it’s such a treat. The look and the location are a huge part of this show. That’s why it was very wise of the producers not to shoot in another country to save money. This landscape provides a wonderful backdrop of beauty.
Q: Can you amplify that?
A: It’s the light and the trees and the hills. They are so special. There is something in the air here. And of course, the food is wonderful. If you go to any store and buy cheese and fruit, it’s always unbelievable. And the food in any restaurant is incredible. My husband is a great wine lover. When he comes here, I say, “You have bought so much wine.” And he replies, “Don’t worry, we’ll finish it!”
Q: How does working on Riviera compare with the movies?
A: On a feature film, you may be working for 12 weeks. But a big TV production like this is much longer – it’s month after month. That gives you a long time to get under the skin of your character, and I really enjoy that. When I get “invaded” by a character, I enjoy it tremendously. As an artist, it’s very satisfying to really get your teeth into a project. What an opportunity this has been to go on a great journey with this character.
Q: What else do you relish about working in TV?
A: Television is very empowering. The directors are aware that we know our characters very well. If I think something in the script is not right, I can say to the director, “This doesn’t ring true,” and they’ll change it. This is only my third TV show ever, but I’m loving it.
Q: Do you ever take the darker side of this drama home with you?
A: Yes. If you’re playing Miss Julie, you know that will stay with you after work. Here I am in a glitzy, glamorous TV show, but all the things that are happening to Irina in this series do get to me. Reading episodes nine and 10 of season two has so strongly affected me.
Q: Why was the first series of Riviera so popular?
A: It was a treat for people. It was a marvellous combination of glamour and beauty. If people come home after a long hard day at work, they think, “Should I watch something very gruelling or Riviera?” They always go for Riviera! And if you’re looking for more glamour and excitement in the second series, you won’t be disappointed!
WILL ARNETT PLAYS UNCLE JEFF
Q: Jeff, who is Georgina’s uncle from the US, is a new character this year. What is his arc in this series?
A: When Jeff gets to the Riviera, he is really blown away by how beautiful it is and by how people live their lives there. He starts to meet the people in Georgina’s life, and he finds them all to be quite bigger than life and humorous to a certain degree. And then, as things start to take a darker turn, he becomes disenchanted with the whole place. Now he looks at it through a different filter.
Q: The drama ramps up in the second series of Riviera, doesn’t it?
A: Yes. In the first season, you’re always getting to know who the characters are and what their deal is. What’s great is that when you have the second season of the show, you can use the foundation that you built and take it to different places. This year there are some fantastic twists and turns that are very much in the vein of Riviera. It’s a fun ride for the audience, and that’s what you want with a show like this. You want to see as much intrigue as you can.
Q: Can you explain the importance in this drama of the world of art?
A: What’s great about this show is the art world. That’s a really good area to get into. It’s very unregulated and quite a few shady characters move in and out of it. Art is one place where money can still move and change hands in a very unregulated way. In France, for example, you can’t exchange cash for goods without being heavily monitored by the government, except when it comes to art. Of course, the valuation of art is ultimately subjective, and so it has historically always been a really great way for people to move and launder money. It really fits with the tone of this show and serves as a remarkably accurate backdrop for the kind of world that these people live in.
Q: Why is it vital that this drama is filmed on location in the South of France?
A: It’s important to shoot in the Riviera because it’s very, very difficult to substitute the South of France for something else. For hundreds of years, painters have come here, and there is no mystery as to why. The landscapes are beautiful, and there is something about the light. The light is just different here. You can almost feel it and smell it when you watch the show, that authenticity. You look at the landscapes, you look at the coastline, you look at all these things that are so unique to the South of France. You can’t duplicate this particular part of the South of France anywhere else.
Q: Tell us about the role of Georgina in Riviera.
A: Because Georgina is the outsider, she provides the introduction to this world for the viewer. Jeff enhances that because you get to see Georgina react to someone from her own life. That really highlights the contrast between an existence that is much more relatable to the audience and this world which is in reality unobtainable for a lot of people. Seeing that contrast, people can identify with a character like Georgina. What would happen if you were thrown into this world with these people who are extraordinarily wealthy and live these fabulous lives? You need a character like that who can set the table for the audience.
Q: Why has Riviera struck such a chord with audiences?
A: This show does such a great job of doing the thing that makes a lot of shows in this genre successful: it’s like a holiday, it’s escapism in an hour. You turn on this show and you can really get into it. You can look at these beautiful locations, beautiful clothes, beautiful people doing all these insane things, killing each other and making out with each other, buying Ferraris and going on yachts and planes. Who doesn’t want to watch that?
JULIET STEVENSON PLAYS CASSANDRA ELTHAM
Q: Tell us about your character.
A: Lady Cassandra Eltham comes from minor British aristocracy. She is property rich, but cash poor. She’s come with her two grown-up children, twins called Daphne and Nico, to this house on the Riviera which has belonged to her family for a long time, but has got run down. In order to cover the mounting costs of running her family estate, she has sold the pile in England and come down to the south of France to try and live there. She’s trying to do up the house and make it into a beautiful home. But little does she know when she arrives on the Riviera what she’s letting herself in for…
Q: Have you enjoyed working with the actors playing your children?
A: Absolutely. My son is played by Jack Fox and my daughter by Poppy Delevingne. I’m the happiest actress on this planet to have these two glorious young actors playing my kids. I take responsibility for them. I boss them around, and they boss me around and do exactly the same things that my own nearly grown-up children do. I’m not just saying this for the purposes of press for Riviera season two. They have been a complete joy.
Q: Did you hit it off immediately?
A: Yes. What is extraordinary is that right from the first day we had some weird familial link. We never had an “I don’t know you very well”, shy, semi-formal period. On the first day we met at the read through, we just clicked. I looked at those two and thought, “They are so like siblings. They even look the same. They’re the same height, practically.” We all three have the same sense of humour. So we’ve had the biggest hoot. We’ve had massive bonding, and I’m going to miss them terribly.
Q: Has your closeness off screen helped with playing the roles?
A: Yes. It doesn’t always happen, but when that glorious bit of serendipity in casting does happen, it’s fantastic. Of course, you don’t get much rehearsal time on a TV drama, but when that casting takes place, you don’t really need it because it hasn’t taken us very long to get that sense of really deep, complicated love, friendship. We understand the shortcuts that we can take talking to each other. That relationship off screen is brought on to the screen quite quickly and easily. I have been in things when that hasn’t happened at all with people playing my mum or my daughter or my son, and that’s really hard work. But I feel really blessed that I have had Jack and Poppy there.
Q: What does the Riviera backdrop add to the drama?
A: The glamour is incredible. I’m not that seduced by glamour in general. I think I’m a little bit suspicious of it. I love France and I know quite a lot of areas of France, but I didn’t know this one. I thought I might be a bit put off by the very wealthy at play all the time. That is of course true, but nothing prepared me for the beauty. We’ve been in Nice and Antibes and Grasse, going as far as Monaco to the east.
Q: Can you please expand on that?
A: There are the yachts and jet-skis and helicopters and all that stuff. But the beauty of the landscapes – that’s what we all love. You get these amazing sunrises and sunsets. You only have to travel a mile or so behind the coast and you get these incredibly beautiful, rugged landscapes. The Alps start very quickly. I went walking in the foothills for a couple of days. Mediterranean smells and sights and sounds – that’s what I’ve adored. You also get this incredible light.
Q: The production has taken full advantage of the stunning scenery, hasn’t it?
A: Yes. They have found the most amazing locations. When I was watching series one, I did think, “My God, the production values are incredible.” It has beautiful villas, beautiful gardens, incredibly framed by the cinematographers. I do think series one was very beautifully shot, and series two, if anything, even more so. It’s cinematic and ambitiously shot. Lots and lots of thought and lots and lots of resources have gone in to the look of it. It does look a million dollars.
Q: There is a dark underbelly to this beautiful-seeming world, though, isn’t there?
A: Yes. The strange paradox is that it is all being done in this very serene, groomed, exquisitely maintained, manicured environment. Underneath that, there is hell. There is violence, threats, disorder, corruption, murder. But everything on the surface is exquisite. That’s a very fascinating cocktail.
Q: Why would you recommend that people switch on season two of Riviera?
A: Season two is as exotic and as beautiful as season one. The production values are incredible. There is that exquisite, glamorous, picturesque framing and landscape, both inside and outside. You get the characters viewers have grown to love, but you also get quite a lot of new characters coming in to create new interest. There is no question that audiences will be as hooked as they were by series one.
Q: How does the story develop?
A: It becomes very interesting and more and more complicated. Some of the old story gets left behind, and new events and new thrilling narratives begin. It’s a more complicated human landscape because we have got two families now to dance all over this extraordinary piece of storytelling. If any people have dark secrets and skeletons in the cupboard, it’s certainly the Elthams. They are here, and they are up to no good. It’s double trouble!
POPPY DELEVINGNE PLAYS DAPHNE ELTHAM
Q: What attracted you to this show?
A: On a flight from London to LA, I watched episodes 1 to 10 of the first season of Riviera without pausing. I didn’t get a minute of sleep because I was so addicted to it. I had no kip, so I landed in LA a wreck and with my anxiety levels through the roof. But I was so hooked on the show. From that moment, there was no question that I’d do it.
Q: Can you explain what you adore about Riviera?
A: I love the intense, dramatic characters and the beautiful locations. I also love how the show is shot and lit. Everything is so sumptuous and glowing. Glamour is very important to the appeal of the show. The beautifully done hair and make-up and costumes capture the high glamour that people associate with Riviera. It’s very appealing to see that world of fast cars, champagne and yachts on screen. It’s all part of why people love Riviera so much.
Q: Talk us through your character.
A: There are all sorts of layers to Daphne or Daffers, as I like to call her! On the surface, she is very bright, vivacious, friendly and warm. But underneath that, there is a quiet strength and intelligence about her. In her more silent moments, people might mistake that for not wanting to interact. But in fact, she’s always listening and watching.
Q: What other characteristics does Daphne possess?
A: There is a fragility and vulnerability to her. She was very close to her father and has struggled with his loss. She was a real daddy’s girl in the same way that Nico is a real mummy’s boy. She is also fiercely loyal and protective.
Q: How would you describe Daphne’s relationship with Nico?
A: They are extraordinarily close – sometimes too close for comfort. They finish each other’s sentences. They depend on each other too much and that leads to problems. Daphne’s journey involves making decisions about her life and her twin is very much part of that. But Nico is not happy when she finds love. He is uncomfortable because it seems as if he’s losing his sister. He feels shut out.
Q: How does Daphne get on with her mother?
A: They are close in many ways, but in other ways, they’re not. Daphne is affected by Cassandra’s very close relationship with Nico. She feels like the less favoured child. That’s painful and causes tension with Daphne. She has never done a lot on her own. She’s never had a job – she spends her time decorating Cassandra’s house. Cassandra likes to keep her children close, but her relationship with Daphne is still very up and down.
Q: What other factors affect the relationship between mother and daughter?
A: It hurts Daphne that Cassandra has kept secrets from her. She finds that shocking. Because Daphne was a difficult teenager, Cassandra protects her as she thinks she’s weak. I don’t know how much Cassandra really understands her daughter. It’s a very old-money thing; everything seems OK on the surface, but inside there is a void of emotions.
Q: Have you enjoyed helping to create Daphne’s look?
A: Yes. These costumes very much felt like the character. Emma Fryer and I had so much fun “doing Daphne”. Emma wanted there to be a contrast between Daphne and Georgina. Daphne’s clothes are all patterns and florals. They are soft and have pastel colours. They are very similar to her personality – quite flowing. That very much helps with the acting.
Q: What do you hope that people take away from this series?
A: I hope they are as electrified as I was watching season one and are hungry for more. It’s nice that a new family has come into the series. The contrast is so brilliant. The idea of two families at war is fascinating. There is real conflict between these families who are so close. The claws are out on both sides. Nothing will get in their way.
Q: Has your time on Riviera lived up to expectations?
A: Absolutely. This job is full of “pinch me” moments. It doesn’t get much better than this!
JACK FOX PLAYS NICO ELTHAM
Q: What was your reaction when you were cast as Nico in the new series of Riviera?
A: I was very excited. I like to binge-watch, and I remember binge-watching the first series of Riviera with my ex-girlfriend. I thought, “I really want to be in that.” The stellar cast, the wonderful characters and the amazing locations are all a huge draw. It’s just a joy to be joining this great cast.
Q: Please outline your character for us.
A: Nico feels abandoned. He has a constant nagging voice in his head telling him it could all go in an instant. That dates back to his childhood. When you’re a 13-year-old boy and you’re dropped off at boarding school, as I was, the onus is on you to remain strong. Boys are supposed to hold it all together and to deal with separation. But because Nico has a twin sister, Daphne, he realises that when he is away, all the attention will be on her. He is already feeling it at sea, so that just makes things worse.
Q: So boarding school is quite harmful for Nico?
A: Yes. British public school is a very strange place. The teachers are in loco parentis. But why would you need someone to be in the place of your parents when you already have parents? Some people survive in that environment very well and some people don’t. Nico could have done with more time with his parents. For him, boarding school is damaging.
Q: Does it make Nico a bit of a lost soul?
A: Yes. That’s why he’s drawn to Adriana – she is positive and unwavering. But now his sister has a new husband, Nico doesn’t have anyone to discipline him or guide him. He’s experiencing separation anxiety from Daphne. When you find yourself lost, you get in with the wrong group of friends and start indulging yourself. There is no one to tell you not to because they’re dealing with their own lives, and you’re no longer the centre of their attention. Nico is lost at sea and unable to see any land from the water.
Q: How would you articulate his relationship with Daphne?
A: It’s complicated. Twins have a real chemistry with each other. They have shared a space for nine months. I had relationships with housemates and I thought they were intense – try that in a womb! People might perceive Daphne as fragile, but she has learned how to survive in a way that Nico hasn’t. If she fell down the stairs drunk, she would not injure herself in the slightest. But if he fell down stairs drunk, he would put his hands out and break everything.
Q: Can you expand on that?
A: She goes with the flow, he rejects it. Everything in life will be out of control at some point – the question is whether or not you can adapt to that. Daphne has learned that, but Nico is still trying to learn it. Women are the much smarter gender, and that becomes fairly apparent in this season.
Q: Talk us through his relationship with his mother.
A: Cassandra loves Nico very much, but it’s a complex dynamic. When you lose your husband, the male figure in your life, you often substitute your son for him as a coping mechanism. Cassandra sees Nico as a pillar, and that’s dangerous. She put responsibilities onto him that he shouldn’t have to deal with. It’s confusing to him. She lets him into anxieties and worries in a way that is not necessarily productive for a young man. It’s difficult to negotiate those waters. In Riviera, it causes a lot of angst between mother and son.
Q: Why is that?
A: My friends talk about people who are an “ask-hole”. That is someone who asks for a lot of advice and then doesn’t take it. That grates. That person is saying, “I’ve rejected your advice out of hand.” Cassandra does that, and so Nico becomes frustrated with her. It’s difficult when people you respect show weakness. Nico begins to see that his mother is not as strong as he thought she was.
Q: Why do you think Riviera has been so successful?
A Because a TV show like this gives audiences the chance to really get to know the characters. By contrast, film is just a snapshot. Lawrence Arabia looks beautiful, but no one has the time to get to know Peter O’Toole’s character. Over 10 episodes, however, you can let the audience into the inner workings of a character. You get to see the many, many faces of someone over the course of the TV series. Riviera looks amazing, the sets are terrific and the helicopters are wonderful. But above all the characters are absolutely brilliant!
SERIES PRODUCER SUE HOWELLS
Q: What was your reaction to the news that Riviera had been recommissioned?
A: I was really thrilled when I heard that it was going to go again. Like a lot of other people, I binge-watched the first season and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love the fact that it has a strong central female character in Georgina. She drives the drama and takes us through it. The other part I really enjoyed is that it’s an insight into Riviera society. It takes you on a cinematic journey into a world most people at home can only dream of. You’re seeing the super yachts, the helicopters, the fast cars and the most fantastic, luxurious locations.
Q: What can we expect from the second series?
A: Season one saw Georgina going from light to darkness with the killing of Adam. We pick up exactly where we left off in season one and see Georgina go from darkness into light. She is obviously culpable for what she’s done and has to face the consequences of her actions. We take her on a journey discovering new characters who have come into Riviera and all their dark secrets which are coming out and have repercussions for Georgina as well.
Q: Does the drama only increase in season two?
A: Yes. In season one, we got to meet the Clios family and all their problems and all the different things they brought to the world of Riviera. In season two, what we’re trying to do is give it more emotional heft. So you understand much more about Georgina, her past, where she’s come from and where her journey’s going. We delve much more into the dark secrets of the Clios family and the new family, the Eltham’s, that we’re introducing as well.
Q: What lies in store for the audience in the second series?
A: Across season two, they are going to go on a cinematic journey. We are going to take them to even more lavish locations, even more spectacular, stunning coastal and inland places. We are going to take them on super yachts and fast cars and helicopters. We have got exquisite costumes and jewellery. We are going to lavish on them everything that Riviera society has to offer!
Q: Tell us about the new family in Riviera.
A: The Eltham’s represent old money. It’s going to be very much a balance between the new and the old. The Eltham family bring an insight into the aristocracy. They have been coming here for 30 years – now they’re opening up the old summer house they used to visit every year. As they open it up, all the dark secrets that come out have an impact on the Clios family. The two families interweave, so there are a lot of exciting stories to be had.
Q: What is the dynamic between the two families?
A: At the very beginning, the Eltham’s rescue Georgina. As we saw the end of series one, she ends up in the water, but the Eltham’s save her and take her on to their luxury yacht. At first it all seems to be going incredibly well with the new family, and they become friends. But as things go on, the darkness comes out and seeps through.
Q: Talk us through the new cast members.
A: We’ve got a real treat for the audience. Cassandra is being played by Juliet Stevenson, and her twins, Nico and Daphne, by Jack Fox and Poppy Delevingne. What they bring to Riviera is a real touch of class, old money and style. Also, where they live is the most incredible mansion by the coast.
Q: The show is rightly famous for its astonishing locations, isn’t it?
A: Yes. When we arrived in January for a pre-recce, I have to say I fell in love with the Riviera. We went to some exquisite locations. When we started filming, sometimes we would sit outside and say we could not believe we were so privileged to be working in such a beautiful place. The locations really are stunning. Obviously, we are blessed by the weather as well. It’s a rich tapestry because the South of France is absolutely beautiful. We do a lot of filming on the coast in luxurious locations that the audience wouldn’t be able to go inside otherwise.
Q: Have you enjoyed working on the scripts?
A: Yes. When you first get the scripts, they are absolute page turners because you want to know what’s happening with the characters and where the journey is taking them. Once you’ve read the scripts and absorbed them, what I really love doing is talking them through with the director and understanding their vision, where they are going to take these characters and how they can enhance the scripts.
Q: Have you had fun producing series two of Riviera?
A: Definitely. It’s an absolutely massive, high-end show. It has lots of challenges – which is why we do the job. Riviera has a fantastic cast and French crew. It’s an absolute joy to be working on it!
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER KRIS THYKIER
Q: Why was the first series of Riviera such a hit?
A: Because it was such fun. We started at the height of Scandi Noir. There was a homogeneity about drama at the time. It was all child rape, knitted sweaters and darkness. Riviera was an opportunity to do something glamorous, exciting and fun, but also complex and characterful. We needed to hold our own. We had to compete with Sky Atlantic, which has the best shows in the world. Sky have been fabulous to work with and so supportive. They have consistently taken risks with their dramas. They took a risk on this and it really paid off. It’s been the most successful original production on Sky. There is nothing else like it on our screens. It’s the most glamorous show on TV. It’s a real ride.
Q: How will the second series differ from the first?
A: Everyone on the production team was very excited by the success of the first series, but we were all completely determined to make the second series even bigger and bolder. People said the sizzle reel looks like a Bond movie! This year we are going even further with the scale, the locations and the breadth of the characters. All those elements will give the second series more depth and complexity.
Q: Can you articulate what Julia Stiles brings to the project?
A: We were very fortunate with the casting of Julia. It’s a show about rich people doing terrible things. There might have been a danger that the audience wouldn’t find someone to root for. Despite the fact that she plays a complicated, tough character who is not afraid to do sometimes shocking things in order to find the truth, Julia carries the audience with her.
Q: Can you amplify that?
A: Julia has a natural integrity. That works really well in the context of the show. For those of us who grew up watching her in 10 Things I Hate About You, it’s great to see Julia back owning this show. She brings that history with her and is really well loved. She is the audience’s totem in Riviera. She is brilliant in it. I can’t imagine anyone else in that role.
Q: Will audiences stay with Georgina now that they know she’s a murderer?
A: That’s the challenge. She is not necessarily apologetic about what she did. In her moral universe, that murder made sense. In fact, the cover-up is more complicated than the crime. But the drama poses huge questions. Can one get away with murder? And what does it do to you? Ultimately, that’s the theme of the second series.
Q: What else can we expect from the second season?
A: Riviera is still fundamentally about family. This year we have introduced a new family, the Eltham’s. We wanted to expand the group of characters and play with the dynamics. We wanted to see the interaction between these two families and the secrets they’re concealing. The show is at its best when every character is revealed to be not necessarily who you thought they were. This season plays on the notion of people hiding in plain sight and explores the secrets and lies we tell to survive.
Q: Why does the art world work so well as a setting for Riviera?
A: The initial premise of the drama was the idea that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. Art is the last unregulated market. For centuries people have coveted great art. It has attracted some of the most talented and some of the worst people in the world. The south of France is the most glamorous place on earth. But it is a sunny place full of shady people. It fascinates me because it’s like the Wild West. Great fortunes can be made and concealed in the world of art. It contains a nice symbolism: beautiful things are covering up great crimes and corruption.
Q: Looking back, what has pleased you most about the success of Riviera?
A: I come from a film background, and film is a commercial art form. Commerciality is not something negative. To have made a show that is this successful and that people love so much was the ultimate goal, and we achieved that. You can make an Estonian black-and-white shadow puppet film that super-serves the industry. Or you can make something that the audience completely loves like Riviera. People are really attracted to the glamour of the show.
Q: The fans totally adore Riviera, don’t they?
A: Absolutely. One of the pieces of research we did after the first series found that people were saving up episodes of the show and organising Riviera parties where they all drank rosé. That’s a true mark of success and the ultimate tribute to the show. I think I’m going to start holding those parties myself!
Q: What do you hope viewers will take away from the second season of Riviera?
A: A huge and insatiable need for a third series!
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PAUL MCGUINNESS
Q: Why has Riviera proved so popular?
A: In the very best way, it’s voyeuristic. People get a vicarious pleasure out of watching very rich people in yachts and Ferraris behaving badly and getting into trouble. We have English, French, American and Russian characters and lots of stories that bring them into conflict in a very entertaining way.
Q: What other elements have audiences loved?
A: There is murder, adultery, art, fraud, money laundering and good clothes. So many stories spring out of the lives of the very rich. Behind every great fortune lies a great crime. And of course, then there is the south of France. It’s where people have been coming to spend time and money for many, many years. It has 300 days of sunshine a year, and it’s spectacularly beautiful. When you point the camera in any direction around there, it looks stunningly good. Everybody has an appetite for the South of France.
Q: Do you have a personal connection with the area?
A: Yes. I’ve been coming here for many years for pleasure. I used to manage U2, and all four members of the band and I have bought houses here within a couple of miles of each other. I still see a lot of them. We chose this area partly because of the sunshine, but also because Nice has the only 24-hour airport in Europe. So we were able to get back here in the early hours of the morning after any concert in Europe and sleep in our own beds.
Q: Is the Riviera a good area for filming?
A: Definitely. It’s very suitable for filming. There are really good facilities here. We use the film studios in Nice where such big movies as To Catch a Thief and Day For Night were made. The local authorities have been incredibly helpful to us. When you’re shooting on location, you need the help of the police and people who will turn the streetlights on and off for you. The support has been excellent.
Q: Tell us how things develop in season two.
A: We wanted to increase the number of characters and have more opportunities to create great stories and to cause conflict. We’ve got an amazing new cast playing the Eltham family. Juliet Stevenson is very cool. People who know her from Truly, Madly, Deeply are aware that she’s very English, very capable, very tough and very glamorous. Poppy Delevingne brings a different kind of glamour. She’s a celebrity in her own right and a truly delightful person. Jack Fox is a member of the Fox acting dynasty, and so he comes with really good credentials. He really nails this pretty complicated character.
Q: How does the battle between the Clios and the Elthams unfold?
It’s a clash between old money and new money. The Eltham’s are very much old money –except that they don’t have that much of it anymore! The Clios are much more arriviste. Theyhave their own bank, but Constantine was a decidedly controversial character and questionmarks still surround how he made his money…
Q: Have you enjoyed working with Sky?
A: Definitely. The UK is the leading centre for high-end TV production in the world and Sky is very much part of that. We are very happy that our show is on Sky. There is nothing gratuitous in Riviera, but we have more opportunity to pursue adult themes. If there are violent scenes required, then we can do them. Similarly, there’s a certain amount of sex in the showWe don’t have to be squeamish about that.
Q: What does Julia Stiles bring to the drama?
A: I like her a lot. She’s great fun. But she also brings a steely intelligence and professionalism. You can see in her eyes that she’s very bright. On a show like this, actors like Julia are very aware of the through line. They become almost as important as writers as they guide the show – “Oh, I don’t think my character would do that.” Actors of Julia’s calibre are taken very seriously in terms of character development.
Q: In these troubled times, does Riviera provides welcome escapism?
A: Absolutely. People love to imagine what it’s like to be very rich and live in a very big house, and we very happy to assist them with their fantasy!