Ahead of tonight's big premiere of Versailles on BBC2, we got the opportunity to put some questions to one of the stars of the show, Sarah Winter.

Sarah Winter as Louise in Versailles / Credit: BBC

Sarah Winter as Louise in Versailles / Credit: BBC

Chatting about her love for period dramas, how Versailles stands out from the crowd and more, Winter had lots to share about the series and her other projects. Read on to find out what she had to say...

What can you tell us about your new series Versailles?

Versailles is like a big edgy house party, where you could nosy into any room and be intrigued by what you might find. It's a period drama but it has a fresh, sexy, contemporary feel.

We meet Louis XIV when he is trying to figure out what sort of ruler he is going to be. He is ferociously determined to make Versailles the centre of everything and himself the sun around which everybody orbits. The show is filled with characters you may not quite believe existed and things you might not expect from a period show.

And the character you'll be playing?

I play Louise de la Valliere - the King's 'Official Mistress'. It's an odd title and an odd position - she is basically having a very public affair with the most powerful man in France. Every social situation is uncomfortable for her as she feels constantly judged, though no one judges her more harshly than herself.

Most of the court women in her shoes would use her position for power or status, but Louise hates it. She loves Louis the man not the King and he knows it. She is also a bit of a misfit in court... A good-natured, pious outsider in a glamorous, heated world of manipulation and sexual politics.

What was it about Versailles that drew you to the series?

I was attracted initially because I love period shows. They feel close enough to seem familiar and comforting, but distant enough to feel almost like fantasy - I was addicted to Downton Abbey! But I also loved that this felt a bit different, more dangerous and surprising.

The chance to work on something set in Versailles was also incredibly thrilling - it's a truly spectacular place, and I was intrigued by so many of the characters... I needed to be cast as I was impatient to know what happened next in the script!

How did the casting process work for Versailles?

The casting process for me was a bit unusual in that I never auditioned to play Louise. I was brought in to read for Henriette but they must have seen Louise in what I did in the audition.

My second audition came about as I happened to be in Paris with a friend on the same few days they were doing a screen test for another character. They heard I was in Paris and asked me to come in and read in opposite the other actor - again as Henriette not Louise! It wasn't until my first day on set that I actually tried out my Louise in front of anyone, which was pretty terrifying.

Can you tell us a little bit about a typical day on the set of Versailles?

A typical day for me would start with rocking up around 6am needing coffee and playing upbeat music - a bit of Billy Joel or Beyoncé - in the makeup and hair trailer to wake me up. I would spend about two hours there, then another half an hour in the costume trailer getting into my corset and dress. I would always be allowed input into the finishing touches on my hair or costume, which really helped develop Louise as a living person.

After shooting for a few hours, lunch was always a big affair. The catering on the show was phenomenal - a three course meal with plenty of cheese. I always felt bad for the really enthusiastic chef if I couldn't get to go through all the courses, but corsets don't lend themselves to dessert.

When we finished depended on the day. For nightshoots the whole day was upside down - we would arrive around 5pm and go until about 5am with 'lunch' around midnight.

How was the chemistry on the set of the show?

Some of us had actually gotten to know each other pretty well before the filming started as the pre-production period was quite long. Anna Brewster who plays Montespan and I had travelled a lot on the Eurostar together for costume fittings so it was great to arrive on set on the first day feeling as though you were among friends. The cast were really young and supportive of each other and we have hung out a fair bit outside of filming. We had some really great nights out in Paris!

You're also in the Amazon pilot for Casanova - what drew you to this show?

I was immediately drawn to Casanova because of the director attached, Jean Pierre-Jeunet - who directed Amelie. Amelie is one of my favourite films and so the opportunity to work with him was something I didn't want to miss. Also, it was a different look at the man we know as Casanova, which I thought was interesting, presenting him at a time when he was trying to reform his former womanising ways. I also met the lovely writer and showrunner, Stuart Zicherman, in the first audition and I thought his ideas were fantastic.

What advice do you have for young aspiring actors hoping to make it in the business?

Do as much youth theatre as you can. Lots of professional theatres offer fantastic opportunities for young actors all over the country. In London you've got The Almeida, The Rose Theatre in Kingston and there's also National Youth Theatre which provides so many young actors with an amazing start to their careers. Also, write to people. You probably won't get replies very often but that one time they do reply might lead to a lovely job.

Finally, what's next for you?

I've just finished trying my hand at some TV comedy - that will come out later this year, so it would to do some more of that and I would so love to do something set in the 1940s or 50s as that period fascinates me. I've got my fingers crossed for one specific project that I'm up for, but I can't say anymore than that. It's been an exciting year so far.

Versailles will air on BBC2 on June 1 at 9.30pm.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
find me on and follow me on