Big-budget new television drama is hard to come by right now, so Sky Atlantic are certain to get a huge audience for the return of their smash hit show Riviera.
Female First caught up with Julia Stiles as she spoke about a change of direction for one of Sky's most successful original productions, with the dark and glamorous world her character Georgina exists taking her to new locations and into a new relationship.
Tell us a little bit about Georgina as a character?
Georgina is a woman who constantly surprises us and surprises me. I think she’s come a long way, she’s faced a lot of tragedy, but she also has a really strong backbone and refuses to back down.
Where is Georgina emotionally and physically at the beginning of Series 3?
The beginning of season three is really exciting, because it’s a new beginning for Georgina - at least she would like it to be. She’s shed the Clios family, she’s shed the estate, she’s changed her name back to her maiden name, Ryland. Time has passed and she’s now teaching art restitution and trying to start a new life, free from all the trappings of her past. That gets subverted pretty quickly, but Georgina’s ready to keep fighting.
Art restitution is a very interesting career path for Georgina. Is this her way of righting wrongs?
It’s such a tricky, interesting question. How do you reconcile a character who destroyed a bunch of artwork when we last saw her at the end of season two, and is now so hell-bent on restoring order and making sure that artwork isn’t damaged or in the wrong hands? For me, even though that sounds paradoxical, I think for Georgina it’s largely rooted in guilt over things that she’s done in her past, but also wanting to have a clear moral code.
Where do we first see Georgina in episode one?
We first see Georgina lecturing and she’s very passionate about what art restitution means. After the students leave, Gabriel Hirsch shows up and introduces himself. He has come in with his own notoriety, fame and reputation. He gives her a job offer but she’s reluctant because she wants to be under the radar now. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the beginning of our show. They end up going to Venice together to get back a Picasso, and then drama ensues.
Can you elaborate on the world of Riviera and the darker themes at play?
Yes, that was exactly what drew me to the show in the first place, way back in season one. It’s a sunny place for shady people and the original genesis of the show, I think was this idea that behind every great fortune is a great crime. You have this beautiful, cinematic, gorgeous setting, yet underneath it all people amass their wealth. The thick grapevine of this society is sinister and questionable and complicated, and I think those are nice contrasts. In season three, we’ve just expanded it and made it more international. You have this beautiful, cinematic, gorgeous setting, yet underneath it all how people amass their wealth is pretty questionable.
What was it like filming in new locations Venice and Argentina, as well as the South of France?
I really love where we get to film and it’s only got better and better as we’ve gone from Nice, Cannes and Monaco to St Tropez, Venice and Argentina. It’s extraordinary. These are places people dream about travelling to and often just go to as tourists and here we get to immerse ourselves in these locations and then feel like you become part of the framework. It’s an extraordinary experience and it makes for a really beautiful setting for a TV show.
Can you touch on the costume element of Riviera?
Fashion is a very important part of the show. Particularly in the Riviera, the way that people display their wealth is either through fashion or luxury homes, yachts, helicopters, all these things that are unimaginable to most people, but they’re part of the escapism of the show. So in terms of our clothes, one thing that I really like about Georgina as a character, is her costume is not just about showing off certain brands, its showing that she has an eye for design and things that are really well-made and will last a long time. We tried hard this season to have pieces reused and pairing different things together, so you can really show them off in different contexts.
What is your favourite scene?
I love the very first scene in this season, where Georgina’s talking to a therapist as it helps us understand her and get inside her psyche. It becomes really trippy and you realise that it’s actually a fantasy sequence in her own head and it’s kind of deliciously naughty. Yes we have all this wealth and luxury and amazing settings in our show, but you do need a spine to that. You need to have these sorts of operatic moments where you understand where this unpredictable and surprising woman is. I like her private moments, because there’s so much of Georgina’s public face that it’s interesting to see who she is when nobody’s watching. I also love the whole sequence in Venice. I thought that was such an amazing city, so beautiful, so cinematic, it was really wonderful to film there.
How do you feel viewers will react to the new series and why should they watch it?
It’s a show that gives you a window into a world of luxury and wealth that I think is unattainable for most people, but I think the idea that ‘behind every fortune is a great crime’ keeps this drama intelligent. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with the escapism the series provides, but the conspiracy Georgina uncovers keeps the show sophisticated. I hope we’ve provided that.
All episodes of season three of Riviera are available to watch now on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.
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