'Riviera could easily be just about big boats and girls in bikinis, but it is much more than that for the female characters' - Julia Stiles
Julia Stiles was living a glorious double life as she took centre stage for the second season of Sky Atlantic’s smash hit drama Riviera in Nice last summer.
By day, she was reprising her role as the glamorous, dashing Georgina Clios in a show that gave Sky record ratings when it first aired in the summer of 2017, yet she was happy to step away from the millionaire fantasy world when she returned to her temporary home every night.
A few months before filming began, Julia and her Canadian husband Preston J. Cook welcomed their first son into the world, with little Strummer ensuring mummy was duly occupied during her secondment on the Cote d’Azur.
“It was amazing to be down in Nice with our wonderful little baby and he was a great diversion when I went home at night,” Stiles told Independent.ie.
“In the past, I would think about my work after filming. Did I say that line right....how did I look on screen? That’s what we normally worry about, but all that changes when you have a little guy at home waiting to see you.
“It meant I had something else to worry about and it was a delight to I get back to my family every night and see his little face, even though it meant I was tired a lot of the time.
“Having a baby is an incredible experience and allows you to put a lot of perspective on everything that used to seem important in this world.”
Just ten months after giving birth, the engaging Stiles looked radiant as she sat down for a chat during a set visit to Chateau Diter, a stunning property situated between Nice and Cannes that boasts two on-site helipads.
The Hollywood A-lister, who shot to prominence in 10 Things I Hate About You alongside Heath Ledger back in 1999, turns in a commanding performance as the under-siege Georgia as the Riviera plot takes some dramatic twists. A new family joins the brash storyline that proved to be such a hit when the show first aired in 2017.
The next chapter of a show that delves into the mysterious and notoriously unregulated world of art dealing among the mega-rich makes for intoxicating viewing, with Riviera executive producer Paul McGuinness excited by the feast he has helped to serve up since he stepped down from his role as long-time of rock super-group U2.
“We have so many exciting new additions to the cast and, having overseen the scripts, I’m convinced season two will be even more spectacular than the first,” said McGuinness.
“My initial vision for Riviera was that we would produce a drama that no-one had ever seen before. Glamour, sex, crime, huge wealth and everything you dream about is here in Nice and Monaco and we have used that landscape to take a key role in our show.
“We have certainly had no problem attracting actors to be part of this show. Imagine getting an offer to spend a few months in the south of France being looked after while you film a glamorous show like this? Not many actors would turn down that offer and thankfully, the audience love it as well and the ratings confirm as much.
“What we have with Sky Atlantic and Riviera is a perfect mix. This is an edgy show loaded with glamour, shocking scenes, murder, financial excess, incredible yachts and Russian bad guys stirring everything up.
“I would like to think Riviera will go on for several years. It has been a huge success story for all of us involved and Sky love what we are doing.
“This network are not bound by the same watershed rules as the BBC and this gives them a chance to allow creativity to flourish. The end result is a show that pushes the boundaries and gives you something very special.”
Will Arnett and Juliet Stevenson are among the notable names joining the Riviera cast for season two, with Stiles suggesting the eagerness to use female characters in prominent roles fits neatly into the drive to change the perception of female leads in marquee roles.
“This show could easily be just about big boats and girls in bikinis, but it is much more than that for the female characters,” added Stiles.
“We have four really well fleshed out females in leading roles in Riviera and it feels like the make-up of this show fits in with the mood of change we are seeing across the industry as more doors are being opened for women.
“Riviera is very different to a lot of what we see on TV. It is larger than life, it is set in such an amazing place and we walk a fine line between escapism and the fancy cars that are great to see, alongside some serious characters who are living our extraordinary lives.
“Season one of Riviera finished on quite a cliff hanger and now we have lots of new characters for season two and that adds to the tension and the drama. Also, Georgina is doing things I never imaged she would do and that is always exciting for an actress.
“When I was sent the script for the first episode, I was asking what the premise of the show would be and the quote they gave me was; this is a sunny place for shady people.
“Also, the idea that behind every great fortune is a great crime and the female characters in our show refuse to be pushed around by the powerful men around them.
“With a little baby to distract me at home, I have to be honest and admit I don’t watch a lot of TV at the moment as all of my spare time is spent learning lines and trying to get some sleep.
“That said, I have heard that there is a push for women to get more prominent roles and I’m told it’s a campaign that has been going quite well!”
Series 2 of Riviera starts 23 May on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV