I’m finding it hard to tell when Julia Stiles is finished talking because she ends every other sentence with a raised inflection. And she comes off a bit aloof: No matter how I try to engage the “10 Things I Hate About You” actress, she won’t budge.
It’s probably just exhaustion. We’re chatting because Stiles is hard on the press trail for “Riviera,” a murder mystery slash crime drama slash display of extreme extravagance. For real. The whole plot hinges on a yacht blowing up. It’s like “Revenge,” but with a bigger budget — and much prettier views. Say what you will about the series, but the stunning views of Côte d’Azur that it offers are rivaled by no other.
Metro USA spoke with the 36-year-old, who plays Georgina Clios — AKA what’s supposed to pass for an antihero in this series — about her first major television role and how social media has changed the entertainment industry.
First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! I’m due pretty soon. I’m excited about it.
What’s it like taking a major lead role on a TV series for the first time? I was really struck by the premise of the show. Neil Jordan had described his idea behind it as, “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.” And I just thought that was really interesting to explore, and particularly [in] the setting of the French Riviera.
I liked the international sensibility in the show, too. I love that it’s such an international cast and that the scope of it is very international.
Speaking of Neil, how do you feel about him disowning the series after his writing was “heavily reworked?” I mean, he’s a very passionate, opinionated artist, right? And so sometimes that clashes with studio executives. I’m not really sure what happened? But I feel like we were still able to make a good show.
What was it like doing a series across the pond? It was great. My only experience doing TV before was on an already well-established show (Stiles appeared as Lumen Pierce on the fifth season of “Dexter”) and I was just along for the ride. To be in the lead in this show was a lot of responsibility, but I think because it was a European show, they were really open to my input, in a way that I’m not sure happens here.
Georgina has some anti-hero vibes, too. We’re seeing that more often, and it’s great to be able to see women in these imperfect roles, like with this series, “Fleabag,” “Insecure”— I know, I love that show “Fleabag,” I hope they do another season.
They just announced they’re doing a second season, actually! Oh. Cool.
Social media plays such a huge role for young actors these days. How do you feel about not having had that extra layer of performance as a young actor? I was just thinking about that. I’m really glad that when I was starting out as an actor social media wasn’t necessary for success as an actor, especially when you’re starting out. I have a hard time enough navigating that now, having a little more experience, being a more recognizable actor.
The danger is that it gets in the way of being able to play pretend. Because you’re advertising your own personality and your own real life, how can you trick people into thinking that you’re somebody else?
It blurs the line a lot more.
And it seems to have an influence over casting, now they’re very interested in people who have lots of followers. And I feel like that’s sort of contrary to actors who I think are really interesting.
Busy Philipps and Michelle Williams recently did this video where they reminisced about all the teen heartthrobs they kissed while on “Dawson’s Creek.” Can you dish about what your favorite teen heartthrobs are that you kissed back in the day? That’s so tricky because it’s so different when there’s a camera and a whole entire crew watching you. I hate to ruin the romance, but it’s very different than a real kiss.
“That time I went camping, nearly eight months pregnant, just to see @nathanielrateliff and the @nightsweatsnc,” Stiles wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of herself cradling her baby bump and toting a maternity pillow, with tents visible in the background.
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Stiles’ rep confirmed to PEOPLE exclusively in June that the 36-year-old star and her fiancé Preston J. Cook are expecting their first child.
The parents-to-be met on the set of 2015’s Blackway, where Cook worked as a camera assistant, and got engaged on Christmas Eve 2015.
Riviera has been recommissioned for a second series on Sky Atlantic, according to the Irish Daily Star. The hit series, starring Julia Stiles, is set to return to our screens in the coming months.
However, it is understood director Neil Jordan will not be involved after he disapproved of the first series. But it is believed former U2 manager Paul McGuinness will be involved once again as executive producer.
Earlier this year, Jordan disowned himself from the series after he said he was left “considerably upset” by the way the series was being portrayed.
The Sligo-born director said at the time that the episodes he co-wrote were changed “to my huge surprise and considerable upset.”
“There were various sexual scenes introduced into the story and a lot of very expository dialogue.
“I objected in the strongest terms possible,” he added.
The glossy, sun-soaked drama stars Julia Stiles as a widow whose billionaire husband has just died in suspicious circumstances. As Julia, who plays Georgia Clios in the show, seeks to find out what happened to her husband, a dark truth unfolds.
Riviera proved to be a resounding success on Sky Atlantic. It was the most successful premiere on Sky Atlantic this year, achieving higher ratings than such international hit series as Billions and Big Little Lies.
The series was viewed nearly 14 million times across Ireland and the UK.
Congratulations to Julia and her fiancé Preston J. Cook who will welcome their first child later this year!
“I’m not getting a ton of marital advice,” Stiles, 36, told PEOPLE in 2016. “We’re really slow on the wedding planning so I haven’t really been soliciting advice. Somebody told me about radical empathy, but I’m still trying to figure out what that means. I’m trying to figure out what makes it radical.”
The couple met on the set of 2015’s Go with Me, where Cook worked as a camera assistant.
Beyond the luxury yacht parties and free-flowing champagne in the French Riviera, darkness lurks—at least according to a new television drama created by Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Neil Jordan.
Sky Atlantic’s Riviera , launching later in 2017, is a stylish, sun-kissed thriller that delves inside the opulent playground of wealthy elites in the south of France, with all its debauchery, double-dealing, and perhaps even murder.
Riviera stars Hollywood actor Julia Stiles as Georgina, the American wife of billionaire Constantine Clios. When Clios, played by Anthony LaPaglia, is killed in a yacht explosion just a year into their marriage, she tries to uncover the truth about his death. Georgina discovers the extent of her husband’s questionable business dealings and navigates a complex web of deceit and depravity to get to the truth of how he died.