The 10-part thriller Riviera, available at Sundance Now (AMC Networks’ premium video streaming service), follows Georgina (Julia Stiles), a high-end art curator who’s newly married to billionaire Constantine Clios (Anthony LaPaglia) and living in the south of France when he’s killed in a yacht explosion. After his death, Georgina discovers that the man she thought she knew and the fortune that he maintained were tainted by dishonesty and criminal activity, and that Constantine’s ex-wife (Lena Olin) and three children (Dimitri Leonidas, Iwan Rheon and Roxane Duran) are more aware about his questionable dealings and their enemies than she is.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Julia Stiles talked about how Riviera came her way, why the project appealed to her, the experience of living and working in the south of France, what made her most nervous about this character, exploring the complicated character dynamics, how she felt about the way the seasons ends, and whether there will be more episodes. She also talked about when she’ll return to work, after having a new baby, the fond memories she has of 10 Things I Hate About You and Save the Last Dance, and what she looks for in a project.
Collider: How did Riviera come about? Were you actively looking for a character that you could sink your teeth into for a bit longer period of time than you get to with a movie, or did this just come your way and the script was too enticing to refuse?
JULIA STILES: It was one of those lucky things where I just got a call from my agent, asking me to read the script. I was at the airport on my way home from filming the Bourne movie, and I really was struck by the premise. I like Neil Jordan’s work and I was excited that he created the show, and the first episode grabbed me. When I asked him what his inspiration for the show was, because I wanted to know that the scenes we would be exploring would be interesting enough beyond the beginning and into 10 episodes or more, he said his idea behind it was that behind every great fortune is a great crime. If you could distill the show into one thing, I thought that was an interesting idea to explore.
And I’m sure the beautiful locations didn’t hurt either.
STILES: It was a delight to be living and working in the south of France for seven months, and to get to see it from the height of the tourist season into the fall and the winter, when it was a little quieter. It was totally a dream, but I wanted to make sure that I’d also enjoy the work part of it, and it was so rewarding. They were really responsive to my input. Every day, we were in a gorgeous location. It was pretty spectacular.
What were you most excited about, with a character like Georgina, and what were you most nervous or worried about with her?
STILES: I was really excited when it became clear to me that Georgina is not to be underestimated, and that she would turn into an anti-hero and do some questionable things because of the circumstances that she’s in. I was also really interested in the art market part of it, the fraud that’s discovered, and the forgery with these paintings. I majored in visual art, but I also think the business side of it is fascinating. And then, I was scared about it being a bit of an unknown when you sign on for a TV show. It’s quite a commitment, which can be great because you’re working with the same people for a long period of time and you get to explore a character for a longer amount of screentime. But a lot of times, you don’t really know what the ending of a season is gonna be because they haven’t written it yet. It’s a bit of a leap of faith, in terms of knowing what you’re signing up for.