Words by Louise Busfield
Take a look at some of Sky’s in-house studio dramas that have surfaced your small screens recently. They made not have achieved as much noise as those say from Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, but they certainly have a knack for attracting hugely successful names and incredible shooting locations.
Riviera is no different. It is set in several glorious areas along the Riviera, including Monaco, Nice and Cannes. Lead by Julia Stiles (The Bourne series, Silver Linings Playbook), created by the Oscar winning writer Neil Jorden (The Crying Game) and starring a sea of international names – Iwan Rheon, Adrian Lester and Lena Olin, the show looks set to become fearsome competition for the power house studios across the ocean.
“In Riviera, the fortune that maintains an immaculate, ever-so-tasteful lifestyle is revealed to be tainted with dishonesty, double-dealing, crime and, in the end, murder. So Riviera is, at its heart, a story of the genuinely filthy rich”
– Neil Jordan, creator and co-writer.
Julia Stiles plays Georgina Clios, the smart and resourceful second wife of billionaire banker, Constantine Clios (Anthony LaPaglia) who dies in a yacht explosion. His death sets off a domino effect of revelations that leads her into the dark world of the Riviera’s super-rich. There, she is forced to learn to adapt, survive and thrive if she is to save the Clios family and its fortune. Georgina goes from being an art curator to being plunged deep into the underworld of the “filthy rich” and to do that an actress needs to be tough, which after her role in the Bourne series Stiles is believably so.
“It’s a privilege to play a sophisticated lead in a show and have the opportunity to play her in all different situations,” says Stiles. “At times she is naive and at other times she is cunning.”
It would seem that everyone around her has an agenda and with the disappearance of the Clios family fortune, Georgia must battle with the family she married into from Constantine’s revengeful first wife, Irina (Lena Olin, Chocolat, The Ninth gate), her drug-addict stepson, Christos (Dimitri Leonidas, The Monuments Men), and her estranged stepson, Adam (Iwan Rheon, Game of Thrones, Misfits).
However, it’s Georgina’s supposedly dead husband who conceals the most secrets and she must now navigate her way through the elaborate web of corruption he has left behind, with all threads leading back to one constant theme: art.
The shows idea is to expose the darker flipside of the Riviera’s usual glitz and glamour appeal, hoping to be both a compelling family drama and an intelligent and thrilling crime series.
“Somerset Maugham described the south of France as a sunny place for shady people,” says executive producer, and former manager of the hugely successful rock band U2, Paul McGuinness. “Rich people are very keen to keep their privacy and there’s a lot going on in the south of France that is not written about in the newspapers – lots of rumours, lots of mysteries and rich people doing terrible things to one another, but out of sight.” In other words it is the perfect setting for a show like Riviera.
“There is something about the French Riviera that has always attracted some of the most glamorous people in the world and where there is glamour and money there is also corruption and dirty secrets.” adds fellow executive producer Kris Thykier. The production value definitely reflects this, with helicopter shots, boat filming, and yacht explosions – all on location, the show lives and breathes riches.
It goes without saying that a story filled with sex, art, money, murder and scandal set in the glamorous, sun-soaked world of the French Riviera would catch anyone’s attention. Lets just hope Riviera lives up to the hype.
Riviera is available now on Sky Atlantic and Now TV catch-up.