Interview: Will Arnett on Sky Atlantic's Riviera 2.
Riviera’s highly anticipated return picks up in the immediate aftermath of the explosive first series finale, where the Clios family is faced with the tragic death of one of their own. Only this time, the blood is on the hands of our female protagonist, Georgina.
Georgina becomes entangled with the Eltham family, an English dynasty that sail in to the Cote d’Azur providing its shores with a dose of old money and bohemian glamour. She goes on to form relationships with the whole family, some that appear genuine from the outset and others that unravel around her as secrets, old and new, become exposed. Juliet Stevenson takes on the role of Lady Cassandra Eltham and is joined on the Riviera by her children, the impossibly stylish Daphne (Poppy Delevingne) and the brooding Nico (Jack Fox) and Daphne’s husband Raafi (Alex Lanipekun).
As Georgina tries to find a way to live with her crime, secrets from her past wash up on the shores of the Cote d’Azur that force her to explore her turbulent childhood against her will. Following an unprecedented and unavoidable visit to her childhood home, Georgina returns with a refreshed sense of self to re-establish her power and position in the family alongside her charismatic confidant, uncle Jeff (Will Arnett).
Elsewhere in the Riviera, the rest of the Clios family is still reeling from Constantine’s death. Christos (Dimitri Leonidas) is on the brink of losing everything, Adriana (Roxanne Duran) loses herself in a dangerous affair and Irina (Lena Olin) struggles to find her lost son, Adam (Iwan Rheon).
The Riviera has never been so tempestuous. Torn between her past and her present, can Georgina navigate her way to safer waters or will she lose her place in a world that she has grown to control?
WILL ARNETT PLAYS UNCLE JEFF
Q: Jeff, who is Georgina’s uncle from the US, is a new character this year. What is his arc in this series?
A: When Jeff gets to the Riviera, he is really blown away by how beautiful it is and by how people live their lives there. He starts to meet the people in Georgina’s life, and he finds them all to be quite bigger than life and humorous to a certain degree. And then, as things start to take a darker turn, he becomes disenchanted with the whole place. Now he looks at it through a different filter.
Q: The drama ramps up in the second series of Riviera, doesn’t it?
A: Yes. In the first season, you’re always getting to know who the characters are and what their deal is. What’s great is that when you have the second season of the show, you can use the foundation that you built and take it to different places. This year there are some fantastic twists and turns that are very much in the vein of Riviera. It’s a fun ride for the audience, and that’s what you want with a show like this. You want to see as much intrigue as you can.
Q: Can you explain the importance in this drama of the world of art?
A: What’s great about this show is the art world. That’s a really good area to get into. It’s very unregulated and quite a few shady characters move in and out of it. Art is one place where money can still move and change hands in a very unregulated way. In France, for example, you can’t exchange cash for goods without being heavily monitored by the government, except when it comes to art. Of course, the valuation of art is ultimately subjective, and so it has historically always been a really great way for people to move and launder money. It really fits with the tone of this show and serves as a remarkably accurate backdrop for the kind of world that these people live in.
Q: Why is it vital that this drama is filmed on location in the South of France?
A: It’s important to shoot in the Riviera because it’s very, very difficult to substitute the South of France for something else. For hundreds of years, painters have come here, and there is no mystery as to why. The landscapes are beautiful, and there is something about the light. The light is just different here. You can almost feel it and smell it when you watch the show, that authenticity. You look at the landscapes, you look at the coastline, you look at all these things that are so unique to the South of France. You can’t duplicate this particular part of the South of France anywhere else.
Q: Tell us about the role of Georgina in Riviera.
A: Because Georgina is the outsider, she provides the introduction to this world for the viewer. Jeff enhances that because you get to see Georgina react to someone from her own life. That really highlights the contrast between an existence that is much more relatable to the audience and this world which is in reality unobtainable for a lot of people. Seeing that contrast, people can identify with a character like Georgina. What would happen if you were thrown into this world with these people who are extraordinarily wealthy and live these fabulous lives? You need a character like that who can set the table for the audience.
Q: Why has Riviera struck such a chord with audiences?
A: This show does such a great job of doing the thing that makes a lot of shows in this genre successful: it’s like a holiday, it’s escapism in an hour. You turn on this show and you can really get into it. You can look at these beautiful locations, beautiful clothes, beautiful people doing all these insane things, killing each other and making out with each other, buying Ferraris and going on yachts and planes. Who doesn’t want to watch that.
All episodes available now via Sky Atlantic / NOW TV