The Borgias will premiere on Showtime on Sunday, April 3, 2011, from 9:00 to 11:00 pm EST. It will move to its regular time slot of 10:00 pm, the following week.
Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger image:
Jeremy is not in this video, but Colm Feore, who plays Cardinal Della Rovere in “The Borgias”, speaks about working with Jeremy and he gives a lot of interesting details about the filming of the series.
Please stop calling Showtime’s The Borgias a sequel to its wildly successful The Tudors. According to Borgias star Jeremy Irons, the shows are alike “as much as Hamlet is the same as MacBeth.”
Billed by Showtime as “the original crime family,” the series depicts the titular family as Rodrigo Borgia (Irons) “builds an empire through the corruption of the Catholic Church and orchestrates a relentless reign of power and flamboyant cruelty” once he begins Pope Alexander the Sixth. The same qualities are seen in his children as Juan (David Oakes) becomes head of the papal armies and Cesare (Francois Arnaud) is made a Cardinal, while Rodrigo plots to marry off daughter Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger) as a means of further improving the family’s political position. Sex, violence, and chaos abounds.
“The series is about power and God and how they interact,” creator, writer, director (of the first two episodes) and executive producer Neil Jordan said. Co-star Colm Feore added that it’s a “very difficult problem. Maybe they don’t work together.”
Yet with all the sin, debauchery and cruelty perpetuated by the Borgias, are they going to repel some viewers who find them too objectionable? It’s possible, but no one seemed particularly bothered. Asked that question, Irons replied, “It’s for us to judge them, and wonder how much has changed [since then].” He added that the fact that people are afraid of skeletons in closets may have something to do with ‘why we have such boring people as leaders” – because they don’t want their misdeeds inevitably exposed by their candidacy.
On top of that, The Borgias faces another hurdle. With religion involved, controversy sometimes follows. Jordan doesn’t expect a backlash, however, saying that “these events are so well-documented and [Rodrigo] did try and protect the institution [of the Catholic Church]. I don’t think the Church will be unhappy.” Yet there’s only so far history can take the fictional Borgias. Asked how much research the actors did, Fiore said that it doesn’t matter as much as we might think, since “you’re only going to be doing the bit selected for the story.” Arnaud concurred: “It’s not about history so much anymore as it is about what we’re telling you.” In other words (mine, not theirs), die-hard history buffs should expect some dramatic license.
If there’s one thing in common between The Borgias and The Tudors, it’s that once again there’s no shortage of salacious content, with plenty of nudity and implied sex acts in the clip reel alone. However, unlike how it became a marketing point for The Tudors, it “just happened to be part of the story” of The Borgias, Jordan said. Yet that’s where the similarities end.
Memorable quotes from The Borgias TCA panel discussion:
1. I read something about Pope John the Pope John Paul, is it, the Polish Pope. And it was from a Catholic theologian who said he wrote, actually, ‘Habet duos testiculos et bene pendentes.’ He said, ‘This man is well hung. That’s why he deserved to be Pope.’ Now, certain things the Vatican will not reveal to all of us, but there is a chair, apparently, a Porphyry Chair, with a large circular hole in it to so these examinations can be made. Now, many people will deny that, but I’ve read I read reputable historians who says it happens, okay? Perhaps no longer, but then it did.” – Neil Jordan, “The Borgias” (Showtime)
2. “I think (Rodrigo Borgia) is a pretty good guy just doing the best he can. I mean, power corrupts, you know. It was a time quite unlike the time we live in today. There were murders in Rome every night, poisonings most weekends. There was incest here and sodomy there. You know, it was a good old rolling, rollicking society. And if you’ve got to try and run that, which the Pope attempts to do, then, of course, you’ve got to play by some of the games, by some of the rules that society follows. I didn’t judge him at all. I just tried to hang on by the…hang onto the position and do what he wanted too. I think it’s up to the audience to say what is good, what is wrong, what is right, and then think how much… wonder how much has changed as you look at present day Italy or present day almost anywhere of power. I think there are huge parallels about what people get up to in order to hang on to power and in order to get their way. I don’t think anything has changed, and perhaps those thoughts will go through our minds when we judge these people. I played him. I thought I was quite a good guy. But George W. Bush probably thought he was quite a good guy, too. Stalin probably liked himself.” – Jeremy Irons, “The Borgias” (Showtime)
3. “As a director, (’The Borgias’) is a nightmare because (the actors) all come with the books about their character. ‘Hang on, I didn’t do that. Look, it says here he did this. It says here he did that.’ Stop, please.” – Neil Jordan, “The Borgias” (Showtime)
From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA coverage:
There’s no mystery where Showtime is taking its marketing orders from in promoting its forthcoming historical costume drama series The Borgias that premieres April 3. The tagline hypes it as “the original crime family,” documenting life in the Italian Renaissance of the late 1400s and the corrupt rule of Rodrigo Borgia, who would become Pope in 1492. As he described during a TCA session this afternoon, the man playing the Borgia patriarch, Jeremy Irons, saw the notorious Rodrigo as “a pretty good guy doing the best he can.”
Irons continued, “It was an interesting time. There were murders every night. Poisonings most weekends. Incest here, sodomy there. It was a good old rolling, rollicking society. If you’re going to run that as a Pope tends to do, you’re going to have to play by some set of rules. I don’t judge him at all. I think it’s up to the audience to say what is good, what is wrong, what’s right. There are huge parallels today to how things were back then as far as what people get up to and what they do to get their way. I don’t think anything has changed really. I played him as someone who thought he was a pretty good guy. I’m sure George W. Bush thought he was a good guy, too. Stalin probably liked himself.”