Exclusive: Ovation Versailles, producer Aude Albano says, “He would really value smart women and strong-willed women”

Aude Albano

By Gabrielle Pantera @gpantera

Episode premiere, on November 18th, 2017 at 7pm PT 10pm ET on DirecTV

HOLLYWOOD, CA (Hollywood Daily Star) 2017/11/18 – “What we know about Louis the XIV is he would really value smart women and strong-willed women around him,” says Versailles producer Aude Albano. “He would really value those women’s advice. He was raised by a mother who was regent, who made many hard decisions, an incredible woman. It encouraged him to look for those qualities in other women.”

 

“It took us a longer time to cast Louis,” says Albano. “We tested many actors and many of them were great, but not doing it. What we were looking for, I guess unconsciously, was someone who was not obviously a king, someone who we could see the tragedy, the weakness.

“Two months before shooting, here comes George Blagden,” says Albano. “He was just coming out of Vikings so he had a huge beard and hair like this. We saw his audition. We were flabbergasted. That’s it. We have our king. George, he can be very much in control. He can be very strong. But he also be incredibly touching and moving, relatable and vulnerable. That’s what we really wanted. We didn’t want a king who plays mister know-it-all. Because the story is about how hard it is to be a king, it should feel hard. The decisions are hard to take. George brings that sophistication and there’s a doubt that’s really the character.”

“We worked with two casting directors,” says Albano. “One in France, and one in the UK. This is Juliette Ménager in France and Suzanne Smith in the UK. In France we are looking for actors who have no accent when they speak English. The first actor who was an immediate go was Alex…for the role of Philip. It was just obvious for everybody. He was so amazing. What’s complicated with Philip’s character is he is ambivalent between being flamboyant and tortured, and being a gay man dressed as a woman in the corridors of Versailles and an amazing swordsman, a warrior and leader of men. Complex. Alex brought so many different textures and so much life into it that it was an obvious choice for us.”

“I started to work on this show when it was already put into English,” says Albano. “At first we worked with André and Maria Jacquemetton. For many reasons unfortunately it didn’t work out. Then we met with Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft. They had a good take on the story. Working with English, American writers, on the show really helped us design the show internationally. I don’t mean to be rude to the French writers, who were so wonderful. I would say that they know history better than anyone. We are so protective of history and of Louis the XIV because when in France everyone has history books. The way he is described in the books is always the same. He’s the greatest monarch. He’s the Sun King. He changed France forever. It’s a very one-sided story.”

“I think what was great with having non-French writers on the show was that self-censorship was not a problem,” says Albano. “They feel free to explore the good side, the bad side, the light and the dark. Free to take chances and comfortable with creating drama. Not necessarily to be always true to history…as long as it is good dramatically. That’s what makes it good internationally, because it is good drama. As far as relationships are concerned, when it comes to love and betrayal and jealousy…it crosses the times and the space. It’s very relatable for today’s audience.”

“I go on Twitter,” says Albano who posts as @Versailles. “The night of the airing, each night, I’m seeing the comments. It’s great because we see how people react.”

Versailles is popular overseas and in America. It’s filmed at Versailles, on sound stages and at other chateaus in the area. Versailles was originally the hunting lodge of Louis XIII. His son Louis XIV made it the royal seat of power. He hoped by having all the aristocrats under one roof he could control them. It also made it easier for the king to have many mistresses. The envoys from other countries created tension and upheaval.  Today Versailles is open to the public, is popular with tourists.

Cast:

Executive producers Simon Mirren, David Wolstencroft, Claude Chelli, Jean Bureau and Anne Thomopoulos. Directors of season two: Thomas Vincent, Mike Barker and Louis Choquette.

Ovation TV acquired season two rights from Banijay Rights, the international distribution arm of Banijay Group. Capa Drama. Zodiak Fiction and Incendo co-produce the series, a Canal+ Creation Originale.

Season 2 Episode Guide

  • Episode 1: The Labyrinthe
  • Episode 2: A Still Small Voice
  • Episode 3: Who Will Guard the Guards
  • Episode 4: Miasme
  • Episode 5: War and Peace
  • Episode 6: The Sands of Time
  • Episode 7: A Night
  • Episode 8: The New Regime
  • Episode 9: Seven Shadows
  • Episode 10: Of Blood and Stone

Twitter: @elisalasowski @gblagden @vlavla  @MaddisonJaizan1 ‏ @stuartbowman ‏ @RunyanTygh @evan_m_williams @MaddisonJaizan1 ‏  @ovationtv ‏ #JessicaClark 

 

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