Here in the U.S., the first season of the historical drama, Versailles, winds down in grand fashion with the two-hour finale airing Saturday night on Ovation.
Louis XIV’s quest to make Versailles a center of power, fashion, and culture has had a few struggles. He’s had to deal with a plot to destroy him, his brother’s jealousy, and there’s the women he’s bedded, one being his brother’s wife.
The drama all culminates in the season one finale which, “ends in a cliffhanger, an extraordinary, massive cliffhanger,” teases Stuart Bowman, who plays Louis’ right-hand man, Bontemps.
Thankfully for fans of Versailles, a second season is on its way, so there’s no need to worry…too much. The cliffhanger will be resolved in 2017.
In a recent phone call with Bowman, he talks about his relationship with George Blagden, who portrays Louis XIV. He also doles out some insight into the dynamic between their two characters. He previews what Bontemps is up to in the super-sized season ender and find out what the Scottish actor has to say about a project that made him feel like a “rock star.”
TV Goodness: The show has been enjoying international success. What about the show do you think appeals to fans?
Stuart Bowman: Iâ€™m staying with an old director friend of mine here in L.A. who hadnâ€™t seen the show and I brought the DVDs with me. We watched the first two episodes last night together. He loved it. We were sort of working out what it was. I think young people being good — what he was really knocked out by was the quality of the acting especially from the young people because itâ€™s actually not the norm with a new season and especially in the first couple of episodes.
I think the relationship between Alex (Vlahos, Philippe D’Orleans) and George is beautifully drawn and beautifully played by these two and thatâ€™s the core of this. Then the women are beautiful, absolutely stunning, but they act as well and again thatâ€™s really refreshing. I think thatâ€™s what makes people hang on to it. The story is amazing. I mean Louis XIV was an psychopathic genius.
TV Goodness: What appealed to you after you read the very first script?
Bowman: It was the story, yeah. I mean I read it and the characters I had to do were just three dimensional and interesting. These people were historically accurate but the narrative derived from [Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft], the showrunners and the writers, was so efficient and well-drawn and…I believed it and I wanted to know more, which is a great start when youâ€™re reading a script.
TV Goodness: What have you enjoyed about playing Bontemps’ relationship with Louis?
Bowman: George and I metâ€¦I think I was over in Paris for hair and costume fittings and George was over at the same time. Itâ€™s just two weeks before we started shooting, I think, and we hadnâ€™t met before. They got George and I in the room and we suddenly realized they got eight producers to come in and watch us read the scene.
We sort of thought all right, weâ€™re doing a secondary audition. Within moments, almost straight away, I knew that George was fantastic. He was looking me in the eye. He was feeling what was going on. It was not superficial. It was just the style of acting I enjoy and admire and it feels likeâ€¦well I know now itâ€™s a similar process to my own.
George and I have talked about it since that we knew we were talking in the same language and we were trying to dig deep with what we were going to do with these characters.
The relationship is such a beautiful relationship. Such an extraordinary relationship. The father / son thing but mixed with service, mixed with loyalty. The themes that that relationship throws up are fascinating themes and universal themes. Loyalty is a massive one and once you start digging into what motivates somebody to be as loyal as that you go into very interesting territory.
So itâ€™s been an absolute joy. Iâ€™ve been able to spend two years thinking of these themes and digging deep and now Iâ€™ve got another season to go at least. Itâ€™s fantastic. Very lucky.
TV Goodness: What was your favorite moment from for your character in Season 1?
Bowman: Thereâ€™s a scene in episode seven where it was Thomas Vincentâ€™s first day as a director. We had two directors, [who]Â shot five episodes, but Thomas was shooting six and seven. The first scene that he was shooting was the scene in episode seven where George is mad and heâ€™s run off from his bedroom and I go look for him and heâ€™s creating the dance in this extraordinary ballroom.
We shot it in Vaux-le-Vicomte, which is another glorious chateau that we were filming in. I mean weâ€™d turn up at these places and just go, ‘Oh my God, this is the office today. Okay. Weâ€™ll take that.’ This is one of these. I think we shot there before but we arrived there at fiveÂ in the morning and the mist is just rising. The sun was just coming out. We go [into the chateau] and itâ€™s cold and it was Thomasâ€™ first day. It was excitement all around. A new director is always exciting because itâ€™s a change of energy. We had this quite major scene, emotionally deep scene where George tells me or Louis XIV tells Bontemps that he doesnâ€™t trust him, which is possibly the worst thing that could be said to Bontemps.
We did it I think the first time we went into it and something extraordinary happened. I hadnâ€™t seen George until then as emotionally raw as that and I think what happened was the crossover between my love for George and Bontemps’ love for Louis was absolutely apparent in that moment.
So I didnâ€™t need to force anything. Anything that happened emotionally for me was so natural and my thought, be careful, George as a person, came through in that scene. That compounded our friendship, but we have pretty much the same relationship as Bontemps and Louis have apart from the psychosis.
TV Goodness: Louis is sick at that point?
Bowman: Heâ€™s sick.
TV Goodness: And then he asks for the gardener.
Bowman: Yes. That hurt. The gardener?
TV Goodness: I mean you brought up shooting in castles. What was it like to shoot at Versailles and did it help you get into character more?
Bowman: It was a while before I shot in Versailles and, actually, the first season I didnâ€™t actually shoot inside the building. I shot all of the stuff in the courtyard. Most of what we shot in Versailles in the first season was in the courtyard but, in the second season, we shoot a lot more inside.
Once you get into costume and youâ€™re waitingâ€¦we had a lot of stuff, George and I, kind of coming out the front door and walking across the marble courtyard to great people arriving at Versailles. Always, weâ€™d be waiting for action behind the doors and every time you open the doors you see the gates ahead of you. You see a carriage arriving. As weâ€™re walking across the courtyard that Louis and Bontemps would have been walking over 300 years ago, 400 years ago. Goosebumps all over every time.
TV Goodness: Can you kind of feel the ghosts there or see the ghosts?
Bowman: Well, whatever it is itâ€™s something [that] sends the hairs on the back of my neck every time walking down. What it does is you feel the power. You have 100 extras bowing as you pass this courtyard. Youâ€™ve got flunkies opening doors for you. We never open a door. Even as the servant I very rarely actually open a door myself. There are people to do that for you. It feels extraordinary and to do that in that setting where they walked does make like a lot easier as an actor and your imaginationâ€¦youâ€™re put there. Your imagination doesnâ€™t have to do any great work.
TV Goodness: Over Thanksgiving weekend, Ovation is airing a season one three-day marathon. What can you say to fans about how this is a time to catch up and get into the show? How wouldÂ you sell the show to fans?
Bowman: Itâ€™s an extraordinary show. Itâ€™s a brilliant show. I really genuinely feel if you donâ€™t watch Versailles youâ€™re missing out on a major piece of television, an extraordinary piece of television. I am genuinelyâ€¦my friends in the business who have to watch a lot of television and do watch a lot of television and are very particular, Iâ€™m saying to them really watch it. Not for me but for you because you will love it. Itâ€™s a great, great piece of television. I think if you donâ€™t watch it now youâ€™re going to feel sorry for yourself that you werenâ€™t smart enough to get in at the beginning in this extraordinary phenomenon.
TV Goodness: Let’s talk the season finale, what can you tease regarding your character in those two hours?
Bowman: Too much happens in the last two hours. I think what you see, you see Bontemps more agitated and more scared than youâ€™ve ever seen him before.
[And] Bontemps gets to be funny. When I see the comedy scenes I just raise the roof. I get very excited. Thereâ€™s a beautiful scene between myself and Philippe and Chevalier, [Evan Williams] and Alex. We do get to…some of the Versailles fandom have described this as one of their favorite scenes in the whole show. You just believe. I think it speaks volumes about loyalty and about camaraderie and camaraderie amongst actors as well because the three of us just got it right. Thatâ€™s to look forward in episode nine.
TV Goodness: Does the season end with a cliffhanger?
Bowman: Yes. It ends in a cliffhanger, an extraordinary, massive cliffhanger which I know people go, ‘Oh my God, I want Season 2Â now.’ It might be a bit closer than it was for Europeans. I donâ€™t know when theyâ€™re planning on showing season two but I hope for everyone that itâ€™s sooner rather than later.
TV Goodness: Awesome. I mean what else? Do you have time to do anything else or were you all about Versailles?
Bowman: Iâ€™ve had time to do other things. Iâ€™ve just done the most extraordinary job in Scotland. For years I did a sitcom in the UK, a Scottish sitcom, and it gained kind of cult status in Scotland, enough to warrant the right so they decided that we could do a stadium with this show.
So [creator/star Greg McHugh]Â wrote a two-hour stage version of [Gary Tank Commander]Â which we just did in a 10,000Â seat stadium in Glasgow for three nights. We played for 10,000 people a night, which was as close as Iâ€™ll ever get to being a rock star. It was awesome. I can use that American word. Iâ€™m in L.A.
It opened with the boys jumping out of a helicopter and 10,000Â people scream as you come on stage. They know our catchphrases. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ll ever experience anything quite like that again. Itâ€™s just fantastic. Yes, Iâ€™ve got time to do other things like that.
The final two episodes of Versailles Season 1 premieres Saturday night, Nov. 19 starting at 10 ET/PT.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
Interview: Henri Esteve on Grown-ish Season 3
An interview with Henri Esteve, who plays Javi on Freeform’s Grown-ish. He talks about his season three experience.
For All Mankind Season 2: Talking with Wrenn Schmidt, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, and Sonya Walger [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the hooks of For All Mankind is that it’s very much a story about the women of NASA. In Season 2, we explore the journeys of the women in the program, either through their own service or through their family affiliations. Four of those…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Finale [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale episodes.] How’s everyone after that finale? I will freely admit I got a little misty in episode eight as John told Sara why he loved her, and later that he wanted her despite what he might forfeit, and then at the end when he…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness [Exclusive]
Hands down, one of the best surprises of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness is that the serial killer this season has been front and center alongside the cast as a fully-formed character. We’ve watched Libby Hatch devolve from a prim, mild-mannered nurse to a woman in a rage hell-bent on…
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Relationship Recap: John and Sara
[Warning: Spoilers for “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori”] If you’ve read me for a while (thank you!), you know two things — I lean way, way in on the characters I adore and I loathe love geometry arcs. So, I’m torn about where we are and where we…
Louriza Tronco Talks The Order Season 2 [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 2.] The Order’s second season is dark yet delightful entertainment on many levels, and one of its biggest sources of joy and snark is the sassy Gabrielle Dupres. Last season, she was assertive and deadly and fairly annoyed with the world. This season, she’s been…
Previewing Netflix’s Virgin River
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] Full disclosure: I have a Netflix account for my Mom, but I’m not a regular viewer. If I get a heads up on something, I’ll go look for it, but I don’t have a wander across its offerings, which, as I understand it, is how most…
Final Thoughts From the Killjoys Team [Exclusive]
This is the day of the week I’d normally hit you up with a Killjoys preview, but now that we’ve put the series to bed and released Team Awesome Force into the wild, I have one more treat for you–some final thoughts excerpted from my conversations with the Killjoys folks….
Michelle Lovretta Talks Wrapping Up Killjoys [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the series finale.] To quote Miss Jackson, “That’s the end?” Yes, friends, it is. And like I promised you, everything would be, was, and is alright. I went to the Killjoys source, series creator Michelle Lovretta, who wrote the last episode, to break down that delicious finale….
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…