WARNING: Spoilers for Ovation’s Versailles
The second season of the international series Versailles hits America this Saturday on Ovation.
Louis XIV’s journey to turn the gorgeous palace into a powerful center for wealth, culture, the arts, and the French government continues. Look for things to get darker and more toxic when new episodes return. When we say toxic, we mean downright poisonous.
Season 2 Synopsis
In season two, we witness the dark underbelly of power as Louis (George Blagden) sees the dream of his grand Versailles palace crumbling before his eyes. Most of Franceâ€™s eminent lords and ladies now live under the Sun Kingâ€™s roof. Drugs, gambling, and alcohol are rampant, as nobles begin to poison each other in order to get closer to the King and climb up the social ladder.
For this season two preview, we talked to Versailles producer Aude Albano along with four of the female cast members. We caught up with them at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour earlier this year.
The second season of Versailles has already aired in France and the U.K. where fans positively responded to the action and the drama.
Aude Albano: People love season two. I’m really happy with season two myself. I think we got upgraded in every field. As far as the writing’s concerned, the drama, the production value has reached another level. The French audience were really happy. In the UK it worked really well as well. I think the BBC is very happy with the show. We’re blessed.
The new material will feature Louis’ next phase of his plan. But there will be trouble. Lots and lots of trouble within the confines of Versailles.
Albano: He’s got it all. He’s powerful. He’s got his palace. He’s got his nobles under control. So he’s blind to it all. And when he realizes that his dream is about to collapse that it’s been rotting from inside, it’s really devastating for him. And he finds himself going like, what, what, what should I do? What kind of king do I want to be? Because really the journey of season one was from child to man and, in season two, it’ll be from man to king. It’s to decide what kind of king do I want to be? And so that’s very strong for him. So really everything is connected and he’s the protagonist and so everything that he’s going through emotionally speaking has an impact on all of Versailles.
Possibly the core relationship of the series is the troubled one that exists between brothers Louis and Philippe. When the show returns, conflict rules.
Albano: They’re clashing more than anything. Philippe is really looking for a way to live a life that is comforting for him. He’s not the type of guy who is happy just being idol, home, drinking, gambling, he needs action. That’s what’s great about Philippe, right? But it’s hard, obviously, because Louis is always conflicted between giving his brother what he needs because he loves him, and knowing that if he gives him what he needs perhaps he’s going to lose something as a king. So that’s very conflicting for him and so, obviously, this is going to get bigger and bigger as the season goes and hopefully they will find a way to like each other again.
Spoiler Alert: Philippe is getting a new wife (Princess Palatine) and this fact will mean turbulence for his relationship with Chevalier. Look for this union to trigger Chevalier’s insecurities.
Albano: He’s feeling insecure and it’s because of her presence, it’s also because of himself. He’s not dating anyone â€” he’s dating the king’s brother. Of course he’s afraid. He’s looking for scapegoats to blame. I think, in my opinion, it has to do with self insecurities and lack of confidence.
What’s really exciting about season two is how much deeper you get to know the female characters. Albano says this enriching and building up of the female contingent happened organically. Ultimately, it lead to a more balanced season.
Albano: [Historically] women were so important to the story. it was really important for us to give each and every character â€” whether male or female â€” a real journey, a solid journey. It’s not like when we started to develop season two we said, okay, we have to make women more powerful. Because it was obvious that they were powerful in their own way. We had to tell the story that way to be truthful to history, to be truthful to the story we wanted to tell.
The Female Players
QUEEN MARIE-THÃ‰RÃˆSE (Elisa Lasowski)
Louis’ Wife, The Humiliated Queen
On how her research exposed a different side to her character Â
Elisa Lasowski: I saw different types of descriptions of [Marie-ThÃ©rÃ¨se] historically. I guess what you could consider more of a feminist historian was defending her and saying that, actually, she was probably less of a dupe that people made her out to be. That there was power in her silence.
I wanted to show that whatever [Louis] was doing, and it’s definitely something we’ll see in season two, she was trying to create a balance, so she was complementary. She was as pious as he was debauched. She was trying to somehow, in the eyes of France, bring some kind of equilibrium so that’s kind of how I wanted to play her.
MADAME DE MONTESPAN (Anna Brewster)
Louis’ Pregnant Mistress, the New Queen of Versailles
On Montespan’s relationship with the villainous Madame Agathe
Anna Brewster: I wanted to create a mother figure with Agathe. It was a different side to Montespan that you didn’t see. And it was a vulnerability that she had with her. And we kind of found that with like little hugs and there was a certain intimacy and you don’t really see her doing that with anyone else except for the King. We tried to have this mother/daughter, she’s, obviously, a big influence on Montespan.
PRINCESS PALATINE (Jessica Clark)
The Foreigner, Philippe’s New Wife
On Princess Palatine’s fun, honest, quirky personality
Jessica Clark: I think that partly had to do with that kind of German-like honesty and openness about her but, also, there’s that sense that she doesn’t know Versailles, she had never seen the palace before and there’s a whole world and a whole culture that she’s never experienced before. So she’s only gonna come in with who she is and what she does and she’s only going to be able to be honest and truthful to herself.
MADAME AGATHE (Suzanne ClÃ©ment)
Mysterious Sorcerer, One of the big villains of Season 2
On Agathe Not Being Afraid of Louis
Suzanne ClÃ©ment: She defies him. She comes from the people. We don’t know actually where she comes from. She’s probably trying to forget it so we invented her past a little bit. She’s not afraid of him. She would have liked to probably be close to him and this didn’t happen. And she sees what he does to the people, the worse and worse conditions of living. I have this thing in me where I think she’s very opportunist so she could have gone in any direction but since it didn’t happen with [Louis], maybe he’s going to pay. She’d love for him to be destroyed. And she has this thing with men in power. For the women who come to see her and have troubles with their husbands, she can help.
The second season of Versailles premieres Saturday, Sept. 30 at 10/9c on Ovation.
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