Showtime’s The Borgias, starring Jeremy Irons and directed by Neil Jordan, is one of television’s hottest new shows and Montreal actor François Arnaud is right there in the middle of all the sex, violence, crime and religion that is making it so popular…
The first episode of The Borgias, directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire), just premiered on Showtime, with Jeremy Irons playing the power-hungry paterfamilias, Rodrigo Borgia, and Montreal actor Arnaud as his son, Cesare Borgia.
Arnaud is already a recognizable face here in Montreal, having already appeared in several Quebec TV shows and Xavier Dolan’s Cannes-award-winning debut, J’ai tue ma mere. But certainly, The Borgias is his big break—the first episode is as gorgeous as a tapestry and as blue as The Sopranos, and that probably means it’ll be a hit. Showtime has been selling the series as a replacement for The Tudors, only with sexy Italians instead of pasty-faced Brits. But for Arnaud, The Borgias’ rollicking 2-hour debut full of sex, murder, and Papal intrigue makes perfect sense.
“It always bothers me when I read reviews that say Neil is ‘sexing up history’,” says Arnaud. “Sex and violence is totally a part of that story and I don’t think it’s (gratuitous). If you think about it, most of what we know about The Borgias comes from what their enemies said,” he continues. “And I think those [dark] impulses are closer in human nature than we like to think.”
In Montreal, posters for The Borgias are everywhere, so much so that Arnaud says he’s now getting recognized even more than before, though he doesn’t think he resembles his version of Cesare Borgia: “They made my skin darker, and I’m wearing a long wig….which is fine with me. I’ve always wanted to be an actor, but not to be famous. I want to live my life.”
When he’s not in L.A., Arnaud haunts his Montreal hood, including some of the spots he name-checks below.
Shopping: I don’t really like shopping for clothes, but I do like one place, Les Étoffes on Saint-Laurent. It’s a really small boutique and I really like what they have for men- their clothes are classy, different and unique, and not too flashy. I don’t like to show off with my clothes. And it’s hard to find men’s clothes that are masculine, but not H & M.
Restaurant: Au Tarot has the best couscous ever! It’s really cheap and really huge and I usually have leftovers for three days. La Montée de lait, it’s so super busy all the time, I can’t think how it could become more busy. But it’s good!
Bars: I’m not really a club person, I prefer dive bars and neighbourhood spots. Waverly Bar that just opened in Mile End is good. I kind of love Buvette Chez Simone, but mostly on weekdays because it’s so busy.
Neighbourhoods: I like Mile End a lot, it’s near where I live. And I like St-Henri and Griffintown, I like up-and-coming neighbourhoods. I like Outremont for a walk- you can wander from Parc to the park.
Parks: If you want to go for a long walk or a hike, the Mountain is cool. I like small parks too, like Joyce park in Outremont. I used to go there a lot when I was a kid. When I was a child it seemed so huge, I thought there was a giant mountain and a forest in there. Then, when I went back as a grown-up, it’s just a small park, really. But very nice.
Guest Blogger: Melora Koepke