Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Colm Feore Is Scene Stealing Again In The Borgias

Colm Feore seems to brighten right up when I tell him my feeling he is having a Chris Plummer kind of career.
I mean Feore can do as much TV as he wants --he currently stars in The Borgias which returns for its second season Sunday night at 9 on Bravo!
Some people remember him from the series 24, others from the miniseries on Pierre Trudeau.
He's proved equally powerful in movies from a dazzling turn as Glenn Gould to the entertaining Good Cop Bad Cop.
And certainly he can come back to Stratford anytime he wants.
So when I tell him he's well into a Plummer kind of career I'm surprised that he's surprised.
"I never thought of it that way. But the trick is to keep doing different things."
In The Borgias Feore is at the top of his game as the duplicitous Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere who eventually wound up on the Papal throne as the warrior Pope Julius II.
"Right now I'm battling the Borgias left and right," Feore chuckles--he's on the line from his Stratford home.
"They rightly see me as the enemy and will try anything to get rid of me."
In the first new episode that means a spot of poisoning in a beautifully choreographed chapel scene that sees Della Rovere conducting mass but luckily spilling some of the precious liquid just before he drinks --the wine has been deliberately poisoned by a malicious choir boy who later gets his.
"No, I don't think it was anything as crude as arsenic," Feore chuckles."It was probably 78787878 which is very fast acting. I become very sick but am ready to battle back."
By the way Feore has a Catholic adviser helping him at all times and adding that he just conducted a near perfect Latin mass.
To play the charismatic cardinal meant spending six months in Budapest TV studios.
I remember when I interviewed Feore after he'd played Caesar in the ABC TV miniseries Empire (2005) and he had to spend an equal amount of time in Rome.
So which location os better --the Eternal City or Budapest?
"I think you know the answer to that one," chuckles Feore. "Many of the locations are right near the city, the chapel is in a protected forest. Other courtyards are suitably Renaissance in style. The sets on the sound stages are immense. Everything is done on an epic scale --the costumes are all completely historically correct."
And Budapest has become a hub for TV miniseries --The British miniseries on Titanic was filmed right down the street.
The Borgias is officially an Irish-Canadian-Hungarian co-production. Meaning?
All the postproduction work is done in Toronto supervised by executive producer Sheila Hockin for Take 5 Productions. Montreal's Francois Seguin is the scenic designer. Toronto's SPIN VFX handles special effects. Feore and Francois Arnaud are the Canadian actors.
Feore took the assignment to work with executive producer Neil Jordan and Jeremy Irons who stars as Pope Alexander VI , head of the scheming Borgias.
"Jeremy could not be nicer, our scenes are staged as intellectual battle scenes between two equals each with a different idea of the papacy.
"I thought of Della Rovere as the good guy but at the wrap party Jordan comes up to me and says "Oh, no, you're the bad one, the guy with the black hat. He explained the Borgias may kill and lust about but the audience will prefer them to my rather asthetic creation."
"I should add that Della Rovere has sired his own illegitimate daughter. He saw nothing wrong with that --it was the times."
Feore argues the second season is better plotted, more exciting. "The first year we had to sort out so many characters, explain everything. Now in Season 2 we get right down to it. It's far better written. I really know my character by now. I know he lives for revenge."
In Episode 2 Della Rovere begins to fight back with the kind of tenacity the pleasure loving Borgias could never match. He has one goal and that is to usurp this corrupting pope and will go to any extreme to get his deeds accomplished.
In the long view of history he certainly succeeded --as Pope Julius II he fought pitched battles for his religion and commissioned the painting of the Sistine chapel.
Viewers should think of The Borgias as Dynasty but set in Renaissance times. At $50 million a season the season may well be the most expensive series yet per episode.
"I always thought there would be a second year,"Feore is saying before signing off. "And I think it will continue next season with a whole lot of stabbings and poisonings still to come. We haven't half covered the story as yet."
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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