I'm finding it hard to tell when Julia Stiles is finished talking because she ends every other sentence with a raised inflection. And she comes off a bit aloof: No matter how I try to engage the “10 Things I Hate About You” actress, she won’t budge.
It's probably just exhaustion. We’re chatting because Stiles is hard on the press trail for “Riviera,” a murder mystery slash crime drama slash display of extreme extravagance. For real. The whole plot hinges on a yacht blowing up. It’s like “Revenge,” but with a bigger budget — and much prettier views. Say what you will about the series, but the stunning views of Côte d'Azur that it offers are rivaled by no other.
We spoke with the 36-year-old, who plays Georgina Clios — AKA what’s supposed to pass for an antihero in this series — about her first major television role and how social media has changed the entertainment industry.
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First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy!
I’m due pretty soon. I’m excited about it.
What’s it like taking a major lead role on a TV series for the first time?
I was really struck by the premise of the show. Neil Jordan had described his idea behind it as, “Behind every great fortune is a great crime.” And I just thought that was really interesting to explore, and particularly [in] the setting of the French Riviera.
I liked the international sensibility in the show, too. I love that it’s such an international cast and that the scope of it is very international.
Speaking of Neil, how do you feel about him disowning the series after his writing was "heavily reworked?"
I mean, he’s a very passionate, opinionated artist, right? And so sometimes that clashes with studio executives. I’m not really sure what happened? But I feel like we were still able to make a good show.
What was it like doing a series across the pond?
It was great. My only experience doing TV before was on an already well-established show (Stiles appeared as Lumen Pierce on the fifth season of “Dexter”) and I was just along for the ride. To be in the lead in this show was a lot of responsibility, but I think because it was a European show, they were really open to my input, in a way that I'm not sure happens here.
Georgina has some anti-hero vibes, too. We're seeing that more often, and it’s great to be able to see women in these imperfect roles, like with this series, “Fleabag,” “Insecure”—
I know, I love that show "Fleabag," I hope they do another season.
They just announced they’re doing a second season, actually!
Social media plays such a huge role for young actors these days. How do you feel about not having had that extra layer of performance as a young actor?
I was just thinking about that. I’m really glad that when I was starting out as an actor social media wasn’t necessary for success as an actor, especially when you’re starting out. I have a hard time enough navigating that now, having a little more experience, being a more recognizable actor.
The danger is that it gets in the way of being able to play pretend. Because you’re advertising your own personality and your own real life, how can you trick people into thinking that you’re somebody else?
It blurs the line a lot more.
And it seems to have an influence over casting, now they’re very interested in people who have lots of followers. And I feel like that’s sort of contrary to actors who I think are really interesting.
Busy Philipps and Michelle WIlliams recently did this video where they reminisced about all the teen heartthrobs they kissed while on “Dawson’s Creek.” Can you dish about what your favorite teen heartthrobs are that you kissed back in the day?
That’s so tricky because it’s so different when there’s a camera and a whole entire crew watching you. I hate to ruin the romance, but it’s very different than a real kiss.