From a media release:
Sex. Power. Murder. Amen. Sinful Drama THE BORGIAS Premieres April 3 on Bravo!
Bravo! is about to unleash all that’s unholy with the premiere of its new Original Series THE BORGIAS, airing uncensored Sundays at 10 p.m. ET, beginning April 3 with a special two-hour launch event (visit bravo.ca to confirm local broadcast times). Debuting day-and-date with SHOWTIME in the U.S. and from Academy Award®-winner Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), the international co-production (Canada/Hungary/Ireland) is the compelling and unflinching saga of one of the most remarkable and notorious families in history. Inspiring both Machiavelli’s The Prince and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, THE BORGIAS are “The Original Crime Family.” THE BORGIAS is also set to premiere later this Spring on CTV.
Produced by Take 5 Productions in association with Bravo!, CTV, and Showtime Networks in the U.S., THE BORGIAS is set in 15th century Italy in 1492 at the height of the Renaissance and an increasingly weak and dysfunctional Rome. Shot in Hungary and based on real characters and events, the nine-part, hour-long series chronicles the corrupt rise and ruthless consolidation of power by patriarch Rodrigo Borgia (Academy Award®-winner Jeremy Irons, Kingdom of Heaven, Being Julia), who stops at nothing to control the papal throne and feed his insatiable ambition for influence and wealth for himself and his family. Starring alongside Irons are Canadians Colm Feore (FLASHPOINT, 24) as his arch nemesis, Cardinal Della Rovere, and breakout star François Arnaud (J’ai tué ma mère) as Rodrigo’s ruthless son Cesare.
During the Western Renaissance and the discovery of the New World, power could be purchased, Popes got their hands dirty, and religion and Vatican politics went hand in hand. Through masterful political manipulation, Rodrigo Borgia rose to the most venerated position in Italy, and perhaps the Western world, when he became Pope Alexander VI. Regarded as one of the most remarkable and legendary families in history, the Borgias were despised and feared not solely because they committed atrocious and opportunistic acts of cruelty, murder and debauchery, but because they were better at it than their enemies. In maintaining their power, they committed every sin in the book, and invented more than a few of their own.
“Certainly there was salacious behaviour in the Vatican under the Borgias,” remarked creator/executive producer/writer Neil Jordan, “but what’s most interesting to me is the way in which power wears a religious cloak – and then becomes terrifying in its appetites.”
Rich with tour-de-force performances, THE BORGIAS also stars the Borgia offspring: David Oakes (PILLARS OF THE EARTH) as Juan Borgia, and Holliday Grainger (Above Suspicion, Robin Hood) as Lucrezia Borgia, Rodrigo Borgia’s youngest and only daughter. Also starring are Joanne Whalley (Navy Seals, Scandal, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Willow) as Vanozza, the Pope’s longtime mistress and mother of his children; Sean Harris (Brighton Rock, 24 Hour Party People, Isolation) as Micheletto, the family’s murderous henchman; and Lotte Verbeek (Nothing Personal) as the Pope’s new lover Giulia. Recurring cast members are Peter Sullivan (MI-5, THE BILL) as Cardinal Sforza; Aidan Alexander as Joffre Borgia; Ronan Vibert (Shadow of the Vampire, The Pianist, ROME) as Giovanni Sforza; Ruta Gedmintas (THE TUDORS, LIP SERVICE) as Ursula Bonadeo; and Canadian Emmanuelle Chriqui (ENTOURAGE) as the seductive Duchess Sancia.
Among THE BORGIAS’ cast are two of England’s most heralded stage and screen actors, Sir Derek Jacobi (Henry V, Gladiator, Gosford Park, The Golden Compass) who plays Cardinal Orsini, and Steven Berkoff (Octopussy, War and Remembrance), playing the role of charismatic preacher Savonarola.
In the two-hour premiere episode (Sunday, April 3 at 10 p.m. ET), it’s 1492 and the height of the Italian Renaissance. While Milan and Florence prosper, Pope Innocent VIII lies dying in an increasingly weak and dysfunctional Rome. The struggle for succession is a political chess match, and though many established noble Italian families have expectations of obtaining the honour, it’s up-and-comer Rodrigo Borgia (Irons) who, with the help of his son Cesare (Arnaud), manages to bribe and cheat his way to the Papacy. The patriarch of perhaps the most fascinating, politically manipulative and ambitious family to have ever laid claim to the Papacy, Rodrigo becomes Pope Alexander VI. However, trouble follows this victory almost immediately – Cesare resents his father’s decision that he must become a Cardinal, while his younger brother Juan (Oakes) gets to lead the Papal armies. Their beautiful 14-year-old sister Lucrezia (Grainger) is set to become a pawn in the family’s power struggles and their mother (Whalley) does not take favourably to being sidelined by Rodrigo’s new lover. Cardinals Della Rovere (Feore) and Orsini (Jacobi) are high on the list of enemies opposing the Borgia papacy, and plotting their downfall. Assassination attempts loom, but Cesare quickly learns that it’s a game of kill or be killed, recruiting mercenary killer Micheletto (Harris) to take care of the family’s dirty work – and there’s no shortage in sight.
THE BORGIAS is written by Neil Jordan. Executive Producers are Neil Jordan, James Flynn, Sheila Hockin, Jack Rapke, Darryl Frank, and John Weber. Co-producers are Bill Goddard (Canada) and Karen Richards (EU). The accomplished Canadian creative team includes Jeremy Podeswa (THE PACIFIC, SIX FEET UNDER) who directs the series’ final three episodes, Director of Photography Paul Sarossy (THE LISTENER, Chloe) and Production Designer François Séguin (The Barbarian Invasions, Lucky Number Slevin). Brett Burlock is Vice President, Development for CTV. Joanna Webb is Senior Vice President, CTV Inc. Susanne Boyce is President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc.