Juan Borgia (David Oakes) and his sister, Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger),… (Showtime )
If you thought Lucrezia Borgia suffered in the first season of Showtime’s “The Borgias,” Holliday Grainger suggests you watch Season 2.
“I think she goes through a really kind of difficult first few episodes where she really has to build her strength from the horrible things that happen,” Grainger told me during a recent phone interview. “Lucrezia completely fills out this season. She’s growing up big time.”
In Season 1, Pope Alexander VI (Jeremy Irons) married off Lucrezia for his own political gain. Her husband beat her, pushing her into the arms of stable boy Paolo (Luke Pasqualino), who got her pregnant. By the end of the season, she was happily back home at the Vatican with his love child in her arms.
Grainger says Lucrezia’s happiness doesn’t last long, though, partly due to her brother, Juan (David Oakes), who does something so terrible it changes Lucrezia forever.
Grainger and I talked about those changes, and what we can expect in Season 2 of the series, which returns at 9 p.m. April 8.
Lucrezia goes from innocent in Season 1 to more sort of world wise in the new season, I guess, after the first marriage.
You’ve seen her learn all those lessons in the first season and so I think Season 2 is about her putting those lessons into practice and realizing that she can't just hit back if she’s unhappy with something, so she puts her foot down with her father and with her brothers. So, yeah, I think we now see the emotional effect that the journey she’s gone through in Season 1 has on her.
Season 1 ended pretty happily. How long is that going to last?
Yeah, yeah. [Laughs.] Oh, not long. I think this is part of the interesting thing about Season 2 is that Season 1 was all about the family’s rise to power and was all about them working together as a family to get more power. Whereas Season 2 is they’ve got the power now and it’s about watching the family kind of take power and turning against each other. So there’s a lot. Of course there's all the kind of wider international politics but there's also a lot more kind of family politics and arguments and kind of levels of hierarchy that's shifting in Season 2.
Now, there was also a little clip I saw where it looks like you put a candle under a rope that holds a chandelier.
[Laughs.] Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. [Laughs.]
And it looks like Juan might be under that chandelier.
Oh, yeah. [Laughs.] I mean, that's definitely her intention anyway. Yeah, I don't know how much I’m allowed to say. I mean, well, because we all know that Juan doesn't last as long as the others. This is a great season for David [Oakes]. Because, I mean, Season 2 is a lot about Juan’s downfall because he starts to become a complete ass. [Laughs.] And so, yeah, I think Lucrezia’s anger and maternal instinct comes out as well a lot in Season 2 against her brother.
David is fun to talk to and so sort of happy and everything. But he really plays mean really well, doesn't he?
I know, a bit too well, right? [Laughs.] It’s scary.
Do we see Paolo? Does he return this season?
Oh, yeah, we do. We see him briefly. [Laughs.] I think Paolo is completely is Lucrezia’s first proper love and I think his story is what kind of massively affects her and will affect her kind of future choices. I think that's where a lot of her anger comes from, what happens to Paolo. [Laughs.]
All right, that's a good tease. Is she ever going to actually find love and keep it?
A lot of Lucrezia’s storyline toward the end of Season 2 is about the fact that her experience of love is pain, if she falls in love. You know, marriage has been physical pain and emotional pain and just being used. Then, when she actually falls in love, she’s not allowed and she loses it. So I think she’s become cynical when it comes to love and so she’s no longer the young romantic that a lot of teenage girls are. And she’s also learning the difference between love and lust and if you can't have one, you may as well just satisfy the other.
It sounds like rich emotional territory to mine. Have you found that it’s even more so than you thought it would be when you signed up?
No, no. I kind of was prepared for hefty emotional stuff and that's kind of, I suppose, what attracted me to the role. Because I think that's one part of why I love acting is being able to explore other people's emotions and increase your empathy.
Is it fun play dress up in this show?
Oh, yeah. Oh, it’s amazing. It’s fantastic. I mean, Gabriella [Pescucci] designed some amazing costumes, and I have the most amazing costume cutter [Gergely Borbas]. He’s fantastic. The costumes are actually quite comfortable as well.