Friday, 3 May 2013

An Interview With Isolda Dychauk

Today I am very excited to have the lovely Isolda Dychauk here on Loyalty Binds Me for a short interview about her role as Lucrezia Borgia in "Borgia: Faith & Fear". As I'm sure you're all aware, "Borgia" is my favourite adaptation of the history of the Borgia family; so having Isolda here today is really very exciting for me. I hope you all enjoy what Isolda has to say!

Isolda as Lucrezia in Borgia: Faith & Fear

First of all Isolda, thank you so much for agreeing to do to this interview for me, it’s an absolute honour to have you here. What was it that attracted you to the role of Lucrezia in Canal +’s “Borgia: Faith & Fear”? "
The are a lot of things I love about the interpretation of Lucrezia. First of all it is an incredible honor to breathe life into a character, who really existed  It also is a great challenge to create this amazing development from a little girl to a liberated, strong women."

Before you auditioned for the role, and even after you got the role and began to prepare, what were your initial thoughts on the historical character of Lucrezia Borgia?
"There are a lot of rumors about the Borgia family, especially Lucrezia. Most people think of her as the wife, which poisoned her husband or as the daughter, which slept with her father and her brother. Therefore in the beginning, I was trying to find some of the the 'good sides' of Lucrezia."

Isolda as Lucrezia and John Doman as Pope Alexander VI (screencap from Season 1)

How did you prepare to play Lucrezia? Are there any particular books that you would recommend?
"To be honest, I didn't read many books about the Borgias, partly because of all these rumors. For the first episodes my preparation has been the directions of Tom Fontana and Oliver Hirschbiegel."

There are many rumours that have come down to us about the Borgia family. The one that sticks in most people's minds is that there was a lot of incest going on between Lucrezia and the male members of her family. In the show we see these rumours taking shape - what are your thoughts on these rumours and do you think there was any truth in them?
"I certainly don't think all of them are true. The Borgia has been a powerful and successful family, with many enemies. Therefore many rumors has been created only for the sake of harming them. I believe Lucrezia and Cesare had a very close relationship, I am not sure about the incest, though." 

What particular moment of Borgia history particularly interests you?
"I don't have any particular moments which I find more interesting than others. After filming for 2 years I love more or less everything about this period of time. Even though I'm glad I don't have to struggle with the problems they had back then..."

Isolda (Lucrezia) and Mark Ryder (Cesare) - photo manipulation by me.

As I watch watching Season 1 of Borgia, I could tell just how close all of the cast were. What was it like working with such distinguished actors as Stanley Weber, Assumpta Serna and Marta Gastini?
"Working with this cast and crew has been a blessing. Each of them is wonderful in their own way. Marta and I are like sisters by now, I trust her with every thought I have, she has always the right words to help."

In history, Lucrezia was described as an innocent pawn in the politics of her family. What are your thoughts on this, and how did you bring this into your portrayal of her?
"Season 1 is focused on Lucrezia becoming a woman, therefore there was not much politics involved. In season 2, she becomes Governor of Spoleto, which is her first step into politics. It was a huge challenge for her but she trusted her intuition and made the right decisions."

If you could play any other character in history, who would you play and why?
"There are so many fascinating characters in history, I don't think I can focus on just one."

Promotional photo of Lucrezia in Season 2 of Borgia

Are there any other projects that you’re taking part in, that we can look forward to?
"There are a few films coming up, after we finish filming season 3, but it's not official yet."

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I can’t wait to see Season 2!
"Thanks to you, it's been a pleasure."

Season 1 of "Borgia" is available to buy on Amazon, and Season 2 is now available to purchase from (with English audio). Please do check them out!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Review: The Borgias ~ Siblings ~ And A Bit Of MythBusting

It seems that after Showtime aired the third episode of The Borgias Season 3 that this blog has had quite a few hits searching for things like "were the Borgias really incestuous?" and even odder requests searching for members of the Borgia family without any clothes on. Considering as how the searches brought people to older mythbusting posts; I thought I would take the opportunity to do another one. And thus, I shall be killing two birds with one stone today ~ a review of 3 x 03, and a Borgia mythbust! I must apologise for my lack of a review for 3 x 02; we can blame Da Vinci's Demon's for that one. However, enjoy!

Rumours have filtered down to us throughout the centuries that the Borgia family enjoyed a closer than close relationship. Anti Borgia propaganda has told us that Pope Alexander VI enjoyed incestuous relations with his daughter Lucrezia; but the rumour that has stuck is the one that Cesare Borgia was involved with his own sister. We even have tales that the famous Infans Romanus was actually the child of Cesare and Lucrezia as well as a whole heap of secret bulls stating that the father of the child is Cesare's and in another bull that it's Pope Alexander's. This episode belongs to a post entirely of its own and so I shan't go into it here in too much detail. The important thing to take from this is that the rumours stated that the child belonged to Cesare and Lucrezia. Did it? We don't know. Personally, I hold little store in the rumours and am more of the opinion that the child belonged to Cesare and an unknown woman. But again, this will be spoken about in more depth in a future post.

Holliday Grainger doing her best lion impression

"It seems only a Borgia, can truly love a Borgia"

The main origin of the incest myth is really rather simple. In 1493, Lucrezia married Giovanni Sforza - it was a marriage of politics, Pope Alexander VI believed that having the Sforza's as his allies would help him in his political endeavours and it was a way of thanking the Sforza family for their help in electing him as pope. However, Pope Alexander soon grew tired of the Borgia/Sforza alliance, it was doing nothing for him politically and he needed more powerful allies. Annulment proceedings began and of course, Giovanni Sforza refused. Lucrezia was sent to a convent, and it is said that Giovanni begged the Pope to have his wife returned to him. Alexander refused on the basis that the marriage had never been consummated. Sforza was asked whether this was true or not, and he of course replied that this was untrue; that he had known his wife an infinite number of times and that the only reason a divorce was on the cards was so the Pope could keep his daughter for himself. Add this onto how obviously close Lucrezia and her brother were; and the flames began to spread. 

There are stories throughout the Borgia history of how close Cesare and Lucrezia were. One of my personal favourites is when he rode to Ferrara when she was sick and sat talking to her, holding onto her foot. 

There are thousand other anecdotes I could quote from the smallest up to the moment of Cesare's death where Lucrezia locked herself in a room, crying out her brother's name. But again, this could take up a whole post on its own or even a series of posts (there's an idea!) and so that will have to wait. At any rate, I hope from a brief overview I have managed to put across that the whole "borgiacest" anomaly is based entirely on rumour with no substantial evidence to back it up. And indeed in all my years of researching the family, I have never read a credible report of any such rumours; just propaganda from anti-Borgia factions. Were the stories true? We will never know, not without being handed a hand written note from either Cesare or Lucrezia stating that this actually happened. And what's the likelihood of that? It is down to us as researchers and historians to draw our own conclusions...

Francois Arnaud making Cesare look all broody again.

These two are big fans are the sex eyes. Have been since season 1

And this is where I come onto the latest episode of The Borgias. This episode has been the talk of the "fandom" ever since it was announced that Neil Jordan was going down the incest route and I have to say, I really didn't want to watch it. I will say now though, that the actual incesty bit is very short and actually very well done, not seedy at all. That whole part of the storyline, whilst based on little more than rumour, actually ended up being very interesting and I felt ever so sorry for poor Alfonso D'Aragona. He discovers that his marriage into the Borgia family isn't going to go as well as was first planned, and after discovering Cesare's political manoeuvres already coming into play he abandons his new wife on their wedding night. Already finding that her love for her brother is getting more and more intense, she finds herself drawn to his chambers where the two of them spend the night together. Lucrezia echoes the words she spoke to him in the first season, "I shall never love a husband as I love you, Cesare", by telling him that for that night at least he will be her husband.  


Poor Lucrezia; she believes that everyone is out to get her. Then her brother comes in and snogs her face off.

Can I see why Jordan went down this route? Yes, I certainly can. It certainly makes for riveting viewing and a story arc that is quite frankly, rather mind blowing. Mix that in with stellar acting from the amazing cast, beautiful costumes and the most mind blowing sets I've ever seen; The Borgias is certainly one of the best shows on television at the moment. What I can't quite forgive however, despite the fact that this is a historical fantasy, is the complete mess that the script makes of the history. In the first episodes alone I counted more inaccuracies than I could shake a stick at; but when the incest angle was brought into play I honestly felt physically unwell. Neil Jordan always said that he would never go down that route because it wasn't a story about incest. But it seems he caved and went down the routes that the fans of the show wanted. What makes it worse as well is that there are those fans of the show who honestly believe that the history is true, and refuse to pick up a book because they believe everything that they have seen on The Borgias. I've lost count of the amount of snotty emails and comments I've had because the things I write on the family aren't what are on The Borgias. 

So therefore I must be lying...

It's my hope that the latest episode brings more people here so that they can find out a little bit of background to what the actual Borgia family were like and the history that inspired the show. Because if I'm honest the real history is much more juicy than what's shown on the series. At any rate, I shall keep watching Season 3 as I'm intrigued to see where they'll go with the story arc; and I'm always impressed by the dynamics of the actors. Is it worth a watch if you're new to the history of the Borgia family? Yes. But I'd recommend reading a good biography of the family first of all.

It's that broody face again

Caterina Sforza and Cesare Borgia. Enemies until the end.

Arnaud is a REALLY big fan of the smoldering broody look.

Having just been abandoned on her wedding night, Lucrezia makes her way towards her brother's chambers.

"You shall be my husband tonight, Cesare"

Further Reading