Tyranny of Style - Meredith Markworth-Pollack IIEdit
Meredith Markworth-Pollack easily integrates her artistic eye for style and design into her work on Television's top shows. Currently she sets the trends as the Costume Designer for REIGN, the CW Network's new period drama about the story of Mary Queen of Scots. She effortlessly blends historical costumes with contemporary elements creating a completely original look. This has earned her a spot as one of the "10 Hot Costume Designers In New Hollywood" according to Entertainment Weekly.
With experience assisting on The CW’sGOSSIP GIRL and head designer on HART OF DIXIE, Meredith has established herself as a go to for the ever-popular trend of influencing contemporary fashion through Television. With both a film degree and fashion background her aesthetic jumps off the screen with a strong visual impact, not only from the elaborate details of the costumes, but from the copasetic look of the characters, their relations to each other, and their environments. Her impeccable designs have caught the eye of Hollywood's elite such as Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (GOSSIP GIRL, THE O.C.), Brad Silberling (MOONLIGHT MILE, LEMONY SNICKET) and Laurie McCarthy(REIGN, FELICITY).
Meredith currently resides in Los Angeles but is most often found shopping in New York, and shooting in Toronto and Ireland for REIGN.
“It’s pretty obvious from their first episode together that there’s a spark of something that could happen,” Renaude’s portrayer, Vincent Nappo , tells TVLine. “They’re both very honest with themselves and other people when they’re making tough decisions. They do things because it’s exactly what they need at that moment. They’re also both being held in place, so they had this immediate connection in the woods. I think we’re going to see that progress.”
And things are only going to get messier as, per The CW, Kenna “crosses a line” with Renaude on Thursday’s episode (9/8c). Of course, Renaude’s intrusion into the world of Kash — or is it Benna? — doesn’t come without some considerable guilt, at least on Nappo’s part.
“I started to cram when I first got the part,” he says. “All of the relationships are so important, and there are so many different combinations, but then I have to try to forget that I know it when we’re filming; Renaude has no idea who Bash is.”
And Nappo knows viewers aren’t going to love him for coming between a fan-favorite couple. In fact, being seen as a troublemaker is something he came to terms with fairly early on.
“I guess that’s going to happen when you kill a man with your bare hands in your first scene,” he says. “I’ve done quite a bit of stage combat over the years in theater, but never on camera, so that was awesome.”
“We’re the happy couple now!” Jonathan Keltz tells TVLine of Leith and Greer. “Leith has been trying to get back to that dream he and Greer had for themselves in the beginning, which they never thought was possible. Now, with the annulment, he believes so much that the dream is possible; the dream is real.”
Of course, Greer isn’t the only woman in Leith’s life these days. He’s also been assigned to protect Princess Claude, an arrangement Keltz says will be “rife with hilarity and wonderful, witty banter.”
“Claude is somebody who, as we’ve seen over the past few episodes, is really a lovely person who’s been shaped by people’s perceptions of her,” Keltz explains. “Being treated like a sociopath by her own mother really affected her, but the fact that she remains sensitive and vulnerable is truly a testament to her character.”
And then there’s Leith’s involvement with the cardinal, which will test “how far (he’s) willing to compromise his morals and his friendships and his place in French Court for this love.”
Generally speaking, Keltz urges fans to brace themselves for the final episodes of Season 2, which will change… well, pretty much everything.
“There are some people returning from our past, as well as some new people arriving,” he teases. “The very foundation of French Court, England, Scotland — everything is about to change. … It’s going to re-shape who’s alive, who’s not, who’s here, who’s not and what the show and French Court even are moving forward.”
Prepare thyselves, Reign fans! Now that King Antoine is convinced Bash is responsible for his brother’s death, Ben Aldridge says his character is ready to exact his revenge on Thursday (The CW, 9/8c and Wednesday (M3, 8/9c) — and Kenna is a major part of his master plan.
“He sees her as a possible route to vengeance,” Aldridge explains. “Antoine could offer Kenna a lot of things Bash couldn’t. With a king charming her, I think it’s very possible she’ll find herself tempted. His aim is to cause harm to Bash via Kenna somehow.”
Of course, there’s always a chance Antoine’s good-natured brother could step in and prevent him from doing something he — and certainly the viewers — might regret.
ReignSeason 2 Spoilers “There really are two sides of Antoine,” Aldridge admits. “There’s the evil, plotting, vengeful side, but there’s also a very sincere side when it comes to his family. There will be more dramatic scenes between him and Condé, where he reminds him how their family has suffered.”
Regardless of how Antoine’s scheme plays out, though, Aldridge has been “relishing” the opportunity to play French Court’s latest villain (of many more to come, I’m sure).
“It’s nice to play someone who’s always got a hidden agenda,” he says. “I’ve been going into every scene with a bit of a dagger behind my back.”
High-Fashion Historic Hybrid - The Costume Design of Reign
Fashion Style's of Reign Meredith Markworth Pollack
The CW’s Reign, based loosely on the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, has taken a decidedly modern approach to the retelling of this historic drama. And the costumes have played a huge part in this adaptation. Maddening to period purists, the show has purposely created a high-fashion hybrid, weaving in current fashion with historic styles. As a costume historian, I initially found it hard to settle into, as referenced by my first review after only one episode. However, I am thankful I took the time to revisit the show, plunging further into the storyline and costume journey. The show has proven an excellent fantasy hybrid, fascinatingly mixing period costumes for the background and older characters, but letting loose in reimagining the main and younger characters.
I recently had the chance to talk with costume designer Meredith Markworth-Pollack about her process in desconstructing this period, and reimagining it for a new audience. She shares with us great insight, and is even forgiving of my initial judgments!
Tyranny Of Style: Can you talk to us about the early conversations with the creators of the series about this hybrid of historic and contemporary costumes?
Meredith Markworth Pollack: “I first spoke to the show's creator Laurie McCarthy and the director of the pilot Brad Silberling as I was wrapping out the second season of Hart Of Dixie. I had a phone interview with them as they were already in Ireland prepping and I pretty much jumped on a plane two days later. They explained to me that Mary and her ladies should feel "of the times" but with modern elements like fabrics, accessories and hairstyles. They kept saying, "think Free People" and I admit I was scratching my head. But as we spoke more and exchanged references and tears I started to understand what they wanted. It wasn't the constricting, neck-ruff wearing Elizabethan fashion we would associate with the period. It was a romantic approach, still with impressive gowns and textiles but with a more relaxed feel. Being very familiar with the CW network and their strong relationship with fashion and fans- it was presented from our first conversation that there would be contemporary elements- elements that the fans could emulate on their own. They wanted the fashion of Reign to be a movement. I showed up in Ireland with Tiger Curren my assistant and we had two weeks prep before we started shooting. I basically didn't sleep the entire time. I just kept thinking, "Holy shit what have I gotten myself into." When you aren't limited to only portraying the historical version- the door is wide open, and that took a moment to define. In a way it's more fantasy than anything else. We created a look and defined the rules ourselves.”
T/S: How did you first set about creating the visual costume language of the world of Reign in those early episodes?
MMP: “I realized very quickly the way to blend the historical and contemporary was all in the palette and textures. I figured if the costume looked like it belonged, then most people wouldn't question it. I didn't want anything too bold or new looking that it would take you of the element. It was important to me in my process to start with the history. Still today when I am creating a new design, I like to start with a historical image and then tweak it to make it Reign. Once the pilot got picked up and I knew I was moving to Toronto, I spent the next couple of weeks researching and collecting tears. I made a board for everything. There was a Romantics board with the bohemian, Free People vibe. There was a Couture board with basically all Mary, Queen of Scots, Catherine de Medici, Diane de Portiers, King Henry II, Francis II, etc. I pulled costumes first in Los Angeles at Warner Bros, Western and Palace. The women’s rentals were easy to come by, but I soon realized I had nothing for the men. I then jumped on a plane to Rome and went to Tirelli. I knew that was the best house for men’s costumes of the period. That was a dream. I was blown away, and as I walked in to the atelier they said "Oh you just missed Sophia Loren!" It couldn't have been more Italian. I didn't have time to go to Angels but we ended up renting quite a bit from there as well. We are so lucky in Toronto to have the Stratford Shakespeare Festival close by, and rent costumes from there. Toronto also has a thriving vintage scene and I loaded up on gowns, jewelry and shoes. I have shoppers in New York and Los Angeles sourcing fabrics for us as well. We constantly need new fabrics and I often order from Europe and India too.”
Research and Inspiration Board - Reign - Costume designer Meredith Markworth Pollack
T/S: A large portion of the show is historically accurate- especially the older characters and the background players that ground us in the time period, and then you’ve gone wild with the leads, especially the younger characters. Can you tell us what rules/parameters you have set for yourself and your team in creating the broad visual world of Reign, and how has that early vision evolved with the show?
MMP: “After the pilot it became apparent that keeping the background in a more historical correct look just helped define the tone of the show. There are definitely liberties taken with said accuracies but since the volume of BG is so high (at least 200 per episode), it's actually easier and more efficient to dress them in a historical manner. In general we use rentals on our BG and the rentals are re-creations from the period. It actually takes more money, time, and effort to create a blend with contemporary elements than strictly historical. We've kept the same standards for our nobles and elders, including Queen Catherine and King Henry. The idea to push the boundaries with Mary and her ladies worked story wise as well since they had come from Scotland to France; with them they brought their avant garde fashion sense. I worked with the showrunner Laurie McCarthy to define the general rules of the dressing- no neck ruffs, no hip rolls, and no pumpkin shorts!”
T/S: Can you talk specifically about how you go about designing for Mary from episode to episode and scene to scene? Her costumes always tell a wonderful color and texture story, but they also move wildly in silhouette from what looks very historic- corseted bodice, long sleeves, and full skirt, to very body conscious dresses that fit the bust, waist, and hips very closely, to un-corseted almost peasant style bohemian looks. Can you speak to what the motivation is between the varying silhouettes and how you use them for different moments?
MMP: “For me, Mary is the ideal woman to design for- there is dichotomy innately in her of a lover and a warrior. The lace and the leather as I like to put it. This may be an age-old duel, but I find it very current. I know of so many strong women who have this pull- one day you're feeling romantic and soft and want to wear something feminine and delicate. The next day you may have an important meeting and want to come across as strong and confident, so you wear your favorite black blazer. That's Mary. So when we see her in vulnerable moments with Francis or her ladies I like to play around with peasant blouses, lace dresses, embroidered corsets, etc. And when she is dressed to intimidate or stand her ground I like the structured gowns with lots of black leather and metallics. I like to treat Mary's layers and heavy textures as her armor. She has to protect herself, especially after her rape, and she would do so through her wardrobe. I'm most attracted to heavily beaded fabrics. I've been fortunate to find great Indian fabrics that do the trick. We make these into bodices and corsets for her. They're heavy and annoying to wear but Adelaide Kane(who plays Mary) is such a great sport. She's game for anything.”
T/S: Queen Catherine often feels like the most historically costumed of the lead characters- beautifully tailored, rich fabrics, and always gorgeously framing her face and neck. What was the inspiration and motivation behind how you costume her, and how has that evolved over the series?
MMP: “Yes Catherine de Medici is the most historically accurate from our principle characters. She's also the strongest and I really feel this is represented in her wardrobe. I love using strong necklines and cinched waists, which emulate the shape of what we would see in the 16th Century. I am so fortunate designing for Queen Catherine because of Megan Follows. I find you really can't keep your eyes off Megan- her performance is engaging. She's not afraid to sometimes "take one for the team" as I like to say and wear shapes that may not be the most flattering, but work so well for Catherine. We especially saw this in Season 1 as she was in an un-happy marriage and had it out for Mary. She was a bitch. She required a wardrobe that was strong, formal, and conservative at times. Now that Henry is dead and she is re-discovering her sexuality as well as her role at French court, we've been able to play with her silhouettes and fabrics. We keep her a bit more casual and in more body-con shapes. It feels a bit more medieval. I love anytime the writers give Catherine a love interest or sex scene. Middle-aged woman are sexy! It seems the networks are afraid of that, but Megan and I are not.”
T/S: Can you talk about the motivation between the various silhouettes and styles behind Mary’s ladies? What was your initial vision for each girl, and how have their costumes changed with their characters through the season?
MMP: “I wanted Mary's ladies to each have their own unique style and incorporate elements of contemporary trends, but in no way overpower Mary. Lady Kenna read as a social climber with a desperate approach for wealth and a title. But once they cast Caitlin Stacey who has a very natural, hippie vibe I decided to play her in a more relaxed, bohemian wardrobe. I love it because you're not always expecting Kenna do say and act as she does, especially when she's wearing chiffon layers and flower crowns. But hippie chicks can want fame and stature too. Lola was always the romantic. She was my heroine and I wanted her in a warm, feminine palette- lot's of burgundies, purples and floral prints. Anna Popplewell has this remarkable period face and body. I always tell her she needs to do a 1940s film after Reign, and there is definitely a ‘40s influence in her wardrobe- structured bodices with strong shoulders, tiny waists, and dramatic skirts. Greer has perhaps had the biggest transformation from all of the ladies. She started out as a young woman constantly trying to keep up her stature. I showed this through her impressive gowns and jewels. She was always done up and very formal. I love the gem tones on her, especially the deep blues and emerald greens. Now, however, she's lost everything and exiled from the castle. I've been keeping her in her most subdued pieces from her closet and playing lots of natural colors to work with the earth tones we see in the village.”
T/S: The menswear is spectacular! You’ve stepped into a fairly common costume trend of taking men out of ill-fitting historic hose and using a fitted trouser instead. You’ve then cranked up the volume! For Francis the combination of rock star style leather pants and studded belts with wonderfully gentle poet shirts is fantastic. And King Henry wears a lot of elaborate leatherwork doublets and jackets, mixed with gorgeous thick knit turtlenecks. Can you talk to us about your inspiration behind the menswear of the series and how it has evolved over the series?
MMP: “We have a lot of fun with the menswear, especially with all of the leathers. There is an incredible store here in Toronto called Fauk Leather, and they just have the most delicious leathers and suedes. The leather pants have pretty much become a staple for our men. They all have 5 or 6 pairs because they tend to split them open when horseback riding. Toby Regbo(who plays Francis) has a natural rock 'n' roll vibe, so he can wear the leather doublets and pants incredibly well. We started him very simple at the beginning of Season 1 to give ourselves room to grow as he takes on the role of King. He tried so hard not to be the kind of King his father was, so I purposely kept his wardrobe very different from Henry's. Where Henry was flamboyant and typically regal in rich reds and gold, I kept Francis in black and metallics. This also was done intentionally to keep him and Mary in complementing palettes. But now as Francis has matured and inevitably become a dictating King, I am incorporating more elements of Henry's past wardrobe. Many more furs and velvets and rich colors. We also stretched from just the doublet for Francis. I wanted him to become more and more imposing, but he's still so young, so this was a challenge. I decided to build him longer frock coats to be worn open over vests. This helped build him up so to speak. Obviously the frock coat wasn't introduced yet, but this was liberty I decided to take.”
T/S: TV production schedules are tight! Can you give us an idea of your timeline from receiving script to when the costumes go before the camera? How are you sourcing fashion, finding rentals, and creating such beautiful custom pieces in that timeline?
MMP: “I was a bit naive in thinking Reign would be shot on a different model than other network shows because it's a period show- but no, we shoot an episode in 8 days, and 22 episodes a season! We shoot two tandem days an episode to get inserts and such. It's borderline insanity. There are very few (if any) period shows that shoot as many episodes as we do a season. When you take that combined with our ten principle characters who have on average about 3 changes an episode, it's quite a few costumes. We currently have 2 cutters and 7 seamstresses to keep up with the volume, but it's still not enough. By the time we get a script, have a meeting with the director and ADs, and start designing our builds, we have about four of five days to turn pieces over in the shop.
Costume shop and talented construction team - Reign - Costume designer Meredith Markworth Pollack
Our shop is so strong there's no way we could do what we do without them. I do repeat costumes but try not to do so too often because I know our viewers like their eye-candy. Since my busy schedule rarely allows me to leave the studio, I often shop on-line. Canadians think I'm crazy; it's just not a thing here. But coming from the states and loving sites like Net-A-Porter, Outnet, and Shopbop, I am constantly scouring the web for gowns, jewels, and shoes. Designer and couture gowns work so well on our leading ladies, especially Marchesa, McQueen, Valentino, D&G, but obviously we're on a budget- so I have to pick and choose carefully. There really is a vibrant, creative energy in our costume shop. There are 24 of us all together, plus specialty dailies that will help with breakdown, background, or sewing. It's a well oiled machine at this point!”
Fabric and built costume - Reign - Costume designer Meredith Markworth Pollack
Beaded fabric for new Mary cape (left). Vintage wedding dress ombre dyed for Princess Claude(right) Reign - Costume designer Meredith Markworth Pollack
T/S: I love the work you are doing, even though I was extremely skeptical at first. And I think there are many people married to historical accuracy that this show is simply not for. What do you say to people that disagree with the show’s approach or who don’t quite understand the purpose behind this type of hybrid? What do you think this style of costuming adds to a storyline that a ridged adherence to a specific time period would have missed? And what has creating this new language of storytelling been like for you as an artist?
MMP: “What I found interesting in the first reviews of Reign were some critics saying that we doubted the intelligence of our viewers, but that's not the case at all. It's actually the opposite. I like to think our viewers understand what we are creating- that we are not confined to the exact historical dress but find innovative ways to replicate the shapes and fabrics. It's very postmodern. There will always be haters, and I understand, like I said- it’s not for everyone. But it's also incredibly creative and innovative. Creating an Instagram for the costume shop has been so fulfilling. Fans are constantly reaching out and sharing their inspirations and personal takes on the costumes. That's what it's really about. Knowing that the look we have created inspires women and men alike to think outside the box and try new styles on themselves is truly rewarding.”
A huge thanks to Meredith and the team at The CW for their insight and images. I am truly impressed by the work they are producing, especially on such a challenging timetable. Season 1 of the series is currently available on Netflix, if you're brave enough to put your doubts aside and be taken a brave new
Reign airs on Wednesdays on M3 at 8 P.M. and Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.
In tonight's fall finale, Reign's royals will deal with the impact of the harrowing attack on the castle in last week's episode, which found Mary (Adelaide Kane) at the center of a controversial rape storyline after a failed assassination attempt on Francis (Toby Regbo). And showrunner Laurie McCarthy told E! News that the fallout from the shocking attack will affect many of The CW drama's relationships.
Here's what's ahead for some of Reign's major pairings in tonight's midseason finale and beyond. And yes, McCarthy confirmed that fans will see an open marriage this season. (Of course, she wouldn't divulge the couple.)
Mary and Francis:
When we spoke with McCarthy after the polarizing episode, she discussed the short and longterm impacts of Mary's rape, telling us, It's going to be hard for her to separate this night's events from the political turmoil that she feels Francis is somewhat responsible for and that is going to affect her marriage as deeply as her intimacy issues." As for Francis, she shared, "He's going to have a very harsh reaction, a very impulsive reaction to it. He's deeply pained by it and desperate to make things right."
Mary and Catherine:
To say the two Queens have shared a complex relationship is quite an understatement, but McCarthy said "their dynamic was shifting a little bit anyway" prior to their epic moment after Mary's assault. "She has come to admire Mary, she views her with great respect and after this, she's really going to feel a bond toward Mary."
But that doesn't mean Catherine will be making like Sears and showing off a softer side. "She's ruthless, she's cunning and she's protective of her own power and the power of her children," McCarthy said. "I wouldn't say that this is going to soften her character, but it's definitely paid off a dynamic between Catherine and Mary that has really become a familiar dynamic." (Plus, expect to see King Henry's ghostly return, which we exclusively reported, completely shake up things for Catherine.)
Lola and Lord Narcisse:
Obsessed with this unlikely-but-insanely-hot pairing? McCarthy is, too. "They're really fun. What I love about that dynamic is that she's really attracted to him and she'd very much like to explore a sexual relationship with him, but she's really wondering what kind of creepy things he's into! [Laughs.] There are many reasons not to go too far with Narcisse… she's both kind of appalled and intrigued and unnerved by him." Hey, different strokes and all that...
Bash and Kenna:
The fan-favorite couple has been put on the backburner in the first half of the season, but will play a major role when the show comes back in 2015. But be careful what you wish for, Bash and Kenna fans!
"They are two very different people who deeply love each other, but their differences are going to rise up. We have a new character coming to town in the form of Antoine (Conde's brother, played by Ben Aldridge), who's introduced in the 10th episode, and he's going to play a role in what will be a great test of their marriage. Kenna has a thing for kings; I think that won't go away."
Greer and Castleroy:
Expect to see major fallout for Greer and her Protestant husband after last week's attack on the castle. "We are tilting in the direction that inadvertently her husband donated money to a curse that wound up really damaging one of her closest friends and her Queen," McCarthy previews. "There are going to ramifications for that and they are going to be life-altering for Greer and Castleroy."
Reign airs tonight at 9 p.m. on The CW.
After a story leaked months ago that Reign was working on a rape storyline that involved Mary, fans immediately took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the idea. More than 1,000 viewers signed a petition hoping to stop the writers before they could film the scene. But in tonight’s penultimate episode, Mary was raped by a Protestant who entered the castle in a failed assassination attempt against Francis.
In a painful scene, one of the Protestants revealed himself to be the father of the minister who was murdered last week. And as payback, he decided to attack Mary while another guard held her down. As the title of the episode indicated, it was an act of war and one that will undoubtedly end with the Protestant’s death, particularly after Mary tasked Francis with the job of finding the men that did this to her.
But regardless of what happens next, we got Reign showrunner Laurie McCarthy on the phone to talk about the shocking twist and explain why the writers felt it was an important scene.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did the idea for Mary’s rape originate? LAURIE MCCARTHY: It really started from the end of last season when we made the choice to have Francis kill his father. Even though it was a righteous action, I always felt like it would be something that just had to haunt him, and we obviously played that in many different iterations. But it really felt like it should be something that should haunt his rule as well. It seemed like something that he couldn’t tell Mary, that he wouldn’t tell Mary, and then we looked at, “What if the wrong person found out and he became a compromised king and it made him make choices that he wouldn’t otherwise have made?” And then since we’re playing the civil unrest in the nation, which is historically accurate, we thought, “What could be one of the worst things that could happen that would really affect the person he loves the most?” And that’s Mary. So we looked at it originally through the prism of Francis, and then we looked at it through the prism of Mary, and I couldn’t imagine any other character—other than Catherine—who could experience something like this and that we would be able to then take on a journey of healing, somebody who could truly rise above this but who also would be in the worst possible situation to have something like this happen to her as a queen, as a woman, as a new wife.
I’ll admit that I didn’t want to watch the episode, but by the end of it, I thought that scene created such a great dramatic moment between Mary and Catherine, and I loved that it gave us a new angle on the life of a royal, of her having to put her country before herself.
Yeah. People here who have seen it in the editing room 100 times, there are people who cry during the scene between Mary and Catherine, but the scene that really gets me is when they have to sweep into the throne room and she has to play a role and put on a show. It’s excruciating. Could anything be more painful than to have to do something like that hours after you’ve been assaulted? These are [real] people, the royals, who experienced kidnappings and assassinations and there are many rumors as to whether Mary Queen of Scots was raped in her lifetime and frankly, how many times, so we’ve just kind of plucked events from history. But we’ve also looked at the rhythm of our stories, and we felt like it was the right time to do something really life-altering for her.
When this plot leaked a couple months ago, there was a lot of discussion about it on Twitter. Someone even started a small petition. Did that at all affect how you all handled this?
No, because we were always going to be incredibly careful about it. We were always going treat the storyline with the respect and dignity and time it deserved, not just in our attention to detail, but in terms of servicing it and honoring it for the rest of the season. It was something that we built up to from the end of last season, so I didn’t need to see a hashtag to make me think not just twice but maybe 100 times about whether or not this was the right thing to do. And there were many discussions in the writers room about it; there were discussions with the studio and the network; there were discussions with Adelaide Kane herself. It didn’t change anything. It made me upset that a storyline was leaked out of context. It didn’t surprise me or concern me that people said, “Please don’t do this.” It would really concern me if they said, “Please do.” Really, what are people going to say about a character that they love? I love her too. I do, I love her too! And I love her strength, but I also feel that the heart of this show really lies in how much power they have and how vulnerable they are.
Surely, some people will say, “Why couldn’t they have found another way to make Mary have this turning point in her life?” What do you say to them about why you chose to do it this way?
There are always other stories to tell and always other ways to go and we chose to tell this story. That’s the truth of it, and I’m sure we’ll tell those other ways moving forward. I think oftentimes what people actually mean when they say that is, “Could you have done it to another character and someone other than the lead of your show?” My response to that is, “Why is it okay for some other female character?” The waters get very muddy for me there. I think that the underlying question there is: Does something like this ruin a person? And I find that question really galling because I feel like, why should it ruin a person? It should ruin the person who did it. It should not ruin the character to whom it was done, and I’m very much looking forward to a story of seeing Mary find her strength again and find her sense of security and also her ability to love and experience intimacy again.
What were the discussions around how you wanted to film the scene?
I think we wanted to film it in a way that made it clear that this was happening. My other concern was that it was really portrayed as an act of violence. It was very important to me that it wasn’t eroticized in any way, shape, or form, that it really was an act of hatred and violence and really powerlessness and rage.
Moving forward, how will this change things for Mary and for the show in general?
It becomes a turning point for Mary. It becomes a turning point for her and her relationship with Francis; we’ll see them struggle to get past it, but it really is going to change everything. She’s somebody who was aware of the threats to her before, but she’s going to feel very vulnerable for the rest of the season. And then what they do in response to this, what the king and the queen of France, Mary and Francis, do in response to this, it’s going to really affect their rule moving forward.
I feel like what I’m happy about is that what comes out of that episode is really this deep bonding between Mary and Catherine. To be honest, that’s the thing that gives me tears and a knot in my throat is the two of them shouldering the trials and tribulations of their situations together.
Anything else you want to add?
We really felt like it was an incredibly moving, shocking story and it would really give our lead character a journey that she could go on and a path, at the end of which, she will succeed.
Reign airs on Wednesdays on M3 at 8 P.M. and Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.
Unfortunately, actor Jonathan Keltz is forever holding his peace about tonight’s nuptials, though he’s already hinted that the wedding might not go down as expected.
Below, Keltz takes TVLine into Leith’s pre-wedding headspace, weighs the possible outcomes of Greer’s big day and previews the star-crossed lovers’ future at French Court.
TVLINE - I’ve got to say, I’m not thrilled about the way Greer and Leith’s relationship has progressed. (Laughs) There have been some hiccups. It’s been a bumpy road of love, that’s for sure.
TVLINE - Am I foolish for holding out hope this week, that he might stop her wedding?
This episode finds a lot of their relationship drama come to a head. The dynamic between (Leith, Greer and Castleroy) is very tricky. Is Greer going to follow her heart and go with Leith, or is she going to stick with security — not just for herself, but also for her family? Or is it possible, as she claimed in the last episode, to have that love and passion with Castleroy? Or is it something she’s just forcing herself to feel?
TVLINE - That’s so many possibilities.
I mean, at this point, Leith Bayard is pretty exhausted.
Reign Greer WeddingTVLINE - And there’s more than just feelings to consider; there’s also that whole political/religious mess, right?
Yes, and what happens in this episode is a huge catalyst for the rest of the season. This launches the tension between the Protestants and the Catholics. There’s a violent beginning, and you’ll see what that means and what that says about how Francis is going to be as a king and how his subjects are going to feel about the Nobles. Who’s going to side with whom? Leith, Greer and Castleroy find themselves in the middle of all of that.
TVLINE - Let’s say Leith fails, and Greer marries Castleroy, what’s next for him? Who is Leith outside of that relationship?
It is true that my character’s journey has always revolved around Greer, and regardless of anything, we’re all going to stay at the castle. Although there is a massive circle of people we’re running in, (Leith and Greer's) paths will continue to cross. There’s no way they won’t. I’m now working with Bash … and I’m a hand of the king, so I’m by Francis’ side and she’s by Mary’s side. No matter what, we will always have to be with each other, always on opposite sides of the dance floor.
If you watch Reign, chances are you love Queen Catherine, perhaps the most badass mother-in-law of all time. Portrayed by Megan Follows(Anne of Green Gables), Catherine serves as equal parts adversary and mentor to Mary, who's still figuring out what it really means to be a queen. I chatted with the actress about Catherine's motivations, the murdered King Henry, Nostradamus, and growing up in a haunted house; here's what she had to say.
Last season you were the Big Bad, but fans really embraced the character of Catherine. Why do you think fans are so sympathetic to this serial killer villain figure?: (Laughs) You’re being a little harsh. Well, I think because she’s fiercely loyal to her position, for one thing, but her children, to Francis. And she’s not someone who’s evil because she’s bored, for the sake of doing something. She’s deeply rooted in her convictions—even if they’re off-base, or even if you don’t agree with them. And I think that’s what makes her an interesting character... and far more dangerous. She’s also fun. I’m lucky because the way they write here, there’s a playfulness, and that’s engaging.
Totally! Last season there was a jaw-dropping scene where Catherine faked a hanging. What was that like? How did that go?
You had to have trust in the people who were holding the rope for you. I was, as always, impressed with Catherine’s wiles because she found a way to get out of her predicament, so it was a blast. The stunt coordinator had the whole thing rigged up... you knew you needed to be very nice or they could just let it slip! (laughs) No, they’d never do that.
When you first landed the role of Catherine de’ Medici, did you try to research her history or did you want to approach her as your own character?
Well I definitely did some research on her, I read some biographies, and she is an extraordinary and fascinating woman in a challenging political time, in a time of deep unrest, so there was that. And then there was obviously the style of the show we were doing, and the marrying of those two worlds and ultimately honoring our show, and the creators, and what they wanted this piece to be.
Last episode we saw King Henry come back as a ghost, and Reign has been playing with the supernatural and bringing it in around the edges of the show. Have you ever had a real-life experience with a ghost? (Laughs) No. I can’t say that I have. But I’ve certainly... I think in the house that I grew up in, everyone else seemed to have an experience with seeing ghosts. Maybe they were cutting me some slack!
Wait, did you grow up in a haunted house?
The house that I grew up in had been, at one point, they had used it as a nursing home. So I think perhaps there were a few spirits floating around.
Any chance King Henry might return in a ghostly fashion?
That’s a very interesting question. I know very little in advance, but I found it fascinating with Francis being haunted... [[[King Henry]] is] certainly an imposing figure. And there’s a lot of unresolved issues, whether he’s your husband or your father, to be haunted by.
You’ve done a lot of theater work (like, uh Chekov!). Do you bring theatrical training to Catherine, or is television work just completely different?
There’s a huge difference in the process between the two crafts. Stagecraft is a very different process, you have more time to spend on scenes and it’s an accumulative and potentially safer environment in the rehearsal process, but then you’re completely exposed. Television is very different, but ultimately a good character is a good character. Though the techniques are very different, you still want something authentic. The end result is something that can be engaged in by an audience.
We recently lost Nostradamus. Are he and Catherine going to meet again?
I don’t know the answer to that question. I hope so. I’m sure he has every reason to be wary of his friendship with me! But I loved the dynamic of Catherine and Nostradamus.
Obviously, the costumes on Reign are gorgeous. Do you have a favorite among the ones you’ve worn so far?
There’s one coming up that I just loved, coming up in the next episode, with these beautiful red flowers embroidered on black. Although I have to say I thought I looked pretty damn sharp in that first episode, standing on the balcony with Mary in gold and black. I always get the cloaks and the capes, and it was very sharp and the shoulders were very striking. I do feel very spoiled with my clothes.
Do you ever get to loan them out? Take a cape for the weekend?
No, they haven’t let us do that yet.
“Catherine wants to exude a lot of stability by indulging in quite a showy Coronation, even though we’re up against the critical situation with food shortages and political unrest,” Megan Follows explains. “Francis and Mary aren’t impressed by her impressive display of showmanship; she believes that, even if you’re in serious trouble, you don’t let anyone know that.”
TVLINE - Catherine and Mary’s dynamic has taken a serious turn this season. How would you describe their relationship now, and where is it headed?
As soon as Francis becomes King, Mary becomes Queen, which means Catherine’s suddenly in no-man’s land. She’s figuring out what her power base is now. In the first episode, we faced something greater than even our political challenges, which was the plague. So we sort of had to come together, even though we have very different ways of solving our problems.
TVLINE - I did like seeing Mary and Catherine on the thrones together, though. It worked for me. (Laughs) I know, I loved that! I thought that was great.
TVLINE - Last week, Catherine finally talked about my favorite character, Clarissa. Is there more to that story?
I’m not sure, I honestly don’t know. But I think bringing up Clarissa was more about the ghosts in the closet, this idea of unresolved business. I haven’t seen her yet, but I found it very intriguing that we had a conversation about her.
TVLINE - Now that you’ve said the g-word, is there any chance Catherine will be haunted by Henry’s ghost, like Francis?
I do know that Catherine is definitely haunted by her own ghosts, which were somewhat of a surprise to me. There’s a new family member coming back to the castle, Francis’ sister, my daughter, Claude. Along with her, a lot of history gets stirred up.
TVLINE - And how is Catherine’s relationship with Claude, compared to with Clarissa? Better? (Laughs) I hope it’s better! It’s completely different. With Clarissa, I had no idea she was still in the world and I was horrified by her; she was something I was trying to hide. Claude is quite rebellious, so I think there will be a much more recognizable parent-child relationship than with Clarissa and Catherine.
TVLINE - And where do things stand between Catherine and Nostradamus now? I miss their old dynamic.
I loved their dynamic, too. Right now, I think Nostradamus is probably a little angry at her for not coming to his rescue. For now, I think he’s seeking asylum as far away from Catherine as possible. But I hope he can forgive her because I miss him already.
TVLINE - Were you surprised when he showed up clean-shaven for Season 2?
Yes, I was! There’s a baby face under all that fur.
TVLINE - I feel like Catherine’s been without a lover for far too long. When is that going to change?
I am not sure, and I’m not even being coy. You’ll see Narcisse and Catherine have some exchanges, because I think they’re far more similar in their character. They’re both pretty ruthless. But I’m not sure what’s happening there; I guess they’re saving her for someone very special.
TVLINE - Well, yeah, someone worthy of being with her.
Exactly! It can’t just be anybody, and we know what happened to the last poor bugger who ended up in my chamber.
TVLINE - I know we met Narcisse last week, but in your own words, can you introduce us to him?
He’s incredibly rich, richer than the royals. He runs France quietly behind the scenes. When Henry was king, Narcisse worked with him, funded him, kept the crown going. He’s used to real, quiet power. He enters a new Court with the old king dead, and I think he sees the need to teach this boy how to be a king, how to run things the way he wants them to be run.
TVLINE - And he’s no fan of Mary’s.
Oh, of course. His child has just been murdered by Mary, so there’s a very personal agenda going on as well. The new queen is in his sights.
TVLINE - Narcisse is being described as the “big bad” this season. Is that fair?
I wouldn’t say he’s a villain, exactly. The lovely thing about this show is that every script adds a new layer to this person. He definitely does monstrous things and has no guilt about doing what’s necessary, but there’s also a very human side to him. You never quite know how genuine he’s being. He’s a very good liar.
TVLINE - I’m told told Narcisse has a healthy sexual appetite. Can you confirm?
He definitely has a heart, and he’s looking for a woman that he can love and who can love him. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of scar tissue and monstrous behavior in his past, so the woman he’s going to find that with is going to have to be rather extraordinary. It’s fascinating what happens when his heart is revealed. Right now, he’s having an interesting time with one of the wonderful actresses on the show. It’s odd; it involves a lot of bathing, which is all I can say.
TVLINE - You sound like you’re describing Catherine to a T. What can we expect from those two?
Well, there is a relationship there between Narcisse and Catherine. They’ve known each other for years, they’ve seen each other do terrible things and they know the other is a shark — but there’s an attraction there, as well. (Megan Follows and I) had a number of scenes together when we were on location in Ireland, and we were holding looks and trying to throw as much as we could toward the writers for them to pick up on. I think that relationship will develop, but I’m not quite sure how. I’m not sure how twisted and awful and monstrous and wrong it may be, but it will definitely be fun. They’re like two velociraptors; it’s going to be glorious.
Don’t be fooled by the cuteness of Francis and Lola’s baby; that thing is trouble. “As the season progresses, having the child around becomes more of an unspoken pressure for Mary as she fails to conceive,” Adelaide Kane says. “It’s a glaring reminder of her failing in what is essentially her only duty as a queen, which is to bear sons and continue the succession. The longer that takes, the more heavily it’s going to weigh on her and become a divisive factor in her relationship with Francis. … If they ever stop sharing a bed, there’s trouble on the horizon.”
MO KASH, MO ‘PROBLEMS’:
Expect big things — but not always good things — from Bash in Season 2. “He will eventually become the King’s Deputy, the strongman for the king, which is a great position if the king is doing really well,” Laurie McCarthy explains. “But if the king is making mistakes and you’re the muscle for those mistakes, it can be really dangerous.” As for what’ll happen between Bash and Kenna, McCarthy says the same qualities we love about Kenna — she’s “lovely, charming, warm (and) incredibly ambitious” — will also “cause some problems” for them down the line.
Speaking of Bash, are you wondering why he was the one to see that ghost in the premiere? McCarthy chalks it up to his exhaustion and the fact that his paganism leaves him more open to suggestion. That said, the ghost’s warning is not to be taken lightly. “The land is unstable, and people who have gotten away with murder might not get away with it for so long,” she says. (Heads up, Francis and Catherine!)
The premiere’s two newcomers, Louis Condé and Lord Narcisse, will find themselves heavily involved in the Catholic-Protestant tension this season — but that’s not all! “You’ll see some surprising pairings this season,” McCarthy says in regards to the new additions. “Conde really doesn’t have a problem being with married women … and Narcisse has a surprising sexuality to him. … Catherine’s going to have a lover, too.” (Hmm…)
Apparently tricking Catherine into thinking she has the plague was just the beginning of Mary’s evolution into, essentially, Catherine 2.0. “It’s nice to see her flip it on Catherine for once,” Kane says. “That was a very Catherine thing to do, and I like that Mary starts taking on more of those manipulative Catherine-esque elements; almost without realizing it, she’s becoming more and more like Catherine.” (Now that‘s scary!)
Two ladies in waiting — Lola and Greer — remain unmarried, and although McCarthy won’t reveal who will be heading down the aisle, she promises we “will see a wedding this season.” (Any guesses?)
A CLOSE SHAVE: Nostradamus’ beard was, of course, the premiere’s most shocking casualty, and while it wasn’t directly addressed in the episode, McCarthy says she originally planned to give it a proper send-off. “We had a line in there, and we took it out, where he had wisely made himself clean shaven to show everybody, ‘I don’t have the plague. … No sores here!'” she explains. Apparently, the actor (Rossif Sutherland) had to ditch his face fur for another role.
With Yvette Castleroy now out of the way (RIP!), Leith has found himself a free man — but don’t expect Greer to break off her engagement to Lord Castleroy anytime soon. No matter how much she loves him, “the fear of being a ruined woman has ramifications,” McCarthy explains. And that fear is “going to loom large for her for some time.”
And baby makes… four? Yes, Francis is facing a complicated — not to mention deadly — future when Reign returns Thursday and star Toby Regbo says we’ll be lucky if the young king doesn’t go “completely mental” in Season 2. (Like father, like son, right?)
“I’m on my way to meet my baby that’s just been given birth to by my wife’s best friend, so it’s a rather convoluted and complex relationship that I’ve been thrown into at the last minute,” Regbo admits. “Coupled with that, there’s the plague that’s ravaging the land, so it’s pretty messy.”
TVLINE: Will Francis be a hands-on dad? I’m trying to picture him changing diapers and it’s not working.
At first, he sort of just can’t understand why it’s crying and he doesn’t know what to do with it. There are nannies to handle that sort of thing. … But when he first comes into contact with the child, he immediately has a bond with it. Natural instincts take over.
TVLINE: Catherine seems worried that Lola could disrupt Francis’ marriage. Does he really still have feelings for her?
In the first episode, he does say, “I know you, Lola. We shared more than a bed in Paris.” So there is still a connection of sorts there.
TVLINE: Have you worked with a baby before? (Laughs) No, never! On day one, they just bring you this baby — the mother of the child just hands it over to you — and I’d never even held one before. They change them a lot, though. It’s a pretty good environment to bring your child to; they’re very well looked after, and there are doctors around in case anything baby-ish happens to them. One of the babies we had in one of the scenes was less than 13 days old, which is insanely young to be around a camera crew. It looked like a tiny, old, red man. It wasn’t ready to be out in the world yet.
TVLINE: That baby’s mother must have had to sign a contract before it was even born!
I think they do that! (The producers) track the pregnancy towards the end and say, “We’ll be wanting a baby soon, so hurry up and get it out of you. Get rolling!”
TVLINE: Those interactions probably come off looking pretty authentic, though, since Francis is also totally new to the baby world.
Yeah, it’s really amazing. They want to use the actual babies as little as possible, because you have a very limited amount of time to shoot with them before they need a break. So anytime the baby is out of the shot, we use a doll, and it’s so strange how much of a difference it makes having an actual child there. So much of acting is reacting, having real moments between two people or whatever. But when you have a baby thrown into the mix, which is totally unpredictable because it doesn’t know where it is or what’s going on, it’s like a little bundle of joy. There’s a shot of me looking down at the child in the first episode and they asked me, “Do you mind if we used the doll?” and I was like, “Actually, yes, I do mind. I want this to be a moment where I’m not looking at a Satanic baby doll!”
TVLINE: Speaking of baby dolls, how’s Francis’ relationship with Bash in Season 2?
Well, now that I’m the king, I’m surrounded by people who want to stab me in the back, blackmail me, abuse me and all that. I thought that when I became king, I could just roam around the land kicking peasants’ heads off, but apparently I’m not allowed to do that. It’s not an all-powerful position; there are people with more money, resources and brains that I need. Having someone like Bash around, who I can trust, is great. I make him my right-hand man, someone who I can trust not to go behind my back — except for that one time he did that one thing behind my back, but he was trying to protect me.
TVLINE: Francis also makes a new friend in Season 2 — Conde, I believe. What’s he all about?
He’s my cousin, funnily enough. His first line is that we are very far removed, and Sean Teale — the actor who plays him — is Venezuelan. So there’s a very tenuous link. In real life, I’ve known Sean for 11 years; we went to school together. It’s strange that this person I knew in school has popped up in this totally separate bit of my life. We meet him in Episode 1 when he protects me and Lola from the plague, and we take him back to the castle. I tell him, “You can rest here for a night,” and he ends up staying for ages. He turns out to be a loyal and useful asset, though there is a tenuous power thing going on; he has links with Protestantism, and I’m the king of a Catholic country. As the season progresses, I think that will become a problem between them.
TVLINE: Lastly, I know Francis doesn’t want to be anything like his father. How can he hope to make that happen?
That’s a big thing for him in Season 2. When he brings the child back to Mary, he doesn’t know what role it’ll take at Court, but he wants to be a part of his son’s life. He uses Bash as an example; Henry didn’t give him a title or standing and that really hurt him. Francis doesn’t want that to be the case for his son. And on a personal level, just not going insane (like Henry) — trying to keep his feet on the ground without going completely mental.
The talented Torrance Coombs opens up to JJJ about tonight’s season two premiere of Reign in this brand new interview!
The 31-year-old Canadian actor talks to us about Bash’s mission to “maintain order among the chaos” in wake of The Plague that sweeps the castle.
Meanwhile Torrance also teases some brotherly moments ahead, as Francis (Toby Regbo) begins to lean on Bash even more amid pressures of being king. Check it out!
JustJaredJr.com: With the arrival of the plague, is it safe to say everyone is in danger? Torrance Coombs: Yeah, certainly everyone is in danger. If not from the plague then from the devious people trying to take advantage of the plague/hide their crimes. With Francis being out of the castle, Bash is very directly responsible for all the stuff that’s going down in the castle. He’s just trying to maintain order among the chaos. We have these “plague rooms” and we have to put 10 people in these rooms, and maybe the wrong people are in the rooms. Or maybe you put un-sick people in the room and then they get sick. Sometimes you’re just going to come into contact with some sick people, and you have to hope for the best.
JJJ: Because he was warned about it and killed The Darkness anyway, is Bash feeling any guilt? TC: Yeah, that’s an interesting thing because on the one hand, how stupid is it to think the guy doing a blood sacrifice could cause the plague. The idea that Bash killing The Darkness would cause the plague is ludicrous, but at the same time, it just happened. So we got a character who has always been a skeptic. The Darkness is just a guy spreading fear. And with Clarissa, for example, it turns out she’s not just haunting the castle, she’s Catherine’s daughter. She’s disfigured and we explained it all. But now, what’s happening is the skeptic is starting to become a bit of a believer. With all these dead souls around the castle, it starts to become haunted by various apparitions. Are these fever dreams? Are these all in people’s heads as they are affected with the plague. Or are the real? Are they restless spirits that came back to seek vengeance? So that transition from skeptic to believer is something that happens with Bash this season.
JJJ: With Francis gone and this hysteria going on, does Mary lose control of everything? TC: Francis just learned that he has a baby, so that’s a lot for him to deal with. And yeah, Mary is obviously very worried about him, but at the moment, she doesn’t really have a lot of control over what’s going on. So it’s up to Bash to look after the castle for a bit.
JJJ: Does Mary lean on Bash at all?
TC: You know what? Not particularly. But Francis starts to lean very heavily on Bash, to the point that he’s like his deputy, to help him with some of the dirty business he can’t carry out himself – and to be his eyes and ears on the ground, and watch his back.
JJJ: We saw a nice hug between Francis and Bash in the finale. Will we see more brotherly bonding moments ahead? TC: Yeah, I’ll go ahead and spoil that, yeah. Francis needs to trust Bash with his life. He doesn’t have a lot of friends to turn to that he can really, truly trust. And especially if these powerful nobles start to rise up and take advantage of the situation. Francis is trying to be a good king. He has strong ideas of how he wants to be different than his father, but he quickly realizes that once you’re in power, there are deals that have to be brokered with various underhanded people So Bash is there to help him deal with those a–holes.
JJJ: Does Henry’s death still weight heavily on him? TC: Yes, and that is a huge secret that carries. Because regicide is the worst crime that he can possibly commit. He can’t tell Mary because she would be implicated and he has to be very, very careful with that secret. He has to decide whether to carry that burden himself or whether to reveal it to someone. And that’s a big part of Francis’ journey.
JJJ: We saw Bash and Kenna share “I love you’s” in the finale. Where to we find them in the premiere? TC: They get separated when the plague breaks out. It’s scary business. They don’t feel particularly safe, but they are still very much in love. Things are going well with their relationship. Going forward, it’s hard to say. But they’re still somewhat incompatible personalities. Bash’s business with Francis means he has to secretly run off into the woods for weeks at a time. He’s not really allowed to tell Kenna his affairs at stake and what he’s up to. Meanwhile, Kenna still has ambitions for fancier things. That could be cause to reconcile.
JJJ: What is Catherine up to during all of this? TC: She is still exercising her influence. She doesn’t like not having any real power, so she just has to be sneakier about it. She’s still a very powerful woman. And she’s a master manipulator, so we still get to see a lot of scheming Catherine. She just can’t command guards to behead somebody anymore. But it’s that thing where she likes to offer a lot of motherly advice to Mary. It’s that thing where somebody takes your old job. “That’s how you’re going to do that? That’s not how I would have done it.” So we see that dynamic well.
JJJ: If you could give Bash any piece of advice going into season two, what would it be? TC: I would tell him that things aren’t morally as black and white as he wants them to be. That sometimes there are gray areas that maybe he should anticipate a little better. It’s not always good versus evil, or right and wrong. I think he just needs to understand shades of gray a little better.
TheWrap's “Drinking With the Stars - Adelaide KaneEdit
"I really want her to just pitch a fit"
—Adelaide Kane's advice to Mary Stuart
|CW's “Reign” has Mary ruling France without husband Francis and her portrayer Adelaide Kane is pretty upset about it.
During interview for a new episode of TheWrap‘s Drinking With the Stars, Adelaide Kane revealed that Mary will always try to do the right thing, but the fact that Francis (Toby Regbo) now has an illegitimate child with her lady-in-waiting Lola (Anna Popplewell) will be a source of tension for the newly-crowned rulers of France.
“It's pretty much her only job, to get pregnant and have babies,” Kane said of Mary's royal duties. “Having the baby around is almost rubbing her nose in the fact that she hasn't had a child yet, and that's going to be very painful for her.”
Meanwhile, Mary hasn't forgotten about what led to this whole mess in the first place — Francis and Lola sleeping together. “She's trying to make the best of it with Lola, Lola's still her friend,” said Kane. “It's been brought up with Francis once or twice, but I think there's still a conversation that needs to happen. Maybe a few glasses should be thrown and a casual slap across the face is required. She hasn't blown up about it yet and I really want her to!”
Mary's unrelenting nobleness in the face of all adversity has Kane wanting the queen of France and Scotland to blow off some steam. “I want to break something,” Kane joked. “Everyone else gets to break things and I never get to break anything … I want to have an episode where she's channeling Queen Catherine (Megan Follows) and is all sassy.”
Kane also discussed what she calls the show's “stealth feminism,” by referring to the checklist which highlights gender bias in media.
“We pass the Bechdel test almost every week!” she cheered. “Not many shows can do that, not many movies can do that, full stop. We get a lot of flack for being, essentially, a costume melodrama — we're a little soapy and campy, which is okay, I love it — but I have to say we're like a stealth feminist show. We also have really healthy, normalized versions of female sexuality.”
The show is also known for scenes of Mary taking charge and Francis taking a back seat, which Kane revealed she's discovered fans are really into. “There are a couple of great gifsets on Tumblr of those scenes,” she laughed. “Where Francis is like ‘So turned on right now.’ Every time Mary exercises her power, Francis is so into it! He's like, ‘Yeah, that's my woman!'”
Reign airs every Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on M3, and Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
Real Style: Tell us about Season 2 of Reign. Jonathan Keltz: It is definitely a darker season. The season picks up right off where we left off and the plague has come to France and is leaving no prisoners. It is definitely a chaotic and turbulent time and that’s where we begin and then things spiral out of control. Nobody is safe. It is an enemy that unites us all. It is a common enemy, but we still find ways to poke and prod at each other as well. [For Season 2] I’m more tied down to the show and there’s more of the character versus less, so it’s a good thing.
Real Style: How does Leith change this season? Jonathan Keltz: I can’t get into too much detail, but the season ended with me gaining land and money and the beginnings of some wealth. I’m maintaining my friendship to the new King of France. This new relationship that’s budding with Yvette Castleroy, we’ll see what happens there. I’m still unaware that’s she the daughter of the man who’s the fiancee of the one I was formerly in love with. It’s a bit of a tricky moment and this new relationship will be put to the test. The old relationships and whether or not that’s true love will be put to the test as well.
Real Style: Greer could possibly be in your future? Jonathan Keltz: Greer could possibly be in my future. How far Yvette Castleroy and I get could change things as well in terms of who gets married, when they get married, who gets married to whom.
Real Style: What was it like kissing Celina Sinden (Greer) Jonathan Keltz: Ha! There’s never anything wrong with working with a wonderful actor or actress. Yeah, it was lovely getting to do all the romance stuff. We had some really lovely scenes. We were actually just talking about it last night. One of our favourite scenes that we’ve ever shot was the first date scene that we had. It was a really sweet and lovely candlelit date and it was the first day I was shooting on the show and it was a lot of fun. There was just something really charming about the way it all went by. We’re both in relationships and thankfully both of the people we’re in relationships with are actors so they understand and they have to do scenes like that as well.
Real Style: What’s your favourite part of working on Reign? Jonathan Keltz: We have a really fun cast and a really great relationship between us all. Getting to escape into that world is the most fun. I love just hanging out at the studio. We have these unbelievable castle sets that the detailing is amazing. The crew and the art department and the wardrobe department; everyone in makeup and hair has all done a fantastic job. You’re walking down the halls and you look up and there’s all this detailed painting in the ceilings. In the days when we’re out of the studio I get to ride a horse through the woods and charge around on missions.
Real Style: You would never guess that it was shot in Toronto. Jonathan Keltz: You would never guess. Now we do shoot in Ireland, but we have a studio that we shoot at and we built a courtyard and a village set in the back-lot of the studio, so there is some outdoor stuff [in Toronto]. We shoot in a lot of conservation areas or ruins and old churches on the outskirts of Toronto.
Real Style: What’s your favourite part about Toronto? Jonathan Keltz: I love Toronto. It’s a really great city. It’s a really eclectic city where you can get whatever you ant out of it. I really loved being here for TIFF this year and being immersed in it. I’d say that right now my favourite thing would be the summer we’ve been having. It’ll get a little bit more brutal and unforgiving in a couple months but it’s the end of summer that’s really my favourite time.
Real Style: What are your plans when you’re done shooting Reign? Jonathan Keltz: I’m hoping to do some feature stuff during the hiatus – fingers crossed we get picked up for a third season. We’ll be starting up again first week of July so it’s not a lot of time to squeeze something in and try to get some vacay as well. My girlfriend’s family is Brazilian and we’re hoping to sneak down to Brazil for my first time during the hiatus.
Real Style: That would be nice. Jonathan Keltz: That would be nice indeed. Dream scenario: shoot an awesome movie with the newly married George Clooney and then go tromp around Brazil for a bit with the love of my life. Nothing wrong with that.
On Reign, the lush, creative costuming - which evokes everything from historical portraiture to Alexander McQueen's couture to Stevie Nicks's witchy wardrobe - is almost as engrossing as the show's courtly drama.
An unmistakable combination of historical dress and contemporary high fashion, Reign's outfits (especially the outfits worn by Mary, Queen of Scots, and her ladies-in-waiting) help mark the show as one of the most distinct period dramas out there.
I asked Reign wardrobe designer Meredith Markworth-Pollack how she developed the series' unique take on Renaissance style, what elements make a dress fit for a (TV) queen - and whether any of the show's looks will be showing up in a mall near you any time soon.
TV Fanatic: How did you develop Reign's unique, specific fashion look? What were the inspirations? Meredith Markworth-Pollack: From the beginning, the show's creators and producers wanted a unique approach to the historical dress of the period, in the sense that they wanted a fresh take on the costumes. Something their younger, female-oriented audience could relate to and even achieve on their own. They were not concerned with the proper historical accuracies of the times - which actually made the look harder to create.
There were no rules or boundaries. I had to set them. I started with mood boards for each character, with both historical and contemporary images. I wanted the show to look like a painting, with each character complimenting the next. I knew the only way to do this, especially with using contemporary pieces, was to keep a rich yet muted palette. Any synthetic colors or textures would take the viewer out of the world we created.
TVF: Do you feel like designing for a period drama aimed at a younger audience is different than designing for a period drama with an older viewer in mind? MM-P: In the instance of Reign and a network like the CW, yes, it is a different approach designing for a younger audience than an older audience. If the show was on a different network--a cable one for example, with an older demographic--then I would imagine we would have gone in a more historically accurate direction. But that was never what Reign was; it was always an innovative, soapy, teen drama with a contemporary feel, not only in the costumes but in the dialogue, music, and tone.
TVF: What parts of designing for a period-specific show are more fun than designing for a show set in the modern day? What parts are more difficult? MM-P: Well, with a period show, you can't run out to the mall to grab multiple shirts or dresses like you can for a contemporary show. Everything has to be thought out and created in advance. Last-minute changes have to proven to be very difficult. This definitely makes it more complicated and elaborate than a contemporary show, but at the same time more rewarding, because you are able to actually design and build pieces.
TVF: How did you decide exactly how historically accurate to make the show's look? What inspired you to keep some genuine Renaissance fashion elements, and discard others in place of more modern elements? MM-P: I wanted the characters to have a more relaxed and casual vibe in their clothes than they actually did in the times. We achieved this by getting rid of ruffs for the women, loosening their silhouettes, and only using corsets when needed. I kept similar fabrics and textures to allude to the palette of the time. Brocades, beaded silks, laces and metallics have been hugely successful for this.
TVF: Which (if any) modern-day designers do you take inspiration from when designing--especially when designing the dresses for Mary and the Ladies.
MM-P: The contemporary designers I currently follow for their aesthetic are Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta, and Temperley. They've all accomplished a "regal" theme within the past couple seasons that I find perfect for Reign. Every now and then I can afford to buy one of their dresses for the show, but for the most part I turn to them for inspiration.
TVF: Any chance you'll do a line of Reign-inspired fashion for the public, a la the Pretty Little Liars collection?
MM-P: I would love to do a line for Reign, ideally something for Prom or a bridal collection. There are many young women asking the same thing! I think some Reign headpieces would be great as well.