The Borgias Q&A: David Oakes On Juan Borgia's End & What's To Come In The Season 2 Finale
“The Borgias” said goodbye to one of the family last Sunday, when Juan met his end at the hand of his brother Cesare.
And although he may have been quite the wicked son – dangling his sister’s baby over the balcony, and attempting to have his way with an innocent young lady last week – don’t expect Juan’s death to pass without consequences, as British actor David Oakes hinted when he spoke with AccessHollywood.com ahead of this Sunday’s Season 2 finale on Showtime.
AccessHollywood.com: As far as death scenes go, were you pleased with how Juan Borgia went out?
David Oakes: I kind of see his death as a three-episode death. I don’t see it as that final thing. By the time that Cesare gets to actually stab him in the stomach a few times, he’s kind of already gone. (laughs). He doesn’t pose much of a threat to anyone… Certainly, with that final episode, they tried to get me to play Juan as villainous as I possibly could, hence the Michael Jackson baby dangling scene, and the attempted rape scene… to make him seem like a terribly bad person — because who bullies a baby and who rapes a virgin in a beautiful dress, I mean that’s awful. But, by that stage, I mean, he’s muttering to himself… The scene with his penis has always been one of the fondest ones. I remember at one stage they were trying to cut that and I was like, ‘No way. You’re in no way cutting out the monologue between me and my member.’ But in in terms of a death scene, it was a good ‘un.
Access: He didn’t have a long time left in the world… Juan was decaying from the wound in the battle at Caterina Sforza’s and due to his sexual exploits over the years…
David: The syphilis, the gangrene, the general mental decay is vast… I think what was interesting for me, that final scene, Cesare doesn’t really say anything, so you’re kind of left open to wondering what his motives are for doing it because, by that stage, unless you really hate Juan, you’ve got to pity him to a certain extent… It’s kind of like his confession scene. It’s his one chance to unburden his soul and he’s nice. He forgives people. He says he’s been in pain all this time, he notices when everyone else is concerned about him and their own hurting and their own pain. It proves that he’s sort of self-aware and probably hasn’t had the best life, so it kind of makes it even worse that he gets killed. It makes it much more of an interesting death in terms of what it leaves behind in the set up for the rest of the show, as opposed to necessarily the grand nature of his death.
Access: Will we get to see you in the final episode, because in the world of television, people can come back as ghosts and haunt people?
David: There have been dream sequences in previous episodes of ‘The Borgias’… You will definitely see my decaying corpse in Episode 10. But as it stands, I can’t imagine Juan will be coming back to ‘The Borgias’ unless they really run out of ideas for Season 3. But I’m sure that won’t happen… I’ve always imagined like Cesare having a little Juan dressed as angel on one shoulder and a Juan dressed as a devil on the other, sort of egging him on, so who knows, Season 3 could be a comic music version of ‘The Borgias.’
Access: So what’s to come in the season finale this weekend?
David: There is another key event, involving another key character, I think if you’ve been watching the series, you can probably predict what that’s going to be… It’s a good season finale. They wouldn’t have killed me off in Episode 9, if there wasn’t enough to do in the final episodes.
Access: Are you talking about Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander possibly getting poisoned?
David: Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? This show being a Jeremy Irons show, I would be very surprised if the final great moment doesn’t involve him in some massive way.
Access: Is it true you’re doing a cameo in ‘World Without End,’ [the sequel to ‘Pillars of the Earth’]?
David: Yep. That is true.
Access: The drama is set several generations later.
David: Yeah, it’s a couple hundred years. I play this bishop. It’s kind of important as a plot device, so I won’t tell you exactly what he does, but it’s great fun. I went over to the old set which we built for ‘Pillars’ and you see me in silhouette, sitting on a chair looking like Stavro Blofeld from the James Bond film as if I’m stroking a cat within my lap. It was great fun. It was a really good laugh. It was nice of them to ask. Hopefully it won’t ruin the illusion of the narrative for people watching it who will just go, ‘Oh my God! It’s the evil guy from the first one.’
Access: When did you realize you were good at playing the bad guy people end up feeling empathy for? Certainly you feel an empathy for Juan by the time he meets his end in ‘The Borgais,’ even after all the dastardly things he’s done.
David: At drama school, all I did was play the good guys because I had floppy hair and a nice voice. All I did was play Shakespearian romantic leads, which was great, and then did a thing called ‘Trinity’ over here, where I played a psychopathic gay rower with an implant in his right butt cheek, and he wasn’t bad, he did some bad things. He beat up a guy for no reason, but he was just insecure and corrupted mentally. He was psychotic basically, and from that then ‘Pillars of the Earth’ came around and it kind of came from that. But I apply the same things that I did when I was playing a romantic lead, into playing a bad guy. If you’re playing a soppy guy, who’s just nice, and you play him with heartfelt emotion and truth, then you’ll fall in love with him. I play these bad guys with the same sort of heartfelt emotion and a sense of desire and passion, but the thing is, I’m just doing nasty things. So I hope that by doing that, there’s a great sense of realism to the character as opposed to being a sadomasochistic rapist or whatever it is I’m playing. But I think they’re a lot more fun to do. It’s that clash of ideas and expectations in the audiences that are nice to sort of fiddle with, but that said, I can’t wait to do a rom-com.
Access: You’re like, ‘Cameron Diaz, get over here!’
David: Yeah, it would be great fun. I’ve still got the floppy hair, I still speak well, so why not. I reckon I could nice things again.
Access: You’ve got a cute little Twitter account — @David_Oakes. It’s very sentimental. Tell me about this baseball cap you Tweeted about losing that you used to bring to all your sets?
David: It was kind of like a green corduroy New York Yankee baseball cap. Now, I don’t really support New York Yankees, it was just – I can’t remember what shop it was, but it was down in Bath when I was filming my first telly job, called ‘Bonekickers’ and I lost it. I don’t know where it is. I think I lost it whilst I was riding, which is a shame, so if anyone wants to send me, not too garish a baseball cap, it might become my new sort of on set thing (laughs).
Access: I saw on your personal website, there’s a bit that says, ‘if you wish to write…’ Do you get letters?
David: I get quite a lot actually. They’re all from relatively young women which is nice, but then you start to worry what it is about these psychopaths [I play, which] they find endearing.
Access: Maybe it’s the prison thing. Loads of ladies write to serial killers in prison.
David: The thing that I find… Are you calling me a serial killer?
Access: You do play people who are quite happy to kill people.
David: Well, I am happy to kill people – fictional people, but yeah, they’re normally quite interesting, because they obviously see past the artifice. I know a lot of people who play nice guys and they get crazy fan mail from people who actually believe they are the character. All of my fan mail [is] from people who realize there’s a person behind that, who’s playing something so abhorrent enough that therefore he must be quite nice. They could be very wrong. I could actually be a psychopath who just sort of seems quite nice in interviews, but I keep that to myself.
Access: Speaking of psychopaths, the next thing people will get to see you in is a film called ‘Truth or Dare,’ where you get to play another sociopath?
David: Yep, another psycho. I got a phone call at the end of the first season of ‘The Borgias.’ I think they sort of caught my track record and asked me to go across, but at least this time I’m not wearing doublet and hose and a codpiece. It’s a good switch. It’s proven to have lots of great opportunities associated with it. I went over to Brussels recently for the international fantastic film festival, which is a huge horror convention, and since doing that, I’ve started writing horror films (laughs). I’ve started to get all of this evil out of me through my pen, instead of through my performance.
“The Borgias” Season 2 finale airs Sunday at 10 PM on Showtime.
-- Jolie Lash
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