Why 'Versailles' Stars Think the Show Is 'Pushing the Envelope' of Gay Representation on TV
Alexander Vlahos, Evan Williams and Tygh Runyan stop by TooFab to spill on what to expect in Season 3 and why some fans’ reactions makes one of them “fall into tears.”
The stars of "Versailles" stopped by TooFab ahead of the Ovation TV show’s third and final season premiere airing tonight, and they had lots to say, from hints on what is in store for their characters all the way to "pushing the envelope" for gay storytelling.
Alexander Vlahos (Monsieur Philippe d’Orleans), Evan Williams (the Chevalier) and Tygh Runyan (Fabien Marchal) opened up about what it was like saying goodbye to the period-piece television series that follows 28-year-old King Louis XIV building the world’s greatest palace in 1667 France. The actors revealed they went into Season 3 unsure of the drama’s fate — and were flooded with emotions when they heard that final "cut!"
"We found out six weeks before the end of filming," Vlahos said. "We were about to get the last couple scripts for the last block, and they were like, ‘You’re not coming back,’ and that was a bit of an adjustment period."
"They were respectful, but it was a hot topic," Runyan added.
Williams said "it was a surprise, but it wasn’t a great shock," adding that it’s fairly common for European shows to last three seasons.
Vlahos, a self-proclaimed "cry baby," said it was "absolutely" emotional filming his final scene on the series. Runyan — who plays King Louis XIV’s lead detective and is at constantly on horseback — agreed, saying he shared his final, "sappy" scene with his horse.
But Vlahos said it wasn’t just the show they were saying goodbye to. "These two are like my brothers," he said, referring to his co-stars of four years.
Vlahos plays Philippe, a.k.a. the Monsieur, the brother of King Louis XIV. He’s a military genius and a hero — but also cross-dresses and has been in a romantic relationship with Williams’ character, the Chevalier, for many years. In 1667 France, homosexuality was punishable by death.
TooFab asked Vlahos and Williams if their characters’ privilege — being in the king’s inner circle — insulated them from being persecuted for their sexuality. "Versailles" fans coined the twosome "MonChevy."
"The reason why [MonChevy] get to be so lavish, so extravagant and so pushing the rules and breaking the rules in pretty much every episode is because [Philippe] is the king’s brother, and by proxy, [the Chevalier] cannot get hurt by that," Vlahos said. "Louis knows that he can’t kill the Chevalier because it would break his brother’s heart."
"The flip side of that privilege is that their love relationship has always been lethally unbalanced," Williams added. "Like if [Philippe] snapped his fingers, I would either get expelled or lose my head. And the Chevalier always knew that and so was always trying to grab on and make himself relevant."
"And in Season 3, we see what happens when both characters are forced to stand on their own," he continued. "And the Chevalier has always existed in the shadow of Philippe and has been basically manipulating Philippe to stay there, and so when he’s cast out and forced to find his identity and figure out who he is, there’s a potential that he’s going to change and maybe grow up. So we’ll see, maybe the Chevalier might turn into the hero."
The actors also spoke about the censorship of their sex scenes in certain parts of the world, particularly in Russia, where the screen "just go black." Williams said his on-screen relationship with Vlahos is portrayed as "really good friends."
"I feel like that just means we’re pushing the envelope," Williams said. "The number of people who have come to us and say that they feel represented is mind-blowing."
Vlahos said he had recently read an article written by a trans boy who said he found comfort in seeing Philippe’s gender non-conforming character.
"Stuff like that makes me fall into tears. That’s why we do it," Vlahos said. "Also in this show, we never say the word gay or homosexual. So I think that’s pushing the needle. It is a gay relationship,but we just treat them as people who are in love."
"It’s not a story about gays; it’s a story about love," Williams added. "And in that way, it’s universal."
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