The Serpent Queen is all about Catherine de Medici, and the STARZ series explores the life of one of France’s most powerful and longest-serving rulers. The show begins in Catherine’s teen years, and the character is played by Liv Hill. As the years go by, Samantha Morton steps into the role.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Samantha, who admitted that what intrigued her the most about Catherine’s story “was the fact that we don’t really know about her. This is a historical figure that were not talked about in schools, really. I suppose if you’re doing like a history major, and you want to specialize in France from 1530 to whatever you might know about it, but really, in society, we don’t know about her. But we know about Napoleon. We know about Henry VIII. We know about all these other men in history, but we didn’t know about her.”
“Everyone’s a hero of their own stories,” Samantha said. “I think the fact that she survived to the point where we get to make that a part of the show is incredible. It’s really incredible. I find her story compelling and shocking. This idea that everything she went through, and then she still carried on ruling but not for ego or narcissism. There’s a huge amount of just trying to keep world peace in effect and managing the world stage. I mean, sadly, it’s all too often that its men that are those people, but actually, historically, women were in charge of that as well.”
During Catherine’s younger years, she’s thrown into the French court and has to secure her place. Catherine had been “physically, emotionally abused her whole life” prior to coming to court, Liv explained to HollywoodLife.
“Her biggest challenge is survival,” Liv revealed. “But in order to survive, she has to produce an heir. For many reasons, that proves very, very difficult. I suppose my episodes focus on how does she secure her place when she hasn’t got a baby to secure her position?”
Despite being so young, young Catherine wasn’t totally unprepared for the manipulations and deceits of the French court.
“She was always alert, always on the lookout, always reading into people’s body language, always being reserved, and holding her cards close,” Liv said. “I suppose nothing could have prepared her for the different power play in the court, but she had that emotional intelligence to always be on the lookout for danger.”
However, young Catherine is still very vulnerable in those teenage years. The series dives deep into the emotional complexities of Catherine, rather than just producing the typical surface-level period drama.
“I think that’s really important to see in a period drama as well because when you think of history, a lot of us only can refer to textbooks, where everything is very detached emotionally,” Liv told HollywoodLife. “Even when we see a lot of period dramas on screen, it is quite reserved, detached, devoid of emotion. So to see emotions quite freely expressed, especially when it comes to rejection and unreciprocated love, which is so painful… I think for me, even though she’s been emotionally and physically abused her whole life, the most painful thing is that unrequited love from Henry, which I think is quite common.” The Serpent Queen will air Sundays on STARZ.