‘Dangerous Liaisons’ EPs: How They Found Their Camille & Valmont In ‘Absolutely Electric’ Audition (Exclusive)

'Dangerous Liaisons' EPs break down Alice Englert and Nicholas Denton's 'electric' audition, which involved a plastic sheet, that won them the roles of Camille and Valmont.

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Image Credit: STARZ

The new Dangerous Liaisons series will chronicle the lives of Camille and Pascal Valmont before they became toxic lovers in a war filled with lies and deceit. When the series begins, they are passionate young lovers, but their relationship soon starts to fray at the seams. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with EPs Harriet Warner and Colin Callender about casting Alice Englert and Nicholas Denton in these intoxicating roles.

“Well, we were casting during the pandemic, during the lockdown. We weren’t looking for stars or names, we were just looking for two great actors that could inhabit the roles,” Colin revealed. “We saw lots of auditions, and the moment we saw Nicholas and the moment we saw Alice, we knew they were going to be brilliant. We had to see them together because the whole spine of the series was their relationship, but we were in a lockdown. We contrived to have them rehearse some scenes together in a rehearsal room, but we had to divide the rehearsal room with a large plastic sheet because they weren’t allowed to be in the same space together. We decided that if they could actually pull it off, rehearsing and making the scenes work with a big plastic sheet between them, we had a good chance that they would actually work onscreen together. They were absolutely electric in this rehearsal room between the plastic sheets. It was just dynamic, and we knew we had found Camille and Valmont.”

The STARZ series, which premieres on November 6, is an origin story to Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 French novel. HollywoodLife asked if the show, which has been renewed for season 2, will eventually cover the entirety of the novel.

“I think we definitely build to that place of those two characters of the novel in terms of where they get to. It really is a story of innocence to experience to corruption, and that feels like a really fantastic way to go with it,” Harriet noted. “In a way, you know where they end, although I think throughout the show, the idea is always to sort of subvert those expectations. If you are familiar with the novel or the adaptation, Christopher Hampton’s movie, you know where those characters end up. I think we definitely move to that landscape, but we won’t see it coming how we get there and what we deliver. They are on a journey to that place.”

Camille and Valmont are both morally gray characters. Will the show have viewers rooting for one character over the other? The EPs addressed the show’s perspective on Camille and Valmont.

“It’ll be really interesting to see that response. I think, certainly, from my point, I love them both. They really do feel like two halves of the same toxic, troubled beast,” Harriet said. “But I think it’d be very interesting to see how do we respond to them. One of the themes of the show is the kind of harsh judgment of women in the society of that time. What a man does and what a woman does, if it’s the same thing, the responses is very different. It will be fascinating to see that from an audience. For me, I love them and find them compelling. I don’t judge them because I love that journey of them, and I think we understand why they are on it, but it will be really fascinating to see that play out.”

Colin added, “We wanted to embrace that sort of moral ambiguity but rooted in the early part of episode 1 in that sort of relationship and see how it devolves.”

In a shift from the book, Camille’s friendship with Victoire will be a major focus of the series. “In the novel, Victoire is in a way a co-conspirator of the Marquise but a very sort of minor character. In the same way in the novel, Valmont has his manservant, Azolan, who’s very complicit in his schemes and equally corrupt. I wanted to have those two key figures, Azolan and Victoire, as the innocence of the piece in a way,” Harriet told HollywoodLife.

She continued, “That’s why I made them much younger because I thought it would be a wonderful way to show that journey of corruption through the eyes of these two young people who love their friends stroke weird kind of patron. But particularly with Victoire and Camille, I think it’s one of the most pure relationships on the show. Victoire’s journey through the season is incredibly powerful because it really is her tracking Camille’s change. As all our characters move closer to power, that power has the corrupting influence that power does. Victoire’s response to that and this extraordinary purity of heart that that character embodies, I think is one of the real engaging strands of the show. It’s a very key relationship. Again, hopefully, if we get to carry on this story, we see some fascinating, unexpected changes there.”

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