I am incredly honoured to host an interview with Ana Ularu whio played Charlotte D’Albret in “The Borgias”. The interview was conducted by my dear friend Dragos Moldoveanu of Asociaţia „Institutul pentru Studii Renascentiste” (The Institute of Renaissance Studies Association – AISR) and kindly translated into English for Loyalty Binds Me.
The Romanian actress Ana Ularu (born in 1985) portrays Charlotte d` Albret in the third season of the historical-fiction television series The Borgias (2011). She had the kindness to answer a couple of our questions.
Cinema lovers know Ana Ularu from the award-winning drama Periferic (“Outbound”), directed by Bogdan Apetri, as well as from O vară foarte instabilă (“A Very Unsettled Summer”) and Sunt o babă comunistă (“I’m an Old Communist Hag”), both having the premiere in 2013.
This year, Ana will be seen in the upcoming drama Serena, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and also in Thursday, along with François Arnaud, her partner from The Borgias` television series.
Dragoș Moldoveanu: First, thank you for accepting the invitation of Asociaţia “Institutul pentru Studii Renascentiste” (The Institute for Renaissance Studies Association) to talk about your supporting part as Cesare Borgia’s wife. It is a privilege to have you as an interviewee.
Both yours and historical television series fans enjoyed watching you in The Borgias. The Borgia dynasty, whose fascinating saga is depicted in the series produced by Showtime, is one of the most illustrious families of the Renaissance Age. Prior to television broadcasting, what was your information about the Borgia family?
Ana ULARU: As a Cervantes High School graduate, I studied extensively the history of Spain and I came tangential to a short discussion about the two Popes the Borgia family gave to the Vatican. But, obviously, the pop culture chronicled rather the bloody facts and the fascinating figure of Lucrezia. What I had read about them disappeared somehow under a whole lot of other information gathered from other readings, so, it was very nice when I started to do my documentation to find out all sorts of information about them and especially about Charlotte d’Albret. I found out that Her Majesty Queen Anne is one of the descendants of the marriage between Cesare and Charlotte, the House of Bourbon-Parma… I hope I’m not mistaken.
Dragoș Moldoveanu: You anticipated my next question concerning the historical information. You portrayed the Duchess Charlotte d’Albret, wife of Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI. Therefore, how did you document for the role?
Ana ULARU: I read everything I could find about Charlotte, I searched for her portraits, I worked with a choreographer for the Ball Scene and I discussed some small costume wearing technicalities with Gabriella Pescucci, the series’ brilliant costume designer. I also had a very short meeting with a dialect coach for the accent. Speaking French, I found it quite simple to include items of musicality and specific phrasing in her accent.
Dragoș Moldoveanu: You said, some time ago, that “nothing is more depressing for an actor than to sit at home and not be called”. How did you react when you got the call about a role in The Borgias series?
Ana ULARU: The story was much more enjoyable than a simple phone call. I went to London to have an audition for another project, when I received an email with a few text pages for another one. After lengthy preparations for the first, I had only a few hours before I begin the journey for the latter that proved to be the Ball Scene from my episode. I was very happy to find out that I got the part. Then it came the training period, travels to Budapest for costume fitting… and all the beautiful rituals in the life of an actor.
Dragoș Moldoveanu: How would you depict the relationship between historical characters Charlotte d’Albret and Cesare Borgia, as it was described in the episode entitled “The Wolf and the Lamb”?
Ana ULARU: I decided along with François (who plays Cesare Borgia) and Kari Skoglund, the Director, that, although it is a marriage of convenience that serves Cesare for getting an army for a counterattack, it would be very interesting that, between the two, there is an attraction between two young, powerful, intelligent and with a sense of humor people. Already it settled that young noble women can experience absolutely disastrous arranged marriages, so Charlotte is fortunate to have destined a handsome and intelligent young man, and with whom she can negotiate very clear and open her preferences. She refuses to live in Rome, she detests the excessive idealization of love and she somehow understands his affection towards someone else, even though she doesn’t know who is the object of this affection. It is decided in my episode that the Vatican can grant the Papal Bull for divorce, and the two remained married until Cesare’s death (despite the impressive number of his illegitimate children). So, we created a relationship with humor and fireworks, Charlotte being like a cup of champagne prior to victory.
Dragoș Moldoveanu: Most of the scenes were filmed along with François Arnaud, the Canadian actor who played the famous Cesare Borgia. Personally, I was impressed by the interpretation of the scene of their last night together. How would you describe the collaboration you had with François Arnaud? What actors you also met on the set?
Ana ULARU: François is a very talented actor and a wonderful partner, and, after two projects together, I can say that I won a beautiful friendship. We are born a few days apart from each other, we have a similar sense of humor, we always had either a tacit understanding about the direction that we want to offer for a scene, either very interesting discussions about the dynamics of our characters (in both movies). I love playing with François, I feel very free to improvise, to discover interesting aspects in a scene. It was also nice because, on the set, I once again met with Sean Harris (Micheletto character) with whom I became friends and collaborated on Serena, Susanne Bier’s film, an excellent actor, with David Johnson, a DOP (Director of Photography) with whom I worked three times in videos directed by Wiz (Magnetic Man and The Hurts), with Thure Lindhardt (Rufio character), who was a member of the jury for Shooting Stars in 2012. I left with a very pleasant memory, I worked with a wonderful team and I felt appreciated and spoiled even if my presence there was brief.
Dragoș Moldoveanu: What was the most enjoyable time you lived on the set?
Ana ULARU: The whole experience was excellent. The Ball Scene remains a very difficult scene, logistically first, but very pleasant, it`s a negotiation and a very interesting exploration to play. The first night after wedding scene was again a very nice moment, a scene so simple and gentle, a discussion, a relaxing time for the characters. I think the most fun I`ve had was during the choreography lessons.
Dragoș Moldoveanu: Thank you once again for your kindness and look eagerly the movies that will occur this year. I hope your phone to ring more often and conquer the Romanian and European public with as many roles!
This interview was conducted by Dragoş Moldoveanu, President of Asociaţia „Institutul pentru Studii Renascentiste” (The Institute of Renaissance Studies Association – AISR).