You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘The Royals’ Premiere: Elizabeth Hurley Teases Chaos in the Castle

“Austin Powers” vixen Elizabeth Hurley plays bad-to-the-bone Queen Helena in E!’s first-ever scripted series, “The Royals.” Filmed in London, the soapy drama — from “One Tree Hill” creator Mark Schwahn — follows an ultra-glamorous yet dysfunctional modern royal family, with Hurley on the throne.

Hurley tells Variety why she’s so good at playing bad:

Why was this the right project to bring you to TV?

99.9% of American shows shoot in America, and my son is in school in England. Also, I just never found something that I would have wanted to do for a period of time. Doing a movie, you’re in, you’re out, but on TV, there’s always that magical chance that we might be here for years.

The Royals” was given a second season before the premiere. Is the pressure on?

Of course it adds an element of pressure, but we’ve shot it, so there’s only so much we can do.

Queen Helena is evil. Why are you so good at playing bad? 

I starting off playing ingenues like everyone does, but I segued into playing bad quite early on, and I have to say, I’m better at bad. I felt a little guilty that I was so mean to the girls (co-stars Alexandra Park and Merritt Patterson). I’m vile! But it would be a bit boring if she took up crochet!

Why is Queen Helena so vile?

I think it’s like a physical pain to her when people don’t do what she wants and that’s what she’s fighting with the whole time because her children won’t do anything she wants them to do so there’s a lot of friction from the get go.

Queen Helena may be tough, but there’s no doubt she’s a strong female character. Was that important to you in choosing this role?

Yes, I suppose it was. The best parts in this [series] are for ladies. We get a lot to do in this. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but the few TV shows I have watched in recent years, with the exception of “Breaking Bad,” have been very female-orientated. I’m loving “Nashville” at the moment. I loved watching “Desperate Housewives.” I like seeing woman in TV. I like seeing women in film.

Speaking of strong women on TV, Joan Collins plays your mother.

The funny thing is, when I first read the script, the character that jumped at me was (one like) Alexis Carrington in “Dynasty.” I read it and thought, this is Joan Collins’ part, which is just ironic. In she comes!

Your character and your on-screen daughter, Princess Eleanor (Park) don’t have the best relationship. Can we expect any development or will they keep butting heads?

I think they’re both very different in their vileness. She’s had a misspent youth. She hasn’t had enough guidance. She’s just one of those youths you just want to help all the time. She’s clever, she’s pretty, she’s obviously got a very good heart, but she’s gone off the rails and she needs some help. My character is just so desperate to be in control and to dictate events. I think in Season 1, we have a few vulnerable moments, but most of them not with other. Not yet. I think there’s mother and daughter friction, but we have some moments and we get to do a lot together, as the season progresses. But we’re not friends in any way.

Your on-screen son, Prince Liam (William Moseley), is dating a commoner, Ophelia (Patterson). Any chance for redemption there?

She does not want her son to date a member of staff. It’s as simple as that. She’s not what she had planned and she’ll fight it tooth and nail all the way.

Queen Helena is bad. Is there anything you wouldn’t want to see her do?

She’s done quite a lot in the first season! She’s a character that people love to hate and she’s doing bad things, [but] I personally feel the jury is still out whether Queen Helena is a good or a bad person. She without any doubt does bad things, but I think there’s definitely an argument that she does it for the greater good. She wants to be a fabulous queen and represent a fabulous history of tradition for the people, for foreigners.

People are drawing a comparison to “Gossip Girl,” which you had a major arc on during Season 5. Is “The Royals” like “Gossip Girl” with accents?

The show is nothing like “Gossip Girl.” Going back to the days of “Dynasty,” we’ve seen big, epic [shows], looking at these lives we could never live. Private jets! Caviar! Champagne every night! Wonderful clothes! But there is very much this youthful feel in “Gossip Girl,” and that was a new world for me. This is very different because that was me going into a show on year five. I had a fabulous time. They we’re all charming, but most of my scenes were with Chace [Crawford], an enchanting man, but half my age — but what a lovely guy!

Your “Gossip Girl” character was another manipulative, powerful, wealthy lady. You really are good at playing bad, huh?

My character is a piece of work in that, as well. Very manipulative and controlling and deceitful, but she did do a lot for personal gain so it’s not so similar to Helena, but it certainly did have a foot in evil camp, which I do quite like.

“The Royals” premieres Sunday, March 15 at 10 p.m. on E!

More TV

  • Bristol, CT - March 13, 2017

    Mina Kimes Helps ESPN Kick Off 'Daily' Podcast

    Mina Kimes is preparing to take ESPN into a new frontier. The sports-media giant has launched a “SportsCenter” for Snapchat and tested baseball telecasts for kids. Now it’s hoping to set up shop in another media venue. Starting tomorrow, the Disney-backed company launches “ESPN Daily,” a weekday morning podcast that aims to tap its vast [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]


    Showrunner Stefano Voltaggio on Netflix's 'Zero' About Black Youths in Italy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix recently announced a new Italian original titled “Zero” that will mark the first Italian series centered around the present-day lives of black Italian youths. “Zero” is based on several books by young writer and TV music show host Antonio Dikele Distefano, who was born in Italy from Angolan parents. The project was originated by [...]

  • Content-is-King

    Top TV Execs Tackle New Distribution Landscape in Rome

    ROME – In an increasingly complex TV market, with a host of new big-ticket streaming services preparing to enter an already crowded arena, both buyers and sellers are rethinking some of the fundamentals of the TV business as they grapple with the best way to reach global audiences. A host of top producers, network executives, [...]

  • MIA-MARKET-2019_Europe-Producers-Club_4

    European Producers and Broadcasters Debate How to Weather Streaming Storm

    ROME – The impending rollout of Disney Plus, HBO Max, and other new streaming services promises a new era of uncertainty—and opportunity—for broadcasters and producers in an industry already disrupted by the likes of Netflix and Amazon. At a panel hosted by the European Producers Club Friday afternoon during the MIA market in Rome, executives [...]

  • Kevin-Beggs

    Lionsgate TV Chairman Kevin Beggs on Streamers and TV’s ‘Platinum Era’

    ROME – Over the course of two decades in the industry, Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs has witnessed the ups and downs of a business that has frequently found itself confronting both dizzying new possibilities as well as existential threats. But these days the veteran exec, who oversees the development of all scripted and non-scripted content [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content