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Meet Francois Arnaud: sinfully good bad boy of 'The Borgias'

April 8, 2011 |  6:30 am

Francois Arnaud stars in "The Borgias" on Showtime.

As Showtime's original series "The Borgias" proves, boys will be boys -- even in Renaissance-era Vatican City. 

One particular face on the new show caught the Ministry's eye: Francois Arnaud, who plays  the "violent, dashing and cavalier" son of Jeremy Irons' Pope Alexander VI. While the 25-year-old Montreal native is a new face stateside, he occupies quite a bit of small-screen real estate as Cesare Borgia. 

The essentials on Arnaud include ...

Francois Arnaud as Cesare Borgia Cesare, I am your father: The actor counts legendary Irons as a major scene partner, which he calls "intimidating" at the very least. One source of comfort in building their necessary bond: Irons is almost identical to Arnaud's own dad. "I thought, 'He looks exactly like my father.' Uncanny. But [Jeremy] was very generous." 

Survived worse than a cushy "Twilight" boot camp: While his same-age counterparts might be vampires and werewolves on soaring wires, Arnaud has some less-sophisticated period stunts to pull off. Prior to "Borgias," he'd never even been on a horse. "It was a pretty grueling shoot. When I wasn't filming, I usually was doing stuff like horse training. Thanks to editing, it looks pretty good, but the bloopers are all basically me falling off a horse."  

In lieu of cryptic scrolls, Facebook him: The heavy robes and sword fights of Rome were a privilege, but Arnaud is now dying to do something modern. "The one thing I saw in the past year that I'd die to be a part of was 'The Social Network.' The Aaron Sorkin dialogue is just incredible, and I love all of those actors."

Is he single? "I'm not married." (Well played.)

About that voice: Arnaud is French Canadian, pulls off a smoky Italian look and manages along with the rest of the cast to speak with an upper-class British tilt in "Borgias." What's the deal?

"English in 'The Borgias' is code. If you've seen HBO's 'Rome' series, the accents are arranged by class, and we didn't want to do that. I was always trying to bring the sound to pure English."

Arnaud keeps talking Sundays on Showtime.


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-- Matt Donnelly

Photos: (top) Francois Arnaud as himself. Credit: Joshua Kogan / DR Photo

(bottom) Francois Arnaud in character as Cesare Borgia. Credit: Showtime