One of the brightest lights in The Serpent Queen has been star Liv Hill. Many know her from starring in Jellyfish, but honestly, watching her in The Serpent Queen, we forgot she was in anything else.
We took notice of the actress in front of us, starring as the younger version of Catherine de Medici (the older version played by Samantha Morton). She was charismatic, charming, and made you focus on her on the screen. The growth that her character has over just three episodes is something that we loved to see.
And something that we learned from.
Liv Hill isn’t like everyone you come across in Hollywood. She’s humble and quaint, appreciative and thoughtful. She’s not let fame go to her head, instead she’s embraced acting for what it is – an art form. And guys, she’s really great at her art.
Speaking to her was an absolute delight, wasn’t afraid to talk about the hard stuff, which we appreciated. It was an interview that reminded us that the next generation of Hollywood stars really want to perfect a craft and really embrace
The way that Liv talks about her character, sees the context of the show, and the beauty of its setting, made us believe she saw just the impact that shows like this can give. The insight that she has to her character made us love the show even more.
Read our interview below –
Q: I absolutely love the show. I think that it’s one of the smartest historical dramas that I’ve seen in a long time. It focuses a lot about Catherine outsmarted a lot, men and women, to become the notorious queen that she was. I feel like her story is quite remarkable. Can you talk a little bit about why you wanted to play Catherine and what you loved the most about playing the role?
Liv: It was probably one of the most easiest jobs that I’ve ever said yes to in my life. I know I’m still young in the industry especially. She was just such a gifted role to play. A very, very compelling character. Had such a duality of personality. She was vulnerable yet also detached from emotion. She could be strong and weak. I loved that. I loved playing that.
Also, of course, the people involved, it was such an immensely talented production. Every single person in each department was just incredible. I don’t say that lightly either. It was such a pleasure to have worked with them. Obviously, playing Samantha Morton is always a bonus. No, it was amazing.
Q: It’s my opinion, I think Samantha Morton is amazing, but I think you really stood on your own as Catherine. You were able to make me, not only like the character, but also fear the character. There were times where I was just like, “Whoa.” One thing that I think that you and Samantha both brought out of Catherine, I feel like she was a feminist before her time. I feel like that. Do you agree?
Liv: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for saying that as well. I think what I loved about playing Catherine is that, you’re right, she was a feminist before her time. She was totally in a room dominated by men, which is the same in many industries right now. She was marked against a currency of beauty, and also, could she conceive a child, which again, many women face today. It’s very topical.
I think the fact that she was able to hold her own, she retained the source of a sense of self-esteem and resilience is quite remarkable, really. She was a really remarkable woman. She was cleverer than every person in that room and she was able to outmaneuver all of them, and secure her place in the French courts.
The fact that she did that, again, as someone with no great beauty, as someone unrefined as quoted in the script, is really inspiring for many women and myself included.
Q: I think that period dramas can be the same thing over and over again. They all seem the same. I think The Serpent Queen, for me, it’s a contemporary production based in the historical world. I think some of them are, my favorite things are the ability to break the fourth wall, the dialogue. I felt really bad in episode three when the dolphin died and you as Catherine just shrugged your shoulder. I was supposed to feel something but I’m laughing so hard.
It’s amazing, the dialog and everything in it is amazing. Your writers were fantastic. My question is, was that part of what drew you to the series? Did that make it more fun to play?
Q: Yes, I loved the writing. I loved Justin’s writing so much. I remember reading it and thinking, this is really cool, because loads of period dramas, there are some very good ones out there, but they can be really stuffy and quite very typical. You play a period drama, and it could be very reserved, a caricature of what we think people in history acted like, behaved like.
Whereas in this, like you said, it’s very contemporary. It’s got contemporary language, contemporary school, and the breaking of a Fourth Wall, which is becoming popular. I also think it’s done in a really subtle way. I think that’s what I love about it. I love the subtlety of the humor.
When I watched it, what I’m most proud and I’m just happy about is the fact that the writing seems to be exactly, or the direction and the acting of everyone, and the way it’s been shot is exactly as I had read it. It’s different obviously to how I imagined it, but it’s retained that truthfulness, that authenticity, and yet very dark humor. You don’t know whether to, like you said, be completely horrified or to laugh out loud.
Q: 100%. I was actually speaking to a friend of mine because I was trying to convince her to watch it. I was telling her about it. I said there’s so many dark things in it, but there’s so many light things in it. Like Diane and Henry are their own thing and the bible and all that. I was like, “Whoa.” It brings you into the world and makes you go like, okay, my family’s not just the only ones who are crazy. There was crazy-
Liv: Oh, my God. Literally. Isn’t it? That’s so funny. You right about the Henry and Diane thing because obviously when you think about the age difference, and actually in history, he was underage and she was– it’s quite awful when you think about it.
She– how do you say– groomed him, but then when you watch it, it’s like you are in that world, and you see it in the context. Some of the scenes they do is quite touching. I feel quite a bit conflicted in myself watching it because you’re like, oh, this is really touching, but also I guess really messed up as well. I think that’s why it is such an enthralling show because you’re constantly trying to question the morality of everyone, and what would I have done differently.
Q: 100%. I feel like there’s so many things that I would definitely question, but I think that because the production value is so insane, and it feels like you’re actually going through time and transported back into 16th-century France, that it’s one of those things where you feel like, ooh, that’s gross, but also you’re like, wait, it was a different time.
Liv: Different time, yes. It’s hard, isn’t it? Because it could be very problematic. I think the way they’ve done it, for me, you can see the intention is not to be problematic, but it is in its context.
Q: First of all, I love your clothes and your hair and stuff in there. I feel like, for me, that would’ve made me feel– if I had to wear that, first of all I’d be uncomfortable. Second of all, it would make me feel very powerful. Very, I don’t know, just regal. Did it make you feel that way, or was it uncomfortable, or did you enjoy the hair and makeup and clothing?
Liv: You’ve taken all the words out of my mouth. I literally agree with everything. It is uncomfortable to wear a corset. I don’t like wearing corsets. I don’t think any woman likes wearing corsets. However, it is not real life, and it was not the hardest job in the world either. It was very fun to do. In that aspect, I’m not complaining.
However, in terms of the power, it made me feel– I remember one dress almost had these thorns sticking up on the shoulder blades. Not real thorns. It looked like, don’t come near. It made me feel really formidable and really powerful. My posture changed. I had to be regal, as you said.
I think that was so clever of Karen, the costume designer, because it gave me as the actress, but also Catherine, I’m sure, that confidence that she needed in that court when she was probably feeling incredibly vulnerable.
Q: The customs and the production value is insane. I just loved it. Did you actually know how to ride horses, or did you learn for the show, or was that you riding? Because whoever it is, is a phenomenal rider.
Liv: That’s very funny. I think that’s the first time being asked that. I’m not a great rider, no. I did have lessons, but no, we had this fantastic stunt double for me. Some of the other actors were riding and galloping and stuff. I was really impressed. I trotted along, but even that was quite difficult. There’s a lot of camera work to make it convincing that it was me.
Q: I totally thought it was you. I was going to applaud you for, in episode three, being torn off the horse. I was like-
Liv: God. Maybe I should ride and own it.
Q: What did you take away from being Catherine? What’s the biggest lesson that you learned from playing the role?
Liv: I think a bit like how you were saying with the feminist before her time. I think what I really took away is, I was really inspired because she managed to keep this unwavering self-belief in her self-esteem, which again, I find remarkable. I don’t know how anyone can be that emotionally and physically abused and rejected that much in such a short time, in those formative years especially, and still retain that self-worth or some self-worth.
For me, I feel like I’ve taken away from her is that– well, I hope I’ve taken away. I guess I’ll see as I grow older, but that resilience and self-belief in yourself, that she did feel special because she thought she had these magic powers as well. I don’t believe I’ve got magic powers, but you’ve got to feel like you’re worth something, that you’re special in a way that everyone is special and unique.
Q: I love that. How do you feel like you’re most like Catherine in real life?
Liv: I’m someone who is very alert or– not alert. Maybe not alert. She was being alert from a place of survival, constantly trying to work out the dynamics in the room and who was looking at her and what their body language and facial expressions were like. That’s what I really enjoyed playing.
I think I’m quite similar, like everyone is, to be honest, but I feel like I’m quite similar. I’ve always been that person who is trying to work out what others are perceiving me as. I feel that I ramped that up for Catherine because it was coming from a, not just a social survival place. It’s coming from an actual life survival place.
The Serpent Queen airs Sundays on Starz. Watch it. You won’t regret it.