Neil Jordan Disowns Sky Drama 'Riviera': "I Can't Claim It's Mine"

Neil Jordan

Although he's listed as creator and co-writer of the glitzy Julia Stiles-starring crime series, the Oscar winner says he "took a back seat" after his episodes were heavily reworked.

A glitzy, champagne-soaked crime drama set amid the filthy rich on the sun-drenched south coast of France, Riviera — an expensive 10-parter that launched on Sky Atlantic in the U.K. earlier this month — doesn't sound like your average Neil Jordan project. 

And according to the Oscar-winning director behind The Crying Game and Interview With a Vampire, it isn't. 

Although Jordan is listed as creator and co-writer of the show alongside Booker Prize-winning author John Banville, the filmmaker claims Riviera — which stars Julia Stiles as the widow of a billionaire banker killed in a yacht explosion — was taken out of his hands and molded into something else. The series was based on an initial idea by former U2 manager Paul McGuinness, and it being produced by U.K.-based Archery Pictures.

"I can't claim it's mine. If I had been in control of the thing, it would have been quite different," Jordan told The Guardian, adding that the first two hourlong episodes he wrote were heavily reworked. "They were changed, to my huge surprise and considerable upset. There were various sexual scenes introduced into the story and a lot of very expository dialog. I objected in the strongest terms possible."

Jordan says he took a "back seat" from the production after he complained, and Riviera shifted from his darker premise to a drama closer to a 1980s soap.

"It's being described as Dynasty sur mer. It was quite distressing for John and for myself, the way it proceeded," he said. 

Riviera became the biggest drama premiere this year when it launched on Sky Atlantic, part of pay TV giant Sky, and the box set has been downloaded more than 5 million times. However, the critical response has been mixed, with one reviewer describing the show as "like a bad telenovela, with super yachts."

In a statement sent to THR, Archery Pictures said that it was a "huge team effort" making a show of the scale of Riviera.

"Neil co-wrote the first two episodes of the series with John Banville and between them they created a fascinating group of characters, led by the brilliant Julia Stiles in the role of Georgina Clios," it added. "The show is the most successful premiere on Sky Atlantic this year, achieving higher ratings than such international hit series as Billions and Big Little Lies. Within the first week of its release it had been downloaded 5.3 million times, a new record for any Sky Box Set. We are all grateful to Neil for his contribution, incredibly proud of the show and thrilled by its success."

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Sky for comment.

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