'Borgias' star Arnaud talks about Cesare, forbidden love, leather pants

Showtime's “The Borgias” returns for a second season at 9 p.m. Sunday.
BY KATE O'HARE Published: April 7, 2012

Sitting at an outdoor table at a cafe on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, digging into a salad and carrot juice, French Canadian actor Francois Arnaud — who plays Renaissance nobleman, priest and politician Cesare Borgia in Showtime's “The Borgias” — looks like any other dark-haired, slightly scruffy 26-year-old actor.

Apparently that confuses some people.

“I was meeting a girl this morning for a magazine,” says Arnaud, “and she's like, ‘What?' I don't know if she was expecting me to show up with long hair, in a long, red dress. It's weird. It's just weird. People don't think that I look like a normal 26-year-old.”

“The Borgias” returns for a second season at 9 p.m. Sunday, continuing the saga of the 15th-century family, headed by patriarch Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons) — aka Pope Alexander VI — who blended the influence of the Roman Catholic Church with plenty of temporal power and wealth (not to mention heaping helpings of sin and debauchery along the way).

Along with Cesare, Rodrigo's other children with his longtime mistress, Vanozza (Joanne Whalley), are swashbuckling soldier Juan (David Oakes) and daughter Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger), whose relationship with Cesare borders on being too close for comfort.

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