The Collection: Tom Riley plays Claude Sabine with a mix of vulnerability, charm, & bravado
A second part to Tom's interview with Decider has been shared online. Tom chats about only playing sexually fluid tortured geniuses, in The Collection and Da Vinci's Demons. Read it in full on Decider. The Collection is now available to watch on Amazon Prime USA. But fans outside the US can still find it on France 3, BBC First and Amazon Prime UK!
Tom Riley plays Claude Sabine with a mix of vulnerability, charm, and bravado. Even thought the role is a departure for Riley, there is a common thread between Claude and Riley’s work playing a gallivanting version of Leonard Da Vinci on Starz’s Da Vinci’s Demons.
“I mean, I only play sexually fluid tortured geniuses. It’s a real niche market but I’m hoping those parts don’t dry up at any point soon,” Riley joked. “Da Vinci was obviously incredibly heightened. The character in that situation bordered on the ridiculous and the outlandish. It was always a very graphic novel, comic-book-world style approach where as [The Collection] is far more based in pure history. It’s far more natural. It’s grubby and realer, so it was a chance to sort of see if playing that version of the character, playing Da Vinci but in a very real, natural not overblown, not over hype way was possible. If I could find the truth in it rather than the crazy.”
Riley told us that he wasn’t keen to jump into another TV role after Da Vinci’s Demons, but he was taken by the journey that Claude goes on. His family are suspected of being Nazi collaborators and his family are happy to use any means necessary to get what they want.
Riley defended the Sabine family’s moral ambiguity. “Well the truth is that no one thinks they’re bad; No one thinks they’re not doing what is best for the family. And in that weird little trio of Claude, Paul, and their mother, both Paul and Yvette are doing exactly what they think is right for the family and they’re keeping Claude in exactly the position they think he needs to be in, in order to be the perfect designer for them; in order to get the most work out of it.”
Riley added, “And in turn Claude is getting the chance to live the debauched life that he wants to live.” “It’s only when some success comes of this arrangement that the whole thing begins to crumble as the series progresses,” Riley said. “So, Claude who is closeted as far as his work is concerned, even if he’s not closeted as far as his sexuality is concerned, is starting to realize that he doesn’t want to stay in the shadows anymore as the series progresses. That’s when things begin to fall to pieces. The adulation is going everywhere else and this is a man who in his childhood was called different and was not normal because of his sexuality, suddenly he’s in this place again where he’s got a chance to be accepted and he’s not allowed to do that either. So the whole thing comes crashing down around their ears.”
Riley told us that inhabiting the proverbial shoes of a genius fashion designer gave him new appreciation for the artistry that goes into fashion. Naturally, one of the best parts of The Collection is its scintillating costume design. Riley had a few choice favorites from the series. “I really love the red dress that Nina (Jenna Thiam) wears in the market. It gets torn to shreds in the first episode,” he said. “I also loved Claude’s leather jacket. That was one of those things where you go, ‘I wonder if I could sneak this into my bag on the last day on set,’ but they were too all over it.”