If you’re struggling to fill the void that Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder left behind with their respective season finales, have no fear—there’s a new Shondaland drama on the horizon, and it’s about to dish out a fresh heaping of the juicy storylines you’ve come to crave. The Shonda Rhimes-helmed production company’s latest series Still Star-Crossed premieres Monday, May 29 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, and you better believe that it packs plenty of twists and turns.
The period drama picks up after the end of Romeo and Juliet, offering a glimpse at what might have gone down after the titular characters’ tragic deaths. It revives the long-standing feud between the Capulet and Montague families, and delves deeper into the lives of characters that we came to know and love (or hate) in Shakespeare’s original play. One of the characters that we’ll get to know particularly well is Count Paris, played by former Reign star Torrance Coombs, who didn’t survive the end of the play. In ABC’s take, however, Paris is alive and well—and that’s just one of the many suprises to expect.
“Romeo and Juliet has been a play for a long time, so obviously I can spoil that—but I don’t want to spoil too many of the liberties that have been taken with the sequel,” Coombs recently told InStyle. “But I will say that there’s still a lot of hurt from what went down with Romeo and Juliet, and there are a lot of angry people. Amid all that, though, there’s still some hope. There’s a love story in there, and it’s still an optimistic show despite all of the violent and terrible things happening. And there’s something sexy and romantic and beautiful about it all.” Scroll down for five things that Coombs told us to expect in the show.
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1. SIGNATURE SHONDALAND DRAMA
“It’s got the hallmark stuff of Shondaland’s other shows—there’s definitely some of the sharp twists and turns that they’re known for,” said Coombs. “I imagine there will be some moments that are very shocking to people. But it also has something a little different to it. I think there’s a reason they didn’t throw it on Thursday night with the other shows, although the sense of humor and the celebration of the soapiness of it is definitely there. Everything on the show is a confrontation, because there are no cell phones or technology. Every encounter is deliberate, and the only way to talk to somebody is face-to-face or by letter—so it’s difficult to tell people that someone is in trouble and needs saving. Information doesn’t travel easily, so dramatically speaking, that raises the stakes a lot.”
2. GORGEOUS SETTINGS
“The show shoots in small-town Spain, and the production team opted to shoot entirely on location,” said Coombs. “So there’s no studio or soundstage—it was 100 percent real locations throughout Spain. Occasionally a fountain will be made of Styrofoam or something, but everything is really authentic—the walls and stairs in the buildings are all worn and heavy, and there were amazing cathedrals. Everything was picked for how picturesque it was. We shot in six or seven different cities, and one of the most impressive places was a town called Salamanca where we shot a lot of outdoor scenes for the pilot episode. There’s a big church up on a hill, and it’s probably one of the most magnificent churches you’ve ever seen. But then you see another church in the distance, and it’s even bigger and more impressive than that one.”
3. NEW TWISTS ON THE CLASSIC
“In the story of Romeo and Juliet, Paris is a noble from a nearby city who’s initially engaged to be married to Juliet. He’s in line for the throne in Manchua, and if he had married Juliet, the Capulets would have basically been elevated to royal status. So he really thinks that’s going well, but then it turns out that Romeo has married her under his nose. So he has a swordfight with Romeo, which leaves him dead in the play. But for the purposes of our show, we say he’s very close to death but manages to survive his wounds. He hasn’t given up on his aspirations for power and elevating the Capulet family with a political alliance—it’s still pretty important to him, and he’s going to continue to pursue that. But now that Juliet is dead, Paris has to go to plan B. He’s kind of gone into hiding, and he’s biding his time. He slowly worms his way into the main storyline, and that’s when the real fun began for me.”
4. TONS OF SWORDFIGHTS
“There are some huge swordfights in this show,” said Coombs. “When tensions overflow, they get really impressive. We’d go into a room to practice, and there would be like 100 guys practicing. There’s one big central swordfight between Paris and Romeo, and was exciting to shoot. It was interesting because I’ve been spending a lot of time doing more broadsword, big-swinging sword fights, and this was a lot more finessed, kind of like rapier sword fighting. So that was an adjustment for me.”
5. ELABORATE COSTUMES
“The costumes are gorgeous,” said Coombs. “They’re a hybrid of period and modern pieces, because even though the show takes place in a time period, but it’s not strictly speaking of the historical story. So we weren’t beholden to what they wore back then, exactly. There’s a lot of modern designer wear mixed in with custom period pieces, and for my character, there are a lot of really high collars, ruffled shirts, and tailored pants. He’s an incredibly regal guy and sort of pompous. He loves showing off, and he wears loud, beautiful fabrics and detailed embroidery. And then the noblewomen have show-stopping dresses, and there are a lot of corsets. We talked a lot about the characters wearing different styles of dress to suggest what kind of a person they are, so there’s quite a diversity in terms fashion.”