‘The Girlfriend Experience’ begins anew on Starz



The Affair's' Julia Goldani Telles stars in Season 3

Julia Goldani Telles stars in Season 3 of “The Girlfriend Experience,” premiering Sunday on Starz.

After playing an especially pivotal part in the final season of “The Affair,” Julia Goldani Telles is ready for her next cable-series experience.

The young actress certainly gets that in Season 3 of “The Girlfriend Experience,” the Steven Soderbergh-produced Starz series returning Sunday, May 2. As with the drama’s previous seasons (the last one seen in 2017), the new round tells its own story — fully written and directed by Anja Marquardt — as Telles portrays Iris, an escort and student in London. She initially approaches her job clinically as a sidebar to her major in neuroscience, but emotions increasingly factor in as she pursues her particular course of action.

Julia Goldani Telles stars in Season 3 of “The Girlfriend Experience,” premiering Sunday on Starz.
Julia Goldani Telles stars in Season 3 of “The Girlfriend Experience,” premiering Sunday on Starz.

“I’m really excited, because I’ve been a fan of the show,” the pleasant Telles says. “The great thing is that it allows independent filmmakers to come in, so my first conversations about this were with Anja. I had seen her film ‘She’s Lost Control,’ which was incredible and relevant to ‘The Girlfriend Experience,’ so I could see how she got involved in this project. I was so impressed by her vision.”

Telles appreciates that Marquardt handled the entire story creatively, since series typically involve various writers and directors over the course of a season: “I was happy to sit in the passenger seat while she drove.” The performer encountered “Traffic” Oscar winner Soderbergh several months after starting work on the show, and she recalls him being “really lovely. Obviously, he’s a legend, and it was really nice to meet him.”

Seeing Iris as a “complicated” character made doing “The Girlfriend Experience” a lock for Telles. “These women have a lot of layers,” she reflects of the show. “They’re not really sure what they’re thinking, and they always seem to be a few steps ahead of the audience. Iris is an intellectual first; she’s very methodical and very aware of her surroundings, but I think her Achilles heel is her lack of self-awareness and her desire to have power at all costs. She’s, in some ways, a very dangerous character.”

Grateful for “the safe space” she says Starz and the production company ensured for location filming in London in the coronavirus-pandemic age, the ballet-trained Telles went blonde for a sizable part of her “Girlfriend Experience” performance — which may surprise those who know her from Showtime’s “The Affair” as Whitney Solloway, a daughter of the divorced, often battling Noah and Helen (Dominic West, Maura Tierney).

“It was my idea,” Telles reports of the hair change. “I just felt like this character would want to do something very different, in inhabiting a different world. She’s smart and she’s driven, and I think (her look) just adds another element to the show.”


Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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