The breathtaking first season of Apple TV+ drama Drops of God was deeply, compulsively consumable, just like the fine wine on the show itself. A fascinating portrait of obsessives consumed by a familial burden — and the promise of millions — the season wrapped today with a fantastic finale.
Cult of Mac spoke to lead actor Fleur Geffrier about the process of inhabiting a wine expert’s palette, the challenges and lessons she learned while making Drops of God, and how to make the internal external.
An interview with Fleur Geffrier of Drops of God
Based on the manga of the same name, Drops of God concerns Camille Léger (played by Geffrier), a woman whose world is rocked by the death of her estranged father, Alexandre Léger (Stanley Weber), which sends her on a sudden plunge into the world of high-stakes wine sales and knowledge.
Camille is thrust into a sort of duel with Issei Tomine (Tomohisa Yamashita) for her father’s fortune. Each must prove they understand wine and the lessons Alexandre tried to impart to them, the things about wine that make life worth living. I spoke to the charming Geffrier about the show as its last episode was about to air.
Cult of Mac: I write about TV for a living, so can get used to the idea that I’m never going to see anything truly new and exciting. So I was pleasantly surprised when this show looked at first, and then acted at last, like very little else on television. When you began reading these scripts and then performing this character, what was it like to discover what Camille’s journey in this world was going to be?
Fleur Geffrier: I really enjoyed having such a good time with Camille. I felt really close to her. I felt it when I read the script. I was visualizing myself in the scenes; it was weird and special and intriguing. When I was on set, it was simple! I don’t know how to explain it. The work we did with the director Oded Ruskin — we got along and we understood each other quickly and well. I knew my lines by heart right away, and I came on stage and Camille was there! I felt really close to her in many ways. Sometimes I was surprised because she’s kind of funny. That surprised me a little, to be honest.
Bringing the character of Camille to life on Drops of God
Cult of Mac: So much of the show is about Camille’s thought process, the way she thinks about things, remembers them, intuits them. It’s very much about externalizing what are by nature very internal processes.
Geffrier: It’s interesting because in fact all the process she goes through … the first thing is to be in, to experience the sensation of the wine. Then there’s the inquiry she does with her friends. It’s inquiry about wine but it’s mostly about her father. She tries to bond with him through this; it’s very intimate, all of this. It’s something from the gut.
For instance when Camille describes a wine … I really tried to feel everything she was feeling. How a taste can change you. A smell that connects with memory. We all know how it feels to remember something and feel those things. Camille was much the same; I tried to connect with her inner child.
Getting inside Camille’s belly, not her head
Cult of Mac: She’s a very tightly wound character, but as you say there is a lot of humor. How do you walk that tightrope without overthinking it? I would think that would be an extraordinarily difficult task.
Geffrier: It’s totally to do with intuition. Emotions. Feelings. It’s all happening in the belly, like here [she indicates her stomach], it’s not here [she points to her head], and she tries to put into words what she feels. The wine, her emotions, her father. She discovers the wine and at the same time, she reconnects with her own history. She rediscovers herself.
Cult of Mac: And to handle all of this while also working through a whole universe of terminology relating to a discipline that must have seemed so alien before the show started …
Geffrier: I watched some real sommelier tests, which was quite impressive. I trained with a French sommelier named Sébastien Pradal for a morning. We came to his restaurant, he opened some wine and he made us smell it and taste it at 9 in the morning. That was kind of funny. You can get a little drunk on two hours of smelling. You can feel your head spinning a little.
Just to reassure you, on the set we were mostly drinking water. Food is the worst. You can see on some shows, like I remember on Big Bang Theory, I watched it a lot and they’re eating salad but they’re just doing this [she mimes poking a plate with a fork and laughs]. If you put food in your mouth, you have to do it again and again and again. There is a scene in the second episode where I drink a full glass of wine. It was grape juice. I think we did 16 takes? Ten or 15. By the end, my belly was making weird noises. I can’t drink that anymore, that’s for sure. We had real wine for filming close-ups because you can see the tears of the alcohol and you can always tell when it’s not real. The first time I did it, I was nervous.
We got some training on how to hold a glass, first things first. What does a sommelier do? How do they train? How do they work? It’s kind of a superpower but it’s mostly training. It’s like telling a story. It’s like being an actress, actually. You have to tell a story about the wine and catch the audience and make them believe their story. I think most of the time, it doesn’t matter what the wine is, it’s about how you tell the story. How you develop an idea, which is the same thing I do in my job.
Cult of Mac: Of all the things you learned, what surprised you most?
Geffrier: I learned about me and my job. I learned to be in the moment. To be present. To relax and trust yourself. I bonded with the crew — we were all in it together as a team, as a big family. I felt like I was at the right place at the right time with all those people. I learned a lot about wine, of course. I feel more confident in choosing wine at a restaurant.
The best moments in Drops of God
Cult of Mac: Probably my favorite moment on the show happens in the penultimate episode when Camille is about to enter what she thinks is the last challenge, and she goes to the closet in her hotel room and finds a suit hanging there. And you filled this couple of seconds with such meaning and portent; the suit seems to represent the figure of her dead father, but also the person she could have been.
Geffrier: I remember that moment, it was special. It was all prepared for her, and she’s still alone in this final. In this moment, she’s alone. She’s entering this room and doesn’t know what’s going to happen, and she thinks it’s the end, the last challenge, and then she sees this costume.
You totally get it — the absent father, maybe her future, maybe another life she could have lived. She didn’t choose this life. She agreed to some of it, but she didn’t choose so much of her life, even her decisions aren’t for her. It was really solemn.
About that Drops of God season finale …
Cult of Mac: I was surprised by the ending, having been trained by a lot of prestige TV to expect a less sunny outlook. How did you feel about it? To me, it felt like the contest could have gone the other way. I was conflicted and nervous. By the end, I wasn’t sure what I wanted.
Geffrier: What did you want to happen?
Cult of Mac: I don’t know! I mean, I feel like your character could have handled the disappointment better! Issei is so disciplined and his emotions are at a further remove and your character was a little more used to life. It would have been more devastating for Issei if he lost as opposed to Camille. I felt for him!
Geffrier: What she’s reacting to is that she thought she was getting to know and bond with her father, to know the person he was, but then she realizes he’s not the person she thought he was. There’s a scene where she asks Lorenzo about Luca, when she finds out he’s only concerned with money. She asks, “Do you think my father was like this?” She doesn’t know, but he says, “I don’t think so, no.”
And he isn’t but he’s still horrible. She’s devastated, she thinks maybe the whole thing was a way to bond with her brother, but no. She realizes he’s just this guy who wants the best of his kids to … well, it’s really fucked up. What does he think, he’s god? She feels betrayal, and even more so when she realizes her father was cheating on her mother. Why do you do that? You ask for the drops of god. She takes it really hard and this look on her face … she has a big temper.
Cult of Mac: Is it safer and/or easier for you to try and find the emotional content of the character inside of yourself, in your past experiences, or to invent it from whole cloth?
Geffrier: Invention. I always try to step into my character’s shoes, their body, to feel what she feels. Not to try and remember how I dealt with any emotion in the past. I try to really imagine what Camille would have felt.
Watch Drops of God on Apple TV+
The entire first season of Drops of God is now streaming on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper and But God Made Him A Poet: Watching John Ford in the 21st Century, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.