(Credit: Netflix)

Netflix News

Netflix's 'Money Heist' cast and crew talk show success

Money Heist drops the first part of its final season in September, which will mark the greatest heist in history to come to an end. One of Netflix’s most popular non-English language Spanish drama series, Money Heist has become a phenomenon.  

When Diego Avalos, the VP of Spanish original content, encountered the idea, he did not imagine the show to become such a huge sensation. In a conversation with Variety, he distinctly remembered his meeting with the showrunner Alex Pina who caught up to the VP while rushing through a hotel.

“He was rushing through this hotel, and he ran up to me and threw a pen drive in my hand,” said Avalos, “and said, ‘You have to watch this — it’s my new show,’ and then he rushed off just as quickly.” 

Following this strange encounter and after Avalos watched the content on the drive on his way back to Los Angeles, he knew he had found the next show for the streamer. 

Clad in red overalls and quirky Salvador Dali masks, the ragtag team of robbers under the omniscient Professor tries to rob the Bank of Spain to protest against the government and bureaucracy. A scathing socio-political commentary with romance, drama, killer action and chaos weaved in one, Money Heist is one of the greatest Netflix productions and a real game-changer. 

After four long years of drama, frenzy, success and glory, the first part of the finale is set to hit the streamer on September 3, 2021, which is slightly delayed due to the unprecedented coronavirus situation. 

Pina had shared how it was difficult to work during the strict lockdown regime in Spain. He spoke of how “lethargy” crippled them “without the electricity of actually going into work every day” and that “writing was a struggle”. 

Although the show was being aired on local channels such as Antena 3, gradually, viewership ratings went down, and the series was on the verge of ending. According to Tokyo, AKA Ursula Corbero, the cast and crew were prepared for the ending and had “moved on”. 

“We’d said our goodbyes, shared tears and hugs and went on to our next projects,” she said in the same conversation with Variety

However, Netflix resuscitated the project over the winter holidays, reformatting it with the vision for a global launch. However, their greatest struggle was to convince Pina to helm the show once again as the latter was quite disappointed at how things went down. 

Avalos said that being a “super passionate and emotional person” Pina thought “the story was closed”. He explained, “He hates doing the same thing twice, so he was adamant that whatever we were doing had to be different than anything we’d done before.”

He also later basked in the glory of the series and expressed his thrill and excitement at the knowledge of people trying to learn Spanish just because of the series. “I’ve heard that people around the world started studying Spanish because of ‘Money Heist,’ just because they wanted to hear our real voices. That’s fucking amazing! You can’t help but be proud of that.”

Pina revealed how he was in France when Netflix approached him to headline the show once again. “I was floored,” he said, adding, “I’d never thought about doing a third part, so I told them I needed time to consider it, and I took a full month.”

Gladly, he thought about his decision for nearly four weeks before signing the deal, which led to the third and fourth part of the series renewal in 2018. 

Pina felt free of all “boundaries” and gushed over how exciting it was to work for Netflix because “when you’re writing for Netflix, you can do almost anything”. 

Alvaro Morte, AKA the mastermind behind The Professor, explained how the cast began to adapt to the high-strung tension and started giving their best performances to live up to the exceeding expectations.  

“When we started with Part 3, we knew we had a hit and that we had to do our absolute best, but it was vital that while working, we didn’t allow ourselves to be pressured,” said Morte. “If we went into Part three thinking about the impact it could make, that’s a hard mindset to overcome.”

The reformatting really helped the show’s case, and it went from being one of the lowest-performing shows to one of the greatest and most sensational shows on Netflix. The crew filmed the third and fourth parts simultaneously in 2019 and 2020. Corbero even revealed how she was recognised on the beach in Uruguay when people screamed, “Tokyo, you’re a goddess!” That’s when she knew she was on the right path as the show’s mammoth success was “inconceivable” to her. 

Pina, too, revealed his surreal experience when two men came up to him at a French event to ask for autographs. “I think the series marked a turning point — a revolution for the acceptance of international idiosyncrasies at a time when the landscape was dominated by American fiction.”

Pina explained how hard it was to keep up the tempo during the pandemic. “When we finished Episode two, we realised it wasn’t strong enough. It was languid, conservative. So we rewrote Episode 1 and threw out Episode 2, writing each as if they were the season finale, with that kind of nerve and energy.” 

He added, “That strategy kept going, and I think that audiences will feel that almost every episode of Part five feels like a finale.”

While nothing is known about the follow-up series, Corbero revealed that it was “heartbreaking” for her to say goodbye to Tokyo, while Morte said that he would always want to go back to being the Professor. “It would be a pleasure to return to The Professor. Anything can happen.” 

While Pina has said there are “no plans for more Money Heist“, fans can only hope and dream. Now they can also live the experience of such a tumultuous heist. Not only did the show popularise Dali masks, iconic overalls and the oh-so-hummable ‘Bella Ciao’, but it also resuscitated the entire heist genre.

Watch the trailer below: