Bella Ciao, Money Heist: How will hit series end?

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Bella Ciao, Money Heist: How will hit series end?
A behind-the-scenes photo of The Professor (played by Alvaro Morte) getting friendly with his ‘nemesis,’ police officer Alicia Sierra (Najwa Nimri), in Netflix’s megahit Spanish series Money Heist: Part 5.

MANILA, Philippines — Who’s ready to say goodbye to Money Heist? Netflix’s Spanish thriller premieres its Part 5: Volume 2 on Dec. 3, as the ultimate culmination to its five-season run.

The STAR spoke to some of its stars Itziar Ituno (Lisboa), Rodrigo de la Serna (Palermo) and Darko Peric (Helsinki) before the show takes a final bow, and they teased that one of the most-watched Netflix titles ever will have an explosive ending.

Created by Alex Pina, Money Heist (La Casa De Papel in Spanish) follows a genius called The Professor (Alvaro Morte) who executes heists with his carefully selected band of robbers — all wearing the now-iconic red jumpsuits and Salvador Dali masks, and named after popular cities in the world.

After Part 5: Volume 1 last September, here’s what we know so far from the continuation of the last season or the remaining five episodes to end this heist: “Tokyo (Ursula Corbero) is dead. The enemy still lurks in the Bank of Spain, wounded but as dangerous as ever. Facing their darkest hour and greatest challenge yet, the gang hatch a bold plan to get the gold out without anyone noticing. To make matters worse, The Professor makes the biggest mistake of his life.”

On a more personal level, stars ended the show with loads of memories and some secretly stashed souvenirs.

When The STAR asked during a virtual interview (with another Asian journalist) what filming was like for the Season 5 finale, Itziar described it as a quite complex experience, especially since they had to shoot through a pandemic situation.

She said, “I mean, lots of action (that were) technically very difficult. So, it required a huge amount of effort. And everything was very military, very war-like. And so that was hard and the challenge was to be there, to be able to show all the emotions in the midst of that technical effort. And we were able, despite the pandemic, to finish filming it. We made it, which I believe is huge. And it was wonderful to work with all my colleagues, I got to work closely with them and got to know them better. So, that was amazing.”

Part 5: Volume 2 scene shows Jaime Lorente as Denver, Belen Cuesta as Manila, Miguel Herran as Rio, Itziar Ituno as Lisbon and Rodrigo de la Serna as Palermo.

Did they also get to keep some stuff from the production set to remember their time with the series? Darko responded: “That’s an interesting question that I unfortunately cannot answer (laughs).”

Rodrigo quipped, “I saw him take one book,” to which Darko admitted that “I (took) several books probably,” reasoning that he’s a “method actor” trained in the Stanislavski method. And so, as he placed himself in his character as a bank robber, he jokingly said he started “robbing from everyone” like “colleagues’ watches and (I) did take the ring from Helsinki.”

Itziar, on the other hand, swore she didn’t bring home a single thing from the set “only the love of all colleagues,” to which she got teased by her co-stars “liar”. As for Rodrigo, he just “stole a lot of hearts.”

They also had some theories – from the iconography to social commentary – as to why the show became such a global phenom. Money Heist remains to be one of the most popular non-English series on Netflix (currently No. 2 after Squid Game). As recently announced on Top10.Netflix.com, its Parts 3, 4 and 5 are ranked highly in their Top 10.

“Beyond the most iconic things like the mask and the red jumpsuits, and the fact it’s very different, fantastically made, I think the archetypal roles are kind of a very functional family for a robbery. And blend that with the unease of a global population with a very unjust system that taught people to be poor. I think the combination of these things, plus the human factor on set, the humanity of all the talent involved in making this TV series, was amazing. So, I believe that that comes across the screen,” Rodrigo said.

Darko believes the show came at a time when the world was looking for content that deviated from the usual. “I believe that the world needed a non-English speaking series and Money Heist was the first one to be that popular. We’re used to seeing films from the UK and the United States, but especially in your countries, I don’t think you have ever seen a TV series from Spain? Not only in your countries, but in many other countries as well. So, I believe that’s something special.”

In a separate interview, the stars hinted at what’s to come in the finale. Apart from being “very emotional,” Rodrigo said, “The ending is well-defined and there’s a well-traced dramatic arc which was a very interesting journey for each of us, as actors, though there was also a very powerful human factor.”

Rodrigo, who described his “cruel, conflicted character” Palermo as an actor’s gift, further said, “I arrived late (in the series), I was only there for two years. There are people who have been on this program for four years. And the last year, with the pandemic and everything, everything got very difficult, right? And that can push you apart, or bring you together as a group. And, in truth, there was a very powerful human group that came together.”

Darko, on the other hand, said that if the fourth season was “exciting with Nairobi’s death and everything,” Part 5 is going to be explosive. “And when I say explosive, I’m telling you the truth, because… Explosive. I mean, (laughs) that’s it.”

He also shared how much the role of Helsinki meant to him and impacted his life.

“Look, this is one of those roles that… Like they say in English, ‘Once in a lifetime,’ no? Obviously, it’s changed my life and, of course, I started out as kind of an extra, you know, because in the first season, for the first four episodes, I (didn’t) speak, I was there as some kind of, like a sound technician (laughs), with the gun like this... But then, they realized that, ‘Holy moly! The guy can talk!’ And then, little by little, well, you know,” Darko said.

Darko Peric as Helsinki.
Photos courtesy of Netflix

He recalled that before the Money Heist, he starred in some movies and TV shows in Spain but “always, always, always” was cast as an “evil Russian, a mafioso.” However, after playing Helsinki, “Boom! Everything changed.”

“It’s really crazy... Because, of course, people always judged me by my appearance, you know? The tattoos, beard, shaved head, big, the accent… And now, shoot, I always say, ‘Before, no one would sit next to me in the subway and now they’re asking for photos.’ And all of this… it’s all Helsi’s fault. So Helsinki, come on, Helsinki changed my life.”

As for what to expect from Lisboa, the police officer-turned-lover and accomplice of The Professor, in the fifth season, Itziar said that her character will have “a commanding presence as a result of all her police experience, since she’s also a former cop and knows a bit about that as well. She knows a bit about what war is, how to make war. So, inside (the heist) with Palermo, they’ll kind of be the thinkers, the ones deciding how to do things...”

She also looked back on her journey with Money Heist. “In the beginning, I remember that I came into the auditions with a bit of… I was a little bummed out about playing a cop again because I had just played another cop for 13 years on a different show and I said, ‘Not again!’ They’re going to typecast me as a cop.

“But, of course, I realized that the characters were completely different, and that this was a different show that was told in a different way, and that different things were happening to this officer. In fact, the best part, what I liked the most of the first and second seasons, is having this major contradiction of falling in love with the enemy. That was so cool! Because, of course, contradictions like that are what we actors live for.”

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