When Money Heist made its debut on Spanish television in 2017, nobody knew that three years down the line, it would become the most-watched non-English language series on Netflix globally. Created by Álex Pina, Money Heist has an ensemble cast comprising of actors like Álvaro Morte, Úrsula Coberó, Itziar Ituño, Pedro Alonso, Miguel Herrán, Jaime Lorente and Esther Acebo, among others. It was recently renewed for its fifth and final season by the streaming giant.
In case you are an ardent Money Heist fan, here are ten things about the Spanish show that you must know:
1. Money Heist – The popular show
After making its debut on Spanish TV with an astounding 4.3 million views, its audience fell drastically in season 2. Netflix bought the show and added it in its international catalogue, re-cutting its original 15 episodes into 22 shorter ones. It soon became the top viewed show on Netflix in six countries – France, Italy, Chile, Portugal, Brazil and Argentina. It holds an IMDb rating of 8.4.
2. La Casa de Papel to Money Heist
The show was initially titled Los Desahuciados (The Evicted). It, however, debuted on Spanish network Antena 3 in 2017 as La Casa de Papel, which means The Paper House. It got the name Money Heist when Netflix acquired it for its international audience.
3. Character creation
Denver’s peculiar laughter leads to some light moments in the show. Interestingly, this was already mentioned in the script as “trashy laughter”, and every actor who auditioned for the role, gave it his own interpretation. The way actor Jaime Lorente ultimately did it, led to comparisons with Danny Zuko’s in Grease. While the writers had specially written the role of Nairobi for Alba Flores, they had also planned to keep every gang member, terminally ill, giving them a motivation to be a part of the heist. This was later changed barring Berlin.
4. Tokyo and the name
Tokyo was the first city to get a mention in the script. The character’s name was finalised after Álex Pina arrived wearing a T-shirt with Tokyo written on it for one of the early script meetings. Names like Berlin, Moscow, Denver and others followed in the next 15 minutes.
5. The Professor
The show was planned to be narrated by The Professor. The creators then thought “it would be too narcissistic for him to narrate his own plan”. To give it a “female perspective,” they picked Tokyo.
Alvaro had to give five auditions for the crucial role. His unique style of adjusting his glasses was also the actor’s personal input.
6. The writing
Unlike other shows that are first written and then shot, Money Heist is scripted during the shoot. As a result, both the cast and crew have no idea what they’ll be shooting the next day. With little time to rehearse, the actors are sometimes sent mock videos on their phones to explain their camera movements.
7. Recreated locations and real process
The first heist’s location is the Royal Mint of Spain. There were many roadblocks to shoot here. So the crew eventually used Spanish National Research Council building because its exterior looks similar to the Mint building.
On the other hand, the gang invents an interconnecting antechamber for their second heist at the Bank of Spain. To design that, the team took lectures from a naval officer and ended up creating a real device. The show’s crew shot videos at a jewellery workshop in Spain to learn the traditional way of melting gold too. Real professionals, who supervised the melting process on the set, acted as extras in the scenes. The show finally used brass instead of gold.
8. Symbols and global impact
The show has three standout elements – red jumpsuits, Salvador Dalí mask and “Bella Ciao”. Since colour red is associated with agitation, passion and alert in the show, the art direction department used dark tones so that the colour stands out. The Dalí mask also became a symbol of political protests in several countries. At many places, they were used during robberies.
“Bella Ciao”, which was used by Italian anti-fascists resistance during World War II, also fit well with the core theme. It was even heard in various European neighbourhoods during the lockdown. So when Moscow touches the soil for the first time while digging the tunnel in the show, it symbolises freedom. Recalling the scene when Professor and Berlin sing it, Alvaro revealed the scene became “mystical” as the set was at its quietest during the shooting of the scene.
9. Celebrity fans
Money Heist found fans in celebrities like Stephen King, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé, who began flaunting the mask on social media. Brazilian footballer Neymar Jr became such a fan that he ended up doing a cameo in Money Heist, playing a monk named Joao in episodes six and eight of the third season.
10. Most difficult scenes
The crew has shot some very challenging scenes. For example, when the gang flee in a ship post the success of their first heist, it is cold, and they are shown to be in North Atlantic. But in reality, it was Phuket in Thailand with 40 degrees temperature. The cast, wearing winter clothes, had a hard time shooting in the heat.
During the underwater scene in the gold vault, soon after the crew submerged the set into the pool, the ingots loosened up and began to float. Some even shrunk. Every single ingot, over a thousand in number, were rectified in post-production editing. But, the most difficult scene was when 3 million Euros were showered at Madrid Square. From fake money bills getting jammed to unexpected rains, the crew had the hardest time.
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