By Marta Balaga
October 15, 2023
[Spanish star Miguel Bernardeau can relate to “Zorro.”]
“He has to grow up really fast. He has to decide who he wants to be and he has to do it when still very young. Which also happened to me,” he tells Variety in Cannes before the market premiere of his new show.
Following the success of “Elite,” Bernardeau has become a household name. But he doesn’t think about it when choosing his roles.
“I wish it was that simple. Also, I didn’t ‘choose’ this role – I auditioned for it seven times. Before the first one, I found out my grandfather was sick and then it went really badly. But I had this fire in me already, so I kept coming back.”
Mipcom opener “Zorro” is produced by L.A. and Madrid-based Secuoya Studios and directed by Javier Quintas. As reported by Variety, Prime Video has acquired rights for the U.S., Latin America, Spain, Andorra and Portugal. Mediawan Rights is handling other international distribution.
But despite its pedigree, Bernardeau still took his time before committing to the show.
“It was a difficult decision and a long shoot. At first, I was thinking about Zorro being this iconic character, but I decided to leave it behind. If I was going to do this, I wanted to have fun. And you can’t have fun if you are constantly wondering if you are copying someone else,” he adds.
“I just saw him as a character I wanted to play. Someone my younger self would surely admire.”
In the show, set in 1834, Diego de la Vega returns to Los Angeles after the murder of his father. A masked assassin named Zorro also died that night. But it is believed that his spirit lives on, waiting for a successor.
“I like these first episodes. They show how he is becoming a man, discovering all these secrets from the past. He is thinking about where he came from, but also about who he can become, which is something I understand,” he notes, admitting that the grueling shoot quickly took its toll.
“It was hard. I actually discovered that action sequences are not that playful. It stopped being fun somewhere around the fifth month,” he jokes. Still, the “fast-paced” version of “Zorro” was something that brought him joy.
“I want to choose projects that make me happy. There are so many shows out there that pretend to be something they are not. Not this one. There is adventure, action and characters that bring so much to the story, but it still has depth and very emotional moments.”
After the screening, executive producer Sergio Pizzolante adds: “We asked the question: ‘Why has this character never been done in Spanish, in a premium way?’ No one could answer it. The common knowledge is that if you are going to shoot something with a budget, you have to do it in English with an American cast. We decided to change that.”
As well as introduce strong female characters along the way, played by Renata Notni and Dalia Xiuhcoatl, who “connected with stories of oppression” of the Indigenous peoples.
“It was hurtful, but I used it to play this character. She is powerful – just as powerful as Zorro,” she notes, with Notni stating:
“Nowadays, women want to be represented. They deserved to be represented. The way we are, the way we feel: Empowered, inspiring. In this take on ‘Zorro,’ we are moving away from tradition. We are not expecting anyone to save us, we don’t need that.”
“This is a new version for the new generation.”
Still, taking on an icon was a big responsibility for everyone involved, admits Pizzolante.
“I remember asking people what was the coolest thing they have ever done. They would say: ‘We are in it.’ It’s a love letter to all the other versions, from Douglas Fairbanks to Tyrone Power and Banderas.”
“My wife is a singer-songwriter and I always say that singers die broke: Songwriters leave a legacy. We are in a business of creating a legacy. We were not trying to make a Spanish show. We were making a global show in the Spanish language.”
[Submitted by Michael Ferguson]