On Saturday, November 14th, the Roma Fiction Fest had a special event which saw the former protagonist of Game Of Thrones, the Scottish actor Richard Madden, screenwriter Frank Spotnitz, the director of Rai Fiction Eleonora Andreatta and producers of Lux Vide Luca and Matilde Bernabei. In a world exclusive, the group has talked about the new Italian-American co-production (realized with the support of Big Light Productions and Wild Bunch) focusing on the adventures of the Medici family, bankers and patrons of Renaissance Florence, from which descended one the most influential people in the cultural landscape of the time, Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Medici – Masters of Florence, however, won’t be about Lorenzo the Magnificent (at least, not season 1). The Bernabei brothers and Spotnitz announced, in front of an audience excited for the presence of Madden, that the series will deal with the origins of the family, starting from the events that occurred between Giovanni de Medici, who will be played by Dustin Hoffman, and his son Cosimo (Madden). The series will last eight episodes and will debut on Rai (Italian public TV) next fall.
A family with a fascinating history
“I did not know the history of the Medici very well,” said Spotnitz, “and I was surprised: I knew they were important to the Renaissance and had acted as patrons for all the arts. But I was not aware of their influence in the world economy. Their banking practice allowed the improvement of the living conditions of the low social classes and the birth of the middle class. In fact, the series will focus not only on this: the key to the story is the father-son bond between Cosimo and Giovanni. It will contain everything: love, intrigue, politics, murder, conspiracy. It’s really a beautiful story. “
An ambitious project
After the screening of a few minutes with a scene from the first episode of the series, the producers, Luca and Matilde Bernabei, started their speech. Both didn’t hide the difficulties encountered during the production of the series, but by their words reflected an admirable dedication and determination for the project, considered very ambitious, as well as a great love for Italy and its importance within the series: “Millions of people every year go to Florence and are amazed by paintings and palaces without knowing what is behind these monumental works,” said Bernabei, “we then took this idea to talk about who invented all this: the Medici, of course. We want to tell the story of those who, with great difficulties, managed to create something great. We obviously had to choose partners as Big Lights and Wild Bunch for the realization of the series, and we have already received interest from televisions around the world, from Australia, France, Germany, Spain, and we are negotiating also with the United States. We also were actually scared, just like the Medici, when they decided to do something big and expensive that did not exist before. Funding for this series was complicated. It is extremely easy to talk to the American and European TV, but then if you have projects that have no history of quality behind, Italians are not considered. So we must be the best and we have to work harder to bring our projects abroad.”
A series made in Italy
“The Medici was filmed in real places,” continued Luca Bernabei, “which you usually do not, given the obvious difficulties. Putting up these productions Italy requires a lot of money and a lot of enthusiasm. We were happy when Frank agreed, dreams come true when people have your same vision. We were interested in the theme of the dream, the realization of something big. It is one of the reasons why we wanted to make this series in the hope that the ambition of greatness comes back to this country. We must not be afraid to have dreams bigger than ourselves. ” And the quality of the cast and crew with whom he worked adds: “To tell the world we needed creativity is very important. We turned abroad for some roles, but we wanted to keep the rest of creativity in Italy: the Sartoria Tirelli for example, they designed the costumes, the sets were made by Francesco Frigeri. We wanted Italy to be in every frame. What I want is to convey beauty, but we also think that to do this we need great professionals, as American actors. Without them, it is impossible that our products are seen around the world. When we found ourselves alone with Dustin Hoffman for us it was an immense emotion. “
From Game of Thrones to the Medici
It is then the turn of Richard Madden, who explains: “I knew the name of the Medici, but nothing more. I learned a lot from the script and the books about this family, Frank has made these people alive, it is literally dipped in history creating the characters really futuristic at the time. The most important concept of the series is that it teaches to do something for the greater good, to not only take care of yourself and what you want selfishly, we are always focused on this today. Instead, it’s beautiful to think that there existed a family like this, who has dedicated his life to making something higher, which lasted hundreds of years, which has brought wealth to everybody. We now no longer think so, we no longer think in terms of “what will happen in three hundred years?”. They have done it, they have not been selfish “
The actor participates in the Festival also with another historical drama, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Asked by Detassis if he has a natural passion for this kind of drama, Madden stated: “I like the historical drama, in this case, what drew me in The Medici was the universal scope of these characters. I love the modern drama, but there is something that attracts me in Cosimo, who interacts with fantastic places, frescoes, paintings, they’re truly epic! They are things that today don’t surprise us because we have more computers and cell phones, but for them these frescoes were a bit like the cinema. In the end I began to dream in that world, I saw paintings while sleeping. And then they had the costume. That, as you know, I like! “.
Madden is then asked to recount the experience on the set with an Italian production and crew. The actor, smiling, replied: “As an actor, I do not know the budget, but did not see huge differences between the set of Game of Thrones and the one of The Medici. I only noticed a big difference between a British set and an Italian set, and it is that in Britain you plan everything in detail; Italians, however, do not plan anything, are the best improvisers in the world and are the most creative. Every day the set was live! The Italian actors arrived always super prepared and with them I created a British-Italian family and discovered a lot of affection between the cast and crew, they have virtually created a playground where I’ll be happy to go back to work. ”
Among the Italian actors in the cast of The Medici, Alessandro Preziosi will figure in the role of Brunelleschi, other Italian actors will be Miriam Leone, Sarah Felberbaum, and Alessandro Sperduti.
And who remembers that maybe The Medici might resemble another set in costume, The Borgias, Matilde Bernabei responds, patriotically: “The basic concept of The Borgia was a Pope who went with women, saying nothing about Italy. Our work is different because of that. And the concept of “series in costume” is an oversimplification. We hope we have realized something quite different.”
“But at least, in The Medici, there will be love stories?” asked finally the director of Ciak. The last word, of course, is up to a winking Richard Madden: “Well, the only thing I can say is that we will see more than one.”