DUBAI: Ursula Corbero knew that her final day filming “Money Heist” was coming for weeks. For once, the show’s creator, Alex Pina, had chosen not to surprise the actress, one of the breakout stars of the global smash hit, with another last-minute rewrite; the day had come, and (Corbero’s character) Tokyo’s part in the heist was over. But knowing it was coming did not make it any easier.
“On that last day, I was devastated. I had been going through the process of mourning for weeks, but I still couldn’t help being sad. I was not saying goodbye to Tokyo because I have decided that at least part of Tokyo is going to stay with me. But I was heartbroken saying goodbye to the crew that had become my family for the last four years of my life,” Corbero tells Arab News.
“This is a series that has brought me a lot of intense and positive things. I have grown as a person and as an actress, so it was a sad day. This is a very demanding job. I knew that I needed to put an ending to that and move on,” she continues. “But It’s one thing to agree with Alex that it should come to an end, and another thing when you actually have to live through the last day.”
The end of the series — in its fifth and final season — is equally devastating for fans across the world, who collectively helped the show (known as “La Casa de Papel” in its original Spanish) become a phenomenon across the world when it moved beyond televisions in Spain and onto the global streaming platform Netflix. In Saudi Arabia, it became perhaps the most popular international series of all time, and certainly the most popular in the history of the platform.
The show, about a group of criminals led by a mastermind known as The Professor who attempt the biggest heist in history, has become, in the eyes of many, more than just a program. For Itziar Ituño, who plays Raquel Murtillo — the investigator-turned-member of the criminal group known as La Banda — the show has become a symbol that acts as a rebuke of corruption.
“It’s truly a social phenomenon. You're seeing people singing ‘Bella Ciao,’ the show’s signature song, when they are protesting injustice. It’s truly amazing. It makes me feel proud that it's not just another TV series done for the sake of it. It's something that’s being used to fight against an unjust world somehow. I could not be prouder of what we’ve accomplished,” says Ituño.
The fifth and final season will air in two halves, with five episodes already released and the final five coming in December. For the cast, the final part was the most grueling to film, as the show stopped feeling like a fun crime caper and morphed into a 10-hour war film, as La Banda made their last stand against the Spanish government forces from within the Bank of Spain.
“It was already hard to play our roles, but as it went on, it got even harder. We watched as it gradually became an action movie, and we had done nothing like this. It became so complex (and) was by far the most overwhelming thing we ever filmed,” says Darko Peric, who plays Helsinki.
For Rodrigo De la Serna, who plays Palermo, the grueling shoot for the final season made his own last day of filming all the more affecting.
“We spent 10 months filming this war. When it ended, I remember the sunset, looking out past the rest of the cast as we all cried as the light disappeared over the horizon. That’s something I will remember. As much as these characters had gone through something together, so had we all gone through it together. It was very emotional,” he says.
But one question remains: will the ending live up to the expectations of the show’s innumerable fans? That remains to be seen. But according to Corbero, that was, more than anything else, what they focused on delivering for the 10 months that they shot the final season, and what she and Alex Pina would spend many nights arguing over.
“I’m tempted to give you a spoiler alert, but I won’t,” Corbero says. “What I will tell you is that in this last season, we held many conversations in order to make sure that the ending would meet those expectations because we need to give this show the best legacy possible. Too much work was at stake to throw it all away now with a bad ending. And I promise you, fans will get the ending they deserve.”