‘Humanity will emerge stronger’: The Professor of Money Heist on COVID-19

Amid confinement and lockdown, 'Professor' Morte also has a small message for his fans in India

Alvaro Morte
The Professor, on the surface, seems dull, but Morte makes him a compelling watch | File Photo

Humanity will emerge stronger from the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, believes actor Alvaro Morte, better known as The Professor of the Spanish crime drama Money Heist in this part of the world.

‘Professor’ Morte, who recently took to Instagram to sing the Italian resistance song Bella Ciao that was featured in the crime drama, says he too is practising social distancing like the rest of the world.

As COVID-19 spreads across the globe and millions of people stay indoors, the fourth season of Netflix’s most watched non-English drama dropped on Friday. Spain is among the countries worst hit by the virus with 1,12,065 cases and over 10,000 fatalities.

‘Professor’ Morte believes this is the time for people to reflect on their roles as individuals and as part of society.

“I’m trying to be as responsible as I can, leaving my house just for the really essential things. I’m aware there are so many people working very hard and having a hard time so that the rest of us can lead as normal a life as can be,” Morte told news agency PTI over the phone from his home in Madrid.

“I try to give the time we are in the importance it deserves. We should take time to reflect what is happening, to try to be responsible individually speaking and as a society,” the actor added.

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The actor said everyone should try and bring out something positive from what’s happening, try to learn something and try to see what we can change in order to become a better society.

Morte also had a small message for his fans in India where the show is at the number one spot in the top-10 most watched shows. “I am sending all my love from here. All the strength and courage I can send through this confinement and lockdown. I hope the show entertains you a little bit,” he said.

The Netflix drama, more elegantly titled La Casa de Papel (The Paper House) in Spanish, revolves around Morte’s character bringing together a bunch of other career criminals who dress up in red jumpsuits and a Salvador Dali mask to rob the Royal Mint of Spain.

The story is beyond just a crime drama and challenges the viewers’ notions of right and wrong. Unsurprisingly, the red costumes, the Dali mask and Bella Ciao (Goodbye Beautiful) have become popular with fans world over, even featuring in real political protests. A recent video of an Italian neighbourhood singing the song during the lockdown was circulated widely on social media.

Asked about the significance of the folk anthem in the show, Morte said it is their attempt to remind the audiences the struggles of humanity and the advances it has made.

The Italian protest song was first sung by women working in paddy fields and later adopted as the anti-fascist anthem by Italian Resistance.

“I’m well aware of the icons of the show and how powerful they have been. We have the red jumpsuits, the Dali masks and the anthem Bella Ciao, which is a very interesting detail. Human beings have gone through processes that have somehow marked history. It’s something we mustn’t forget.

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“For us to put this anthem again on the table is a way of telling the audience that we mustn’t forget what we have achieved. We must try not to go backwards, always forwards,” said ‘Professor’ Morte.

The Professor, on the surface, seems dull, but Morte makes him a compelling watch, taking viewers into the mind space of the meticulous planner, who is always in control and prepared for worst case scenarios while executing high stake robberies from behind the scene.

In the fourth season of the show, the actor said, The Professor starts losing control with his gang stuck inside the Bank of Spain and his girlfriend, ex-cop Raquel, caught by the police.

“It is made complicated by enabling this character to be dragged by the things of the heart because he always says that his brain is an engine. He tries not to have anything sentimental influence what he does. It is funny to see him fall into the trap he condemns everyone about,” he said.

To make his character interesting, the 45-year-old came up with personality traits like The Professor’s habit of adjusting his glasses when he is nervous.

“I love to study my characters and include the physical point of view. I analyse the character from inside and then add gestures the physicality that, I think, goes along with the character.

“For this character, I inspired myself from the superhero universe. I find his glasses to be like a mask. I found a very specific way of doing it in this double movement. I studied a lot to include this in the character,” he said.

Asked about the change the show has brought in his life, ‘Professor’ Morte said it is a mixed bag. “On a professional level, it has changed many things. I have many projects on the table right now thanks to the show. I feel really grateful. On a personal level, it has been difficult as I feel I have lost my anonymity.

“It is not just on the streets. If I’m in a restaurant having dinner, a regular person would be having dinner with the person they’re with, and not with the rest of the restaurant but that’s no longer true for me. We are observed all the time. I try to protect my family as much as possible from it,” he added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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