Pedro aka Berlin from Money Heist: I’m more tied to Indian mythology and culture than to movies | Web series
You can love to hate him, or hate to love him after all, Money Heist’s Pedro Alonso aka Berlin is a character that puts you under your skin. Clever but a man of fewer words, sometimes idiosyncratic, his characters leave an impact that stays with you after his death on the show. In a candid conversation with us, Pedro talks about his character’s trajectory on the show, the OTT boom, and the influence of Indian culture, meditation, and mythology in his life.
For non-Spanish speaking countries, especially India, to fall in love with Money theft, was quite unexpected. What do you think of that one thing about your show that caught Indian audiences?
I’m gonna come to your country to have this conversation (Laughs). But, maybe, until the other day, the convention was that Americans would say to the whole world, “How is that thing? And suddenly a little creature from the Spanish industry appears and says: “We want to have a proposal here”. And the Americans look to us and say, “What, who are you? And we fight with a convention, ‘No it’s impossible, who are you to try this.’ I got sympathy from all the people, in the midst of their troubles of the last year, those who weren’t the majority, the Italians said to me, “Oh, we did it”. This part of the phenomenon that we can win too, we can be in the center of their storyline too, together, worked for our show.
I remember the first big festival that we won in Monaco, the director told me: “We are going to win for the first time today”. Maybe he wanted to empathize that Latins can do it too. But ultimately, I saw that this is an aspect where we open a door to be competitive in a particular way not immediately, with our idiosyncrasies. I will appreciate the cinematography of Americans, I don’t mean to say that I don’t like the work of a lot of actors. I love (Hollywood actors) Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, but sure enough, now we’re starting to believe that we can find a way to create our own personal designs and be competitive with those credentials. And this is the path for all of us.
Any references you can mention from the Indian film industry? An Indian actor you’ve heard of or his work?
No idea. In recent years in Spain we have been hosting Bollywood productions and they have had a moment of presence here. Bollywood, to me, was a surprise for the level of production and the scale of the Indian industry. But, the same is happening with us. We were here in our country and suddenly we are flying around the world.
I’ve seen Indian movies sometimes, but I have nothing to do with Indian actors on a serious level, to be honest. If you ask me to quote a Bollywood movie, I will have no idea. But, it happens to me all the time. I have a short memory and am terrible with names. But I am more tied to the mythology of your country. If you see the paintings I do, I like the mythology of Indian culture and the old knowledge of your culture. It’s something that says in my heart in a deeper way than cinematography.
Have you ever been to India to derive all these references in your paintings? What else from Indian culture do you connect with?
I have never been to India but I really want to go. It is one of my challenges to go more towards the East because in my personal philosophy, the East is very pleasant. In addition, I have a personal connection to meditation, it has changed the way I breathe over the past 15-17 years. As you know, the cocoon of the path of meditation comes from your country, and I want to touch it with my fingers. I’m really interested in this way of seeing the world and saying what we see in our lives.
You have already worked a lot Money theft caused a sensation among the Indian public. If ever an opportunity arises to star in a Bollywood film, will you take it?
I love to travel and I do it all the time I can. And like I said, I don’t have figures from other cultures but I have different figures from Indian culture here. But, one of the things that I haven’t done so far in my life is travel to the Indian subcontinent, and I will. I don’t know when, but I will for sure. And luckily, if I can one day act in a movie in India, and stay in India and work in your country, that’s going to be great for me. I’ll do it if life allows me.
There is so much curiosity and excitement among Money theft fans in India for the final season. As an artist, is it easy or difficult for you to keep that interest intact when you are part of such a long series?
As you know, I started doing this show playing a dark role, and I enjoyed it in a serious way. But at the end of the first season, I’m dead, and towards the end of the series, after the series is going to continue, the writers told me that they wanted to continue with my role, and I said, I going to be able to help with this role if I’m dead because the most important point of the role was to be present and to be chaos. And that obliges me, me and the writers, to reinvent the role, and after its dark side, it was necessary to propose the luminous side of the role. So now in the final season we’re going to find an explanation as to what made the role grow in this particular way. Also, I work backwards, not towards the future, but I go towards the past.
Since I know more and more about the role every time I do it, I become the first spectator of it. So, I have the same curiosity that you have to see what happens last season. We know the people at Money Heist write and write and write over and over again, so you see something in the script, and after that you see something else in the final cut. I have an incredible curiosity to see all the pieces of the puzzle that we are going to fit in for the last time, and then we all see what happens with that.
Berlin is one of the most layered characters that evolves with every scene. It is good at one point and becomes bad the next. While playing a role you don’t necessarily have to be like them in real life, are there any traits of Berlin that you identify with?
Yes Yes! I do not imitate. When I work or play as an actor, I don’t act to find two imitation scenes. I discovered that was not my way. I’m trying to find notes in the role that match my notes. I’m Berlin, but in a very specific side of my nature, and that’s what I amplify on screen. There are two things I would like to say – the first is about how the role breathes. She is a character who breathes at a different speed and is able to stop time and look at life with the freedom to take up space to indicate emotions. It’s incredible for me, because the mystery of the actors is to be able to stop time.
Secondly, I think what has interested me more and more is that Berlin is an intelligent man and is able to take his time, look at the person and start to dissociate between the brain, the heart and the acts. He is perverse but he can recognize the inconsistency and then he starts playing. This tool is almost like an epiphany.
After the show was released on an OTT platform in India, audiences became addicted to it for the variety it offers – fight, action, romance, betrayal, thrill, suspense et al. Do you think the web has made it easier for a Spanish show to become a global sensation?
Of course yes. Five years ago, I couldn’t imagine that I would be sitting in Spain talking to the Indian people. This is something new for all of us. But at the same time, it offers a whole new world of possibilities that we are starting to explore. Somehow I feel like we stole general American cinematography and made it and played it in our Latin, in our minority way, giving them something more emotional. The writers are super ambitious, they work with these aspects of the style that the show has all the emotions mixed into one. And last season is something epic like a war as they try to renovate with every try and with the nuances get us in trouble over and over again (Laughs).
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