Photoshoot by Jean Marc Haedrich at Paris Fashion Week

Úrsula Corberó: love, beauty and fashion, in full color!

Photoshoot by Javier Biosca for Harper’s Bazaar Spain

Úrsula Corberó is Ready for her Next Big Act

As Úrsula Corberó wrapped the final season of the global phenomenon La Casa de Papel, she was, to put it mildly, zapped. “It was exhausting”, she says from Madrid, where she’s currently filming a new project. “The characters were always feeling this anger and a lot of violence. Every time I arrived home after work, I felt evil—I wanted to hit somebody”. But over a semi-choppy transatlantic Zoom feed, the 32-year-old actor is marked by a naturally sunny, chipper disposition, so to hear her describe the anguish brought on by inhabiting Tokyo, the long-suffering robber who serves as one of the protagonists of the Netflix thriller, is jarring.

After debuting in 2017, La Casa de Papel (known in the U.S. Money Heist), which follows a group of professional thieves, quickly became Netflix’s biggest global hit, and it thrust the Barcelona-born Corberó —the daughter of a shopkeeper and a carpenter— into the international spotlight. As the series unspools part one of its fifth and final season this fall, Corberó has become a social media sensation, boasting more than 21 million Instagram followers while becoming a burgeoning fashion muse, fronting campaigns for the likes of Bulgari, Jacquemus, and Shiseido. “To be honest, everything happened so fast after the success of La Casa de Papel“, she says. “We weren’t expecting this at all, so I’m still trying to process it”.

Corberó rode out the early stages of quarantine last year with her boyfriend in Buenos Aires (she spent 10 days during that time filming the music video for the Dua Lipa/J. Balvin/Bad Bunny/Tainy hit “Un Dia”, which her boyfriend shot at their house). Now that the demands of shooting a television series are behind her, Corberó wants to embrace her newfound freedom. “My goal as a person and as an actress is to travel”, she says. “I would love to work all around the world”.

As she begins this new chapter, Corberó cites Penélope Cruz as someone whose career path she hopes to emulate. “She is my goddess”, she says. Corberó made her English-language acting debut in last July’s G.I. Joe spin-off Snake Eyes, in which she played the villainous Baroness, opposite Henry Golding. (She was offered the role without an audition, as one of the producers was a fan of her work in La Casa de Papel.) After learning English for Snake Eyes, Corberó now speaks it fluently. She explains that while confidence is key in learning a new language—”don’t judge yourself”, she advises— she can also be “very self-critical”. She pauses, and then continues, “I’m always between the angel and the demon”.

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Falabella ‘Denmin Corner’ September 2021 – Promotional

Long live the Loewe Amazona Bag

Every fashion house has its own signature bags, and for Loewe, its most popular silhouette in the past has undoubtedly been the Puzzle bag. For Fall/Winter 2021 however, Jonathan Anderson has brought back a silhouette from the archive, breathing new life into the Amazona.

Launched in 1975, the hand-held silhouette has been reimagined for the house’s 175-year anniversary. When the bag was initially released, the world looked very different, and women were only just beginning to gain more independence, so the style was reflective of that, designed to hold all your daily essentials and other things needed throughout the day.

Fast forward to 2021, the bag is back in three new shapes: the Amazona 19 Square, the Amazona 28, and the Amazona 23 which will release as part of the label’s SS22 collection. Made in Nappa calfskin, the bag arrives in a multitude of colors.

In a campaign shot by Juergen Teller, the photographer travels around the world to shoot a range of talent that embody different cultures and identities, and “capture the spirit of our moment.” The campaign features names such as Gillian Anderson, Arca, Úrsula Corberó, Tracee Ellis Ross, Liu Wen, and more.

We’ve previously seen other brands dive deep into their archives to bring back successful silhouettes from the past, such as Dior and its Saddle Bag and Fendi with the Baguette, and for fans of the labels, it also adds an additional element of excitement. For those that can’t afford a brand new iteration of the bags, there are vintage pieces available both online at sites such as eBay and Vestiaire Collective, as well as in shops all over the world. I know from first-hand experience that there are multiple vintage Loewe Amazona bags out here, so start hunting now.

If you’re looking to invest in the FW21 iteration, the Loewe Amazona is now available for purchase online, in-store, as well as at select retailers.

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The Digital Cover: Úrsula Corberó — The Laterals

Úrsula Corberó on Principles, Vulnerability, and exiting Money Heist


Úrsula Corberó exudes energy. She can open up any room, even if it is a virtual one on Zoom. There is an authenticity to this energy, and she attributes it to her Spanish heritage. She is full of passion and zeal, and over the last few years she has been able to explore her creative energy on Money Heist as the superheroine, Tokyo.

The role was made for her, but Úrsula Corberó will be the first to admit that she wasn’t ready. She was the posh girl in comedies and dramas, and felt clumsy and awkward during the first few test shoots. These feelings of vulnerability allowed her to transform because her sensitivity to these bouts of emotion was an opportunity to learn.

Fans of Money Heist saw the transformation and our benefactors of her incredible performance as an acrobatic bad-ass running toward gun fights, and leaping out of explosions. Our conversation with Úrsula ran deep, and her honesty allows everyone to understand how a leading enigmatic character is not born, but perfected and crafted over various trials and tribulations.

Money Heist is a thrilling action story from Spain entering its last, and final, fifth season. It has become a world-wide phenomenon with a storyline and action-sequences that have Hollywood’s jaw-drawing. Producers, directors, and cinematographers salivate over the amount of talent and action in each episode. It is easy to understand why when you can speak to Úrsula Corberó.

Hello. Hello. Hello. So nice to see everyone!

Wow, hi Úrsula. Thank you for the opportunity. If you don’t mind. Let’s get right into it. You got bit by the acting bug at a young age. You have been on multiple television series, and have been on many successful Bulgari and Maybelline campaigns. Which job made you feel that childhood dreams were becoming a reality?
Whoa, that is a big question. Hrmm, I am really thinking. It has to be Money Heist. After the first and second season I just had this feeling.

It must be a special feeling because you have been in horror movies, cartoons, and comedies. And now with Money Heist you have the chance to play with guns and explosives. Which of the genres do you enjoy the most?
Let me tell you… Action. It is hard work. I am very small. I am only 5’4″ and the action is super demanding on my body. As a heroine there is a lot to focus on. You have to focus on the acting, but there is also a lot of things going on in the scene. So you have to be ready, and that involves a lot of training. But, why I like action so much are the results. When you watch it on screen, that is when I can tell myself, “it was worth it”. But, when you are doing it, you feel exhausted. I would tell myself, “you can’t do this anymore”. Because action scenes are long. It can be intense, or it can be a lot of waiting and sitting around. But, when you see it, then you know it was worth it.

The original Money Heist was a two-part series that was complete in many ways. It has some nice twists at the end, and wraps things up nicely. At the end of production did you feel proud of your work?
It is hard to be objective, but I am really happy with Money Heist. Especially because a production like this is always moving. There is so much momentum because all the scenes push the story. It is always so intense, so that is why it is so important to wait for the results. While you are filming it can feel like a super mess. We are Spanish, and that means we are passionate. Sometimes it means a lot of shouting. But, you focus and wait for the results. So, thank you.

Great answer, you are leading me right into the next question. You were originally narrating the story, but Part 3 has a different tone. The dynamics of the characters change, and new ones are brought on. Did you like the new pace of what Netflix was able to bring?
This is when I realized that this was a BIG production. I also feel that each season the new characters made everything more refreshing. They can provide a new perspective, or gaze into the show. But, it also didn’t feel different. The roles were the same from before, and it was the same way of working. It can still get very messy, but it was the same energy.

Energy is definitely a big part of the show. Tokyo is incredibly fun, yet she can be a deep character. She has a rich backstory that slowly unfolds before the audiences’ eyes. She is a real bad-ass. Was it difficult to play a character with multiple complex traits?
Yes, it was super difficult. This was really new to me because before Money Heist I was in comedies. I played a lot of posh girls. When I was offered the role. I thought, “this is not me”. But, they trusted me more than I trusted myself. It was a lot of experimenting, and a lot of learning. But, I love Tokyo. She is a lot of fun, and she epitomizes the superheroine. She is this superhero, but she makes these mistakes and these mistakes bring you closer to the character. So fans don’t like that, but I think she is more relatable. I love that! She is more human.

The characters on Money Heist have a lot of unique personality attributes. Your character, Tokyo, really works well with The Professor. Why did you think you had so much chemistry with the Professor?
Sergio Marquina is super meticulous, and he is detailed about every scene. We can do a scene multiple times, and he is so disciplined that he will do that scene the same every SINGLE time. I am the opposite, and I need to feel the acting. And things can change. I have never seen someone so detailed and focused as The Professor. I guess I am more chaotic, but I need to test and fail to know how to play that particular part. We are very different, but I believe our differences generate the chemistry that you see on screen.

The chemistry is quite obvious, and I really like your explanation. Explosions and wild gun fights are a staple in Money Heist. How did you train for such exciting and realistic action scenes? Cause everything looks like it would be difficult.
YOU ARE RIGHT! Everything IS very difficult. We weren’t used to these shows in Spain. These big budget action scenes are only for Hollywood, right? And I remember when we first shot Money Heist we felt very clumsy. We were experimenting a lot, and there is so much learning. The action was super challenging in the beginning, but there was always something new. I felt vulnerable, but I love feeling vulnerable when I am shooting because it means that I will learn something new. I learned from season 1 and 2 that I had to be strong to do this. When season 3 was announced that is when I said I really need to train harder, or I could get hurt. There was more of everything, and it is so hard because I am so small. The days are long and the guns are very heavy. I remember one of the first test shoots for the show. These days can easily go 12 hours and my back was really hurting. I was looking for another position to hold the gun. So I just threw the big heavy machine gun over my shoulder to rest. “Oh, my God! THAT IS SUPER TOKYO”, screamed Jesús Marquina. But, this look is just because I couldn’t handle the gun any more. So I believe the training is important, but a lot of things happen naturally too.

This is really fun to learn because the way you play Tokyo seems so effortless. So, while the show has a lot of action it also keeps it fun and entertaining. The characters inject a lot of their own quirkiness onto the show. Which characters did you like working with and why?
Just one? It is difficult to choose one, because I love all of them. The cast is just amazing because we are so different. SUPER different. But, we are family. It has been five years together and the nature of the show is super intense. We share a lot of things, and as time passes we have even more things in common. If I were to choose one it would be Rio, Miguel Herran. He is super talented, and just so young. I don’t know if you know what this means, but he had to become an adult when he was super young. A lot of things happen to him, but when he smiles it seems as nothing bad has happened. He is pure because he is sweet and naive. I know the life that he had, and that makes him magical, and a brilliant actor. I love him, and we are super close friends. He can never surprise him. His smiles are radiating.

I can tell Toyko and Rio have this special rapport. Your answers are always leading me to a next question.
We are very connected.

Your character meets her demise in Part 5. It was a very sad and unexpected ending, especially because you were the narrator and a big part of the show. Did you feel the way the show sends you off gave your character justice?
YES! I wanted this ending, and if there was someone from the band to die it had to be Tokyo. This bank heist has already added years to her life, and this is a calling for her. I remember discussing with the writers about the possibility of jail for Tokyo. But, we all agreed that was not Tokyo. It was a risky decision, but we all agreed that Tokyo had to die. So we worked on crafting her departure. I feel like Season 5 is like an homage to Tokyo. Sometimes I regret being responsible for my character’s death, but this was the right thing for Tokyo.

Tokyo seemed to always be searching for more than just money. The way she was able to detonate the bomb, and smile before she dies was a beautiful scene. That must have been a difficult moment to shoot. What did you do to prepare for such an emotional moment?
It was super difficult. I remember having to stop shooting because I was crying. The last two weeks was just me crying. I was quite melancholy, it was a deep sadness. I remember when they said we are ready for your last scene. I was super nervous. And I thought maybe I could not act, and this scene was going to be a mess. It was going to be the worse scene of the series because I was nervous, anxious, and sad. I thought maybe I need to go to bed, and ask my mom to come from Barcelona and hug me. I was exhausted, and I knew that this was the end for Tokyo. This is life.

Money Heist was already a successful show in Spain, but Netflix and the quarantine made it into a global phenomenon. How has your life changed after the success of the show?
In many ways! The show has always been intense and that intensity grew for the last five years. The worldwide popularity is hard to handle, and it is taboo in many cultures, but I believe in therapy. I believe in the importance of mental health, and I have been more thankful of those around me. My boyfriend, friends, and family are incredibly supportive. The fame can be a nightmare, and it is important to have the right mindset and be thankful. I am just very lucky to have the education from my parents! Now that people are getting vaccinated and Europe is slowly opening, what are some of the things you look forward to doing? Go to MARS! It is hard to believe that the moment has come. I have been in fourteen countries shooting Money Heist, and it is time to sit in a nice restaurant with friends and family.

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How Netflix’s Money Heist Became a Worldwide Phenomenon

As it heads into its fifth and final season, the small Spanish drama has grown into one of the most-devoured shows in Netflix history.

Every worldwide phenomenon has to start somewhere, and in this case, that place was a hammock on a beach in Panama. There lay Álex Pina, trying to dream up his next project. It was 2016 and the Spanish producer had just wrapped Vis a Vis, a brutal drama about day-to-day life in a women’s prison. He wanted this new venture to be lighter in tone and needed it to be cheap to produce—something that he could film almost entirely in a studio but with a premise so explosive that it would make you forget you were stuck within the same four walls. As he lounged, his mind drifted toward the possibilities.

What about… a heist?

Okay, yes, a heist. Pina got together with his team and soon they were on a roll. This heist would take place inside the Royal Mint of Spain (which would conveniently satisfy the real-life in-studio requirements), where the perpetrators would take the employees hostage and print billions of euros for themselves. The show would have the flashbacks and the ballsiness of Reservoir Dogs, spiced up with the surreal black comedy of Spanish director Luis García Berlanga.​​ The characters? An outcast gang of career criminals brought together by a mysterious brainy figure known as The Professor. They were each assigned a code name corresponding to a major city: Tokyo, Rio, Berlin, Moscow, Nairobi, Helsinki, Oslo, and Denver (one of these things is not like the others), a random decision that would turn out to be inadvertently prescient. A wardrobe of crimson jumpsuits and Salvador Dalí masks would give the show a bold stamp of pop iconography.

The final product, La Casa de Papel, premiered on the Spanish station Antena 3 in 2017 and it did… pretty good! By season two the ratings cratered, and the production shut down. The cast and crew packed it in and returned to their lives and families.

But even before it first aired, Pina had slipped a flash drive with the pilot to Diego Ávalos, a V.P. at Netflix. The streaming giant had an ongoing licensing relationship with Antena 3 and Pina, which turned out to be fortuitous for both parties. “I watched it on the plane ride back to L.A. and knew there was something special”, Ávalos says.

The streaming platform asked Pina to recut it into more digestible chunks—from 15 long episodes to 22—and added subtitles and dubbing, a few small modifications that primed it for a much larger potential audience. For English-speaking markets, the show was renamed Money Heist, a title so hilariously simple that it circles back around to wild and brilliant. Otherwise, Ávalos tells me that they put exactly “zero marketing dollars” toward the first season.

It was an astute addition to the Netflix catalog. By 2018, Money Heist skyrocketed to become the most watched non-English-language program on the platform (in early 2021, that distinction belonged to Lupin, a French series about a preposterously charming thief) and cracked the top five for most watched series overall. The ability to binge without commercial breaks turned out to be exactly what was missing. “Having to wait until the following week can seem fragmented”, Pina says. “This can make the viewer not really get into the series, or into a state of addiction”. Netflix has since released two more seasons to satisfy demand, and now fans are impatiently awaiting the fifth and final season, which will drop in two parts: five episodes in September and five in December. The close hold that Netflix keeps on its streaming numbers is tighter than the security at the Royal Mint of Spain, but it has revealed that 65 million households tuned into season four soon after its release. If you made an autonomous Republic of Money Heist Watchers, it would be the 23rd most populous country in the world, sandwiched between the United Kingdom and Tanzania.

The statistics are one thing, the massive cultural wave the show kicked off is another. Take the distinct outfits the characters wear as disguises, which director Jesús Colmenar pushed for. “George Lucas says, ‘Everyone knows what the Star Wars characters look like'”, he tells me. “I wanted that same thing”. It worked: The red jumpsuits and Dalí masks began cropping up everywhere, from protests against sexist and homophobic leaders in Puerto Rico to soccer games in Greece. Real-life criminals in Brazil, India, and France staged copycat robberies. Stephen King and Neymar raved about the show, and Bad Bunny referenced it on multiple tracks. The show’s anthem, “Bella Ciao”—a protest folk song written by laborers in 19th-century Italy and then adopted by antifascist partisans during World War II—became a revitalized hit, inspiring several covers, including an EDM remix by Steve Aoki. On TV, the fictional band of thieves end up winning the hearts of the public, a parallel that played out in real life too.

Instant fame struck each of the actors in a specific, bizarre way—made even stranger by the fact that this was for work that they had long moved past. Úrsula Corberó, who portrays Money Heist’s feisty narrator, Tokyo, breaks into an electrifying grin when she remembers how the realization of her celebrity hit her. At the end of 2017, she was at a New Year’s Eve party in Uruguay with her boyfriend and his family. “Suddenly everybody started coming up to me and saying, ‘Tokyo, you’re a goddess, you’re incredible, I love you'”, Corberó tells me rapidly. Not quite understanding what was happening, she thought: What are the odds that all four people who watched the show happen to be at this party right now?

Miguel Herrán, the actor behind Rio, a boyish hacker and Tokyo’s love interest, says he watched his Instagram followers tick-tick-tick up from 50,000 to 1 million over the course of a 45-minute car ride. Esther Acebo, or Stockholm, so named because she’s a bank employee who’s held hostage before switching sides, was also overwhelmed by a flood of social media attention. “My phone started beeping like crazy, kind of like a slot machine where all the cherries line up”, she says. “Then it just turned off”. Pedro Alonso, who plays Berlin, the gang’s resident sociopath, says he was in Florence admiring the statue of David, “just studying this beautiful sculpture”, when he suddenly realized that everyone else in the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze was staring at him instead of Michelangelo’s masterpiece.

Pina recalls driving through Italy with the actors shortly after fans started losing their minds. “People were running after us like we were the Rolling Stones”, he tells me. “We thought: The world is upside down. What’s happening?”

But why Money Heist? And why—no, how—did it keep us captivated when the temptation of constant entertainment is a mere smartphone tap away and we all have the attention spans of Petco goldfish? Well, for starters, the series grabs you within the first minute and hooks you up to a steady IV drip of high-octane action. The twists are constant and clever: Think Soderbergh, but with the melodrama cranked up to 11. For all the show’s fun, it also taps into the widespread anger and indignation bubbling in the aftermath of the worldwide financial crisis. “The series is meant to entertain, but an idea runs underneath. Skepticism toward governments, central banks, the system”, Pina told The Guardian last year. Another bit of universal appeal? The characters are lovable, well wrought, and, let’s be frank, genetically blessed. If there’s one thing humanity can agree on despite our differences, it’s that we enjoy watching supremely hot people fight and have sex.

After the first two installments hit big, Netflix came to Pina with a proposal to revive the show for a third season. So in late 2018, he got the gang back together, satisfying their implacable urge to heist by having them attempt to rob the Bank of Spain of its gold reserves. Long gone were the days of swinging in a hammock, trying to devise ways to keep costs down. The Netflix backing meant something crucial: money. Lots of it.

Javier Gómez Santander, the head writer, recalls the most immediate effects of this change. “I’ve always wondered, ‘How would it be to write with a big budget?'” he says. “And you realize what it is when you write on your script that it’s actually raining money and it happens. When you write on the script, ‘This takes place in Panama or in the Philippines’, and nobody says no. It actually happens”.

Even though Money Heist concludes this winter, its unexpected global success will undoubtedly be studied for years by executives eager to bottle lightning again. It provides hard evidence that the rules of the entertainment game have shifted in real time. And Netflix, which has set up shop in over 190 countries and has a frighteningly powerful algorithm, is the undisputed juggernaut in this new landscape. The platform makes it possible to go to one place to watch a heady Weimar Republic epic from Germany (Babylon Berlin), a supernatural Egyptian horror series set in the 1960s (Paranormal), or a South Korean medieval zombie drama (Kingdom), all from the comfort of your couch.

Streaming puts a dent in American cultural hegemony by allowing viewers to get served stories directly from all over the world—though not always in their original or intended form. Foreign shows on the app default to the more awkward dubbed setting for first-time watchers, for instance, because of the data-driven (though perhaps imperfect) assumption that this will inspire more people to watch. Money Heist, in part, spurred Netflix to invest hugely in the quality and scope of their alternative-language options, expanding the idea of what a show’s target audience could be.

More than that, it helped expand the idea of what makes for a global story. If Netflix nabbed Money Heist‘s creators a gargantuan viewership, it didn’t alter the inherent DNA of what they were making. “We didn’t want to turn our backs on Spain. We’ve got this Latin passion”, Colmenar explains. “We don’t betray this essence at all in the third and fourth seasons. In fact, we actually have some very specific Spanish references—maybe even more than were included in the first and second seasons”.

Instead of sanding down cultural idiosyncrasies in the hopes of arriving at a big and bland common denominator, they’ve triumphed by employing some old-fashioned storytelling wisdom: The specific is universal. And Money Heist‘s success is a lesson that it’s always worth peering outside your bubble, even and perhaps especially if your bubble is a country that believes itself the center of the universe. Case in point: The show did not do as well in Anglophone areas as it did everywhere else, but it still surpassed Tiger King in viewers.

For Netflix, Money Heist didn’t change its strategy, per se, but it did affirm it. “It just solidifies the fact that great storytelling can come from anywhere”, Ávalos says. “It’s no longer Hollywood determining what stories can work around the world”.

The actors feel the shift too. “Here in Spain you actually hear, ‘Hey, I like the show even though it’s Spanish’. That was the way we used to talk about it”, Acebo says. “I have the feeling that Money Heist has changed the way people regard Spanish fiction. It’s like suddenly a window has opened”. That includes room for criticism: Herrán, for example, thinks that his character could have been “much more” interesting. “I’m a hacker who, in four seasons, never touches a computer”, he says, smiling. “Also, the way I have to handle my relationship with Tokyo—there are things I personally would’ve done differently. But then again, maybe that’s why the show is a success, because the professionals are the ones handling it”.

The show has, however, reoriented the career arcs of its actors in meaningful ways. To make it internationally as a Spanish talent, you previously had to go through Hollywood or be Pedro Almodóvar. But take Corberó, who starred in the American action flick Snake Eyes this summer and has the highest crossover potential. “Imagine you are a Spanish actress. Before, if you had wanted to work in the United States, you would have had to go to the United States”, she says. “Now what has happened is, without leaving our homes, they are watching a series in the U.S. that is not even in English. It’s a Spanish series. This makes me really proud”.

A few days before the Money Heist finale was due to be shot, the entire script was scrapped and reworked. The writers had always worked up until the last minute, right as filming is happening, but this pressure was something else. After all, they had to try to nail the ending while a formidable percentage of the planet was watching, as if they were navigating a moon landing.

“We just didn’t sleep”, Gómez Santander tells me. “We’d be on the phone with each other early in the morning. We were obsessed. I told Álex I didn’t think I would ever get another night of decent sleep in my life until we finally wrote something we liked”. Corberó says, “I don’t know what came over me over the final two weeks, but I couldn’t stop crying. They even had to stop the shooting”. Herrán believes viewers will be pleased with the ending “but for one simple reason—most people like the things I don’t like, like series and things whose success is a mystery. So I’ll start to worry the day I think something is going really well”.

Even with the show wrapped and their futures once again wide open, Money Heist‘s stars are still processing how to be famous. Corberó and Herrán, the two biggest names, tell me that they’ve ended up spending much more time at their homes in Madrid to avoid attracting attention when they go out. Corberó says she sought out therapy to process the shift, saying that it’s “important to do things like that, to keep yourself grounded”. Herrán, meanwhile, has been exceedingly open about how fame has affected his mental health. “I always ask people things I find interesting on social media, like ‘Are you happy with the society in which we live?’ And people aren’t happy”, he says. “I don’t want people to believe that just because you’re famous, you’re happy. And that love, money, work, and life, everything is just fine and great because you’re popular. I’m still a human being like anyone else”.

Fans are clamoring for character spin-offs, and though Pina does not confirm anything in the works, he says that he thinks Tokyo, The Professor, Berlin, and Denver could all carry one. In any case, the Netflix perpetual motion machine keeps grinding along: It’s currently in the midst of producing a South Korean remake helmed by director Kim Hong-sun.

The creators are keeping the details of the final two-part season of Money Heist close to the chest, but they tell me it has been conceived of as a kind of war. As the grand breaking point between the beloved characters and the state, with all the attendant messiness and intensity and difficult decisions that come with that. It’s one last chance to flex a bit, to show just how big they’ve made it since the early days. “We built an entire set—this huge set that only lasted a minute and a half before we exploded it”, Ávalos eagerly shares. And it will, inevitably, include some heartbreak—as Colmenar puts it: “A victimless war is hard to find”. But regardless of the outcome, they’ve managed to convince the world to watch and care about a small local story—and isn’t that, in itself, a victory?

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Úrsula Corberó is Coming for Hollywood’s Badass Action Roles

Úrsula Corberó was at a New Year’s Eve party in Uruguay when a handful of strangers approached the then little-known actor to proclaim her “a goddess”. “What a coincidence—the only four people who’ve seen La Casa de Papel are at this party”, Corberó, who at that point had only ever worked on small projects in her native Spain, recalls telling her boyfriend.

Technically, Corberó’s admirers hadn’t seen La Casa de Papel, but Money Heist—Netflix’s re-edited version of the show that came and went without any fanfare on Antena 3, a local Spanish network, in 2017. After she wrapped shooting Money Heist, Corberó barely gave the series another thought. Meanwhile, it had become an overnight sensation. Forget Spain—the show was suddenly a full-on hit across the globe. Within four months, Money Heist was the most-watched non-English series in Netflix history—a “cultural phenomenon”, as the streaming giant put it in a 2020 documentary about the craze. And Corberó was a key part of it: Her beloved character Tokyo is a fan favorite among the motley crew of bank robbers at its center, and narrator of all the action.

And yet, if you’re American, there’s a good chance you won’t recognize the face currently front and center at the top of the Netflix homepage, signaling the long-awaited arrival of the first part of Money Heist‘s fifth and final season. (Antena 3’s plans to call it quits after two seasons, citing lack of audience and interest, remain a distant memory.) Corberó only recently began making a splash among English-speaking audiences, having learned the language herself about two years ago. Not that you’d be able to tell from her Hollywood debut alongside Henry Golding in the action-hero movie Snake Eyes earlier this summer. Corberó had even herself fooled. Speaking over Zoom from her apartment in Madrid, she recalls her reaction upon seeing her final performance: “Who is this person? You liar!”

Corberó, who grew up near Barcelona, was just six years old when she realized acting was her “trade”. At least, that’s what her mom tells her; as a child, she was evidently so convinced that her mom and dad, a fishmonger and carpenter, set off on a daunting quest to track down a child talent agency. In 2002, at age 13, Corberó finally made the leap from advertising to acting. It took a number of years and small Spanish-language TV shows, but she finally made a splash as a troubled adolescent in the racy teen drama series Física o Química in 2011. More increasingly high-profile series followed, including the period drama Isabel and the sitcom Anclados, costarring Rossy de Palma. (Still, apart from Money Heist, her highest-profile role to many Americans is the music video she self-shot for “Un Día”, J. Balvin’s collab with Tainy, Dua Lipa, and Bad Bunny, while in lockdown last summer.)

Corberó has always stayed booked and busy, but until recently, only ever in Spain. (Netflix baffled the Money Heist cast and crew with the news that they would begin shooting season 3 in actual Thailand, not the makeshift version they’d previously created in Madrid). The changes in location and production level felt monumental, but were nothing compared to what the actor found when she stepped onto the Snake Eyes set in Vancouver. She literally couldn’t understand what was going on. “I had, like, two sentences: ‘Yeah, sure, of course’, or ‘Oh, yeah'”, she recalls with a laugh. If those failed, she’d simply smile and nod.

Naturally, that made for quite the challenge when it came to filming—especially because Corberó plays the Baroness, the terrorist group Cobra’s resident badass who rightfully gets to use the PG-13 film’s single allotted F-word. Unfortunately, Corberó had the most difficulty understanding the film’s director, Robert Schwentke. Ever mystified by his feedback after each take, she’d simply try something different each time. “I was like, I don’t know what he wants exactly, so I’m just going to try something else”.

Her efforts paid off. Snake Eyes ends perfectly poised for just what producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has told Corberó he has in mind: a Baroness spin-off. “It’s not a fact, but a lot of people are talking about it”, the actor says, clearly thrilled. The Baroness is not, as Corberó put it, “a huge character” in the reboot of the G.I. Joe franchise (Sienna Miller played her in the original), but the demand is clearly there: When I saw the film in theaters, for example, the audience full-on cheered each time she pulled a move like digging her towering stilettos into the body of a man she’d just knocked unconscious. “I still want to go a little bit more deeply with her”, along the lines of a Black Widow, Cruella, or Harley Quinn, Corberó says. “I think it’s really nice to see the human parts of these villains, and these female characters with such powerful attitudes”. Corberó is grateful to have already had experience with such a role in the form of Tokyo, whom she describes as “a little bit more chill, more mature” in the show’s final chapter. (But her character is still impulsive enough that fans post questions on Reddit like “Why is Tokyo so fucking stupid?”)

There is, however, one thing Corberó won’t miss about playing Tokyo: her weekly visits to the physical therapist. “The [Money Heist] characters are always in this constant violent behavior, and that’s not good for your neck or your head or your back”, she says with a laugh. “The producers, the creators—they’re rock n’ roll. They just want to do as much as possible, as risky as possible, and sometimes you just want to cry”. Despite having actually feared for her life on occasion, Corberó, for her part, has no regrets: “You know that you are taking the risk, but that’s part of its magic”.

The role of the Baroness hasn’t been without its own physical demands: Those stilettos may look glamorous, but took such a toll on Corberó’s back that she soon had trouble simply getting out of a chair. The actor is ready to take the Baroness’s action scenes to Tokyo level, but first up, she’s tackling something just as, if not even more, difficult: “My goal is to speak English without getting tired”, she says with a laugh. “That is my goal in life right now”.

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