Sarah Parish and Daniel Sharman on dynasty dramas, lockdown and the final series of Netflix’s epic Medici: The Magnificent

BT TV catches up with the stars of the Netflix medieval drama series to discover some secrets about the making of the Medici story.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 04 May 2020 - 2.33pm
Netflix

Medici: The Magnificent is a hidden gem in the Netflix back catalogue. An epic drama about the Italian family at the heart of the Renaissance, the show’s third and final season has just been released.

Warning: Spoilers ahead

Season three picks up where the dynasty series last left off with the fall-out from the Pazzi conspiracy and Lorenzo Medici (Daniel Sharman) seeking justice for the death of his brother.

The final episodes are a story of ambition, revenge and a battle for legacy in the show’s darkest series yet.

BT TV spoke to Daniel Sharman, who plays Lorenzo, and Sarah Parish, who plays his mother Lucrezia, about what fans and newcomers can look forward to in the closing chapter of the story.

1. How does the death of Giuliano (Bradley James) impact season 3?

Daniel Sharman: The whole season is more centred round the family and the world that has been built by Lorenzo. We join a few years after the death of Giuliano. There is a sense that things have moved on but that tragedy plays a really big part in the ambition of the family.

And also the fear that at any point everything might be lost. There is an interesting look at ambition, legacy. The first few episodes are really seeing what has been built and the the last few episodes is about the loss of all of that.

Sarah Parish: Medici three is a lot darker than Medici two.

2. Fans of the show are incredibly passionate. Why do you think it has captured the imagination?

Daniel Sharman in Medici Netflix

Sharman: I think what I love about it is that it has everything. I read a lot of stuff about the Medici and the family and I just couldn’t believe it was all true and really happened.

It’s got violence and sex and art and it’s very easy to get lost in that world. People want to immerse themselves in worlds and what’s incredible about this series is that it’s all shot in the places where these events actually unfolded. There’s something beautifully immersive about watching that.

Parish: People love a dynasty drama. They always have. Just look at Succession which was on recently, that’s a great example of a modern day Medici – a warring family.

3. You got to shoot in beautiful locations in Italy – what was that like?

Daniel Sharman at the launch of Medici in Italy Getty

Sharman: It was incredible. You hardly ever get a whole town shut down so that you can walk around it. The whole town feels like a giant set. You can ride around the place on a horse and it doesn’t really feel like acting. You’re just poncing about in an Italian city.

I don’t think there’s another country in the world that would have allowed us to use the heritage sites we shot in. Our crew is hundreds and hundreds of people and they’re knocking around in these ornate heritage sites.

“Even our green rooms were in the most ridiculous places. We’d be sat in the back of a massive Duomo cathedral. We’ll never experience anything like that again.”
- Sarah Parish

When we went to these towns, they were so proud of the story and so proud of the lineage, they wanted their town and this story to be told. There is nothing worse than filming a location where everyone wants you to get the f**k out of there. They were as willing for this story to be told as we are.

Parish: We were allowed in original Medici palaces. We had the massive party for season two in the Medici Palazzo and they were incredibly relaxed about that. It makes it so enjoyable as actors to be that involved in the history of the piece. It’s quite awe-inspiring.

Even our green rooms were in the most ridiculous places. We’d be sat in the back of a massive Duomo cathedral. We’ll never experience anything like that again.

4. Will fans be satisfied with the show's ending?

Sarah Parish in Medici Netflix

Parish: With these really big epic series it’s a very tricky thing to write because there’s so much to fit into a very small space of time. As a writer the challenge is to not be too expositional all the time. I think Frank [Spotnitz] the writer does that well, he doesn’t lose the emotion of the piece. I think we’ve achieved a great ending to a fascinating story.

5. What is the biggest challenge in making Medici?

Daniel Sharman in Medici Netflix

Sharman: For me, shooting out of sequence. This series is tracking about another 15 to 16 years, so we’d shoot way forward in a timeline when there’s an illness or degeneration of the body and then go backwards again. It was never scene after scene. So it was constantly tracking which scene goes where. I just wanted to make sure we were doing justice all the time to how a disease would impact on the body and speech.

Parish: The locations are so hard to get to, you have to shoot everything you film there in one go. We’d jump from episode 1 to episode 6. It's Renaissance Italy so we’re all going to die from some terrible disease, but tracking your illness is challenging. I think for all the actors that would have been the biggest challenge.

6. How are you coping with lockdown?

Actress Sarah Parish at the launch of Medici season 2 in Italy Getty

Parish: I’m alright! I’m OK. I live in the middle of nowhere anyway, so I’m used to being isolated. But the home schooling is quite challenging. I’m not a born teacher by any means.

Luckily the sun is out and I can go for a walk and not see anyone for hours. For me, it’s pretty good. For my friends in London it’s a lot more challenging. As it progresses and goes on and on, it gets more frightening and more depressing. But hopefully we’re coming out of the other side of it. Dan, how are you doing?

Sharman: I was saying to some friends, there was nowhere in the world that I would rather be quarantined than Sarah’s house!

Watching this thing rip through Italy was profoundly sad. You’re sat watching this happen in your house and I just feel profoundly lucky to have a house, one where I can sit in the garden in LA.

I do feel a bit of the madness of how fortunate I am to sit in the garden and write. It’s a very odd experience. I can only say it feels like a very seminal moment in human history.

As Sarah said, hopefully it is coming to the end, but I do think the effects of it will be very, very long-lasting.

Personally it hasn’t made too much difference, I’m still in LA messing about, but I’m acutely aware I’m very lucky to be in that situation.

Daniel Sharman at the launch of Medici in Italy Getty

Parish: It’s a really tricky time for the arts. We won’t be a priority for going back to work. We’ll be the last on the list. It is a problem. I don’t know how we’ll rectify it. I don’t know what the future looks like for the film business.

You’d hope there will be a glut of work to go back to with writers around the world scribbling new scripts. But I don’t know if it works like that. It’s a landscape that none of us recognise.

It’s the theatres that I really worry for. TV and films have a backlog of money to sit on, but theatres don’t. It will have a big impact on the arts, but how, I couldn’t tell you.

7. Could modern politicians learn from Lorenzo?

Sarah Parish in Medici Netflix

Sharman: What’s exciting about playing Lorenzo is that you’re coming out of an extremely dark period in European history and the Renaissance is a new way at looking everything.

Diplomacy, art, the world. And this family were at the crux of that. They were the forerunners of so many things. When you play a character like that, it’s fascinating to see the world in a dark place and a character who could have succumbed to the same rhetoric and ignorance of the middle ages and instead, decided to use diplomacy, art and understanding.

Whether you think we’re in a dark time or not, it’s interesting to see someone in human history has taken a moment and changed the narrative. Europe was pulled out of a time of superstition and darkness and suddenly created the world’s greatest artists and there was a period of real enlightenment. Whether that applies to today or not? I think it can be applicable at any time.

Medici: The Magnificent seasons 1-3 are streaming now on Netflix.

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