‘Santo’: two policemen in search of a faceless killer for one of the most ambitious Spanish series

Carlos Lopez screenwriter (Prince, Office shift: ten years later) has taken so many turns in the fiction industry that he is more than aware that “everything has already been invented”. But with his new project, as creator of the police series Holy, from Netflix, opens several unprecedented doors for a Spanish production. He made the leap from journalism to writing for film and television in the mid-nineties in a very peculiar way, taking charge of signing a gala for the Goya awards. Since then, he claims not to be afraid of any project. “I have always gotten into things that have been great for me, that I did not know how they were done. I learned as I went”, he says at the beginning of September in a telematic conversation.

From that fear of the unknown goes to a good extent Holy, which hits the platform this Friday. It’s a thriller of action and intrigue with a lot of psychological and reflective drama and some touches of the horror genre. Because the antagonist has no face. It is about a drug trafficker whom two opposing police officers, the Spaniard Millán (Raúl Arévalo) and the Brazilian Cardona (Bruno Glagiasso), try to hunt down from Madrid and Salvador de Bahía. The only real and tangible link with the criminal is her lover, Bárbara (Victória Guerra), a mysterious Portuguese woman who in recent years has immersed herself in the world of spirituality and violence of her partner. “She is in the middle of Cadona and Millán. She has returned from evil and does not have the same moral limits as the two of them ”, advances the person in charge of the series.

“Evil is always more disturbing when it is invisible. The first fear recognized by all is the fear of the dark, of not being able to face your enemies, of not knowing what is happening to you and not getting a diagnosis of what your ailments are,” says López. And these two policemen, after so much pursuing an unknown evil, end up looking for it within themselves.

To carry out a series “that is baroque in its conception, because it mixes several genres and cultures, but that seeks to be accessible to the viewer”, as López defines it, the showrunner He has spent many months working in Brazil. Soaking up the complex religious reality of the country has been key to completing this story. “While in Spain, in general, religion is lived in a very disbelieving way, in Brazil it is a fundamental part of society and it is not usually a private matter, but is often lived as something collective. There they asked me what religion Cardona’s character belongs to and it is something that impressed me, because it is a question that in Spain we have never considered when explaining a character unless that defined its plots, ”he comments.

The Portuguese Victória Guerra, from the front, in one of the sequences of the series ‘Santo’ shot in Salvador de Bahía (Brazil).Netflix

Holy It is a 100% Spanish production run by Netflix and Nostromo Pictures, but it is a Brazilian —Vicente Amorim, also in charge of the miniseries focused on the life of the pilot Ayrton Senna— who directs the chapters written by López. “The greatest complexity of the series has been that, even though it is Spanish, it seemed like a fiction from there to the Brazilian public. And that the plot of Salvador de Bahía did not have a European look, full of folklore and clichés, like when a Tom Cruise movie mixes Sanfermines and Holy Week”, comments its creator. The fiction has had a religious adviser specialized in filming, who has also advised the team in the preliminary writing process and in post-production. “In the part shot in Brazil, we were 150 people from the team and only five of them were Spanish, so it was very difficult for those scenes not to have a local flavor,” explains López.

As for the particular mix of genres, the other great challenge of this fiction, the work with the leading actors has been paramount. “I had already coincided with Raúl Arévalo in The Embassy and even then I had never met an actor in Spain who understood a script so well. Later he directed his own film [Tarde para la ira, de 2016] and I understood more things. He has a special intelligence and over the years he has gained a lot when it comes to managing and dosing his interpretive resources to tell many things with them. Vincent [Amorim] I was amazed at his acting ability during the first days of filming,” recalls López.

Raúl Arévalo stars in 'Santo', a police series that combines action, psychological drama and horror elements.
Raúl Arévalo stars in ‘Santo’, a police series that combines action, psychological drama and horror elements.Netflix

With Victória Guerra (seen in the Spanish-Portuguese co-production dry water), the person responsible for Holy He was looking for an actress who was a foreigner both in Brazil and in Spain, so that “she would give him that enigmatic thing that the foreigner has.” She did a live telematic audition “and it was so fascinating that halfway through the audition I was already thinking about how the character was going to work with her,” he admits. Bruno Gagliasso is a star in Brazil “of which he cannot go out on the street, so he really enjoyed filming in Madrid.” He gave himself to the role “in a tremendous way, with intense physical and emotional preparation that lasted months.”

And Greta Fernández, winner of the Golden Shell at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2019 for The daughter of a thief, completes the main quartet as a young policewoman who works alongside Raúl Arévalo’s Millán. ”She had never played a police officer with a gun in her hand, she is a physical character but at the same time with a great personal dilemma. She is someone who is just starting out in her profession and who tries, precisely, to know where the good is and where the bad is”. Like the rest of the protagonists, she will gradually discover that evil is invisible and is everywhere.

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‘Santo’: two policemen in search of a faceless killer for one of the most ambitious Spanish series