Tuesday 11 Mar 2014
Rufus Sewell (Middlemarch, The Pillars Of The Earth, The Eleventh Hour) stars as the fictional Italian detective Aurelio Zen in three new films for BBC One. Italian actress Caterina Murino stars as Zen's love interest, Tania Moretti, alongside an international cast including Ben Miles, Stanley Townsend, Catherine Spaak and Francesco Quinn.
Set in and around Rome, and based on the best-selling novels by the late Michael Dibdin, the series features many of the combined attractions of Italy and the Dibdin novels – thrilling investigations, fun, warmth and beautiful people. As a result, Zen provides a unique perspective to the usual detective shows.
Rufus Sewell agrees: "It looks beautiful. The stories are fantastic because they're based on really great novels by Michael Dibdin. I think, potentially, it should be like nothing people have seen before.
"There's nothing really like Zen. In fact, the closest thing to it hasn't been made for a very, very long time. There's a kind of bounce to it that reminds me of stuff from the Sixties.
"It's fun and I'm having more fun doing this than I've had doing anything for a very long time.
"The relief reading the books is that there's a lot of humour and personally I'm trying to bring as much of that out as possible, for my own entertainment and hopefully for the entertainment of anyone watching.
"He's plenty dishonest when he wants to be. He's sneaky, he can be underhand, he can pull strings, he can break rules but not in some cool way. He's just a bloke trying to get by. Beyond that, the great thing about Zen is that he just wants to get through the day and I like the possibility that the real motivation in a scene is that you want to get the crime solved because you're really thirsty."
For Caterina Murino the screenplays proved to be a very attractive draw. She says: "It's a perfect mixture of all the things that I would love to see in the cinema – corruption, love, elegance and humour. Everything mixed in perfect doses.
"I was very surprised about myself because I'm very slow reading scripts and when I started to read Vendetta, I read it in one night. Then Cabal was exactly the same thing, and Ratking more and more. I said I would love to play Tania Morretti.
"I have to say that I was, and I am, a huge fan of Rufus Sewell and from the first time I met him, he was so nice, so humble, and I felt there was some chemistry between him and me. I felt immediately why Tania has a relationship with him. It was so nice to feel it for the first time at the casting."
The stunning backdrop of Rome, basking in glorious sunshine, also plays a central role in the films. Andy Harris, executive producer for Left Bank Pictures, comments: "It is a great city to photograph and it looks beautiful. With anywhere that you get that kind of light, it's hard not to be dazzled by the images and excited by the results.
"Ultimately, what the great strength of the programme is, is Rufus Sewell. I think this is a character he was literally born to play.
"Two movie stars in a series of films lusciously and beautifully shot against the backdrop of Italy, with some very powerful and interesting stories, is what combines to make it an absolute winner, I hope."
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