The Version Interview: Stuart Martin on the epic new Netflix series, Medici: Masters of Florence
Medici: Masters of Florence is the latest epic drama from Netflix Originals. After his father's murder, banking heir Cosimo Medici battles opponents of his artistic, economic and political visions for 15th-century Florence.
Stuart Martin, who plays Lorenzo, tells us more...
Medici: Masters of Florence has enjoyed huge success in Italy hasn’t it?
Yes it’s had an amazing reaction in Italy, the show is a record breaker for them. It’s all about one of their most famous and influential families and I think there’s such a huge interest in it. The show had something like eight million views in its first week, it is massive over there. It has literally just launched here in the UK so I am looking forward to the reaction here.
Are you expecting it to do as well here?
I don’t know about doing as well because obviously it is different in Italy because the people there know the story already but the show has a really young ca st and it is a mix of period drama and action and I think audiences here will enjoy it just as much even if they don’t know the story already.
Netflix is the place to be right now isn’t it, their dramas are huge?
Yes Netflix originals are huge and to be in the same category as other originals such as The Crown is just amazing. Netflix are off the scale, these shows are bringing the cinematic experience to television, Netflix are really changing the mould. I watched The Crown the other day for the first time and it is just beautiful, it is absolutely stunning.
Do you think Netflix are going to change the way other broadcasters like the BBC and itv run their dramas?
Yes, I think they’ll have to change. I was reading the other day about a big new show on the BBC which is Troy, a major new drama. And the way the BBC are pushing it, it is not something we have seen before. They have clearly given it a huge budget and as they try and compete with HBO series like Game of Thrones, that’s the way it has to be. It is definitely interesting to watch how they are promoting drama on the BBC now, it is already changing.
I read that the BBC are putting Tom Hardy’s new drama in a primetime Saturday night slot, what do you think to that?
Wow, really? They’re doing that? Well there you go then, that would never have happened before, they are trying new things because they have to.
Series like Medici: Masters of Florence just look stunning, did you have high expectations when you were filming?
Well, yes but you do so much with CGI that you do think ‘please be good, please be good’ because you don’t actually know what the final thing is going to look like. But HBO are absolutely nailing it, like I say these dramas on Netflix are actually amazing pieces of film, made for TV. We had three months on location, we were like a band of travelling actors so we’d film in one town for a while then move on to the next and it was so lovely. We felt like one of the locals, the locations you see are all real, it is visually beautiful.
Are you doing more?
It has already been commissioned for a second series, but… they’re going to jump to the next generation of the family which means Lorenzo the Magnificent and it also means a whole new cast and a whole new story which is very brave of them to do but I think the show could run and run.
You’re also in a major new Sky 1 drama called Jamestown. What can you tell us about that?
It’s by the same people who did Downton and I think it is going to air in the Spring, which again, is a change because broadcasters have always previously saved their major dramas for autumn. Viewing figures are going to go out of the window, it is all about streams and downloads and the number of countries you can sell a show to. I think if you are Channel 4 you have to stop worrying about how many people tune in on a set night to watch an episode of something and you have to look at the bigger picture.
But anyway yes Jamestown is the story of the real birth of America. It starts with eight beautiful women arriving on the island to be the wives for the eight men who arrived previously and it is going to fascinating to watch. Again, it will be beautiful, we filmed in a specially made town in Budapesh, no fake sets, every building is real and it was incredible to film. I think it is fun as an actor to learn about these new places and these historical stories and I think it will definitely translate to the viewers as well.
So if no more Medici, what is next for you?
Well I think Jamestown will be back again but I am concentrating on being a daddy for a while as we’ve just had a baby boy. I have another drama perhaps for February, which I think will be another period drama and then we’ll see….
Medici: Masters of Florence is available via Netflix, now.