“Did you know that this flower shop was a cemetery?’, Bruno Gagliasso asks me. I’m walking around Madrid with one of the best Brazilian actors of his generation and, even knowing the city (and Bruno), I was taken by surprise: I thought I knew the Spanish capital more than him.
I should have suspected. For eight months in 2021, the actor lived in Madrid to record a new Netflix series, “Santo”, which premieres on Friday (16) internationally. And now I was here, invited to walk with him around the filming locations.
It wasn’t the first time I thought of that city as a setting. I met her in the early 1980s, walking around Gran Vía at dawn with a magazine called “Madrid Me Mata” (I swear!) under my arm, wandering through places I would one day see in those early Almodóvar films.
In the 1990s, interviewing Rossy de Palma, one of the muses of the great Spanish director, she told me that it was right there where I walked that she performed in ephemeral cabarets, at the beginning of her career, with her band brilliantly called Peor Impossible. . I almost cried when I remembered seeing one of those shows.
The Madrid I was now traveling with Bruno was another. No less bohemian, but more modern and urban, sometimes even darker. Three adjectives that inevitably also go with “Saint”.
In it, Gagliasso lives a Brazilian federal police officer who, without much spoiler, ends up on the streets of Madrid looking for a bandit he started chasing in Salvador. Santo is not a common criminal, and little by little we come to understand Ernesto Cardona’s obsession with him.
The story is a jigsaw puzzle, which we are putting together and realizing how a cruel (and sadistic) bandit became a kind of cult, even creating its own mythology. And what a pleasure it was to feel in Madrid itself the energy of the addresses that are part of history.
We started with the apartment where he stayed during the filming, a charming building on Rua de los Madrazos, next to the actors’ entrance to the imposing Zarzuela Theater. Bruno was at home.
From there, we went to the neighborhood of Las Letras, where Cardona lived, a 15-minute journey during which Bruno delighted in greeting people from the places he frequented. In eight months he can be known in the neighborhood…
In Las Letras is the flower shop/cemetery where he bought white roses for a purification ritual for his character. Even on Spanish soil, Cardona seems to have never left Bahia…
We stopped to eat at the stupendous Mercado de San Miguel, where Bruno “punched” between one shoot and another. We had some tapas there—yes, in the feminine, as the Spaniards call aperitifs.
I went for the olive skewer (long live Spain!) and he stared at some empanadas. All washed down with a good “verano red”. I suggest doing a google to find the perfect recipe for the best drink for the summer.
We then passed the Universidad Complutense Faculty of Medicine, the scene of a moment in which Cardona, during a hallucination, almost jumped out of the window. And the beautiful Príncipe Pio train station, which I didn’t know, where one of the many action scenes in “Santo” was filmed.
At the end of the day, I gave in: Bruno knew Madrid better than I did. But I didn’t give up.
Despite my tiredness, I asked him if he would like to have a drink, and suggested a new temple of natural wines in the city, the Gota. “Do you know?”, I asked as a provocation. “No,” said Bruno excitedly. That’s where our second round started.
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