When it comes to UK-produced organized crime thrillers, AMC has is following form after its major hit The Night Manager. Once again, they’re exploring the topic with new eight-part show McMafia, which deals with corporate-level organized crime and the Russian mafia.
Inspired by the bestselling book of the same name by Mischa Glenny, the series stars James Norton as Alex Godman, the English-raised son of Russian mafia exiles who finds himself drawn back into that underworld. In the UK, the show has already launched to critical acclaim.
“How it goes down in the US, we’ll see,” Norton said via satellite at TCA on Saturday. “I think there’s an immense appetite globally for this drama right now. Everyone in America and Europe and the UK, they want to see what this state-level corruption looks like.”
The show will be a departure from well-known Italian mafia stories, like The Godfather, The Sopranos, and Goodfellas, according to co-creator Hossein Amini. “Gangsters aren’t gangsters 100% of the time,” he said, adding, “the thesis to this was actually that they’re not that different from us. They’re trying to make money in a very different way, but they’re all around us, and they’re sitting next to us, and they can be lawyers, bankers, politicians, and intelligence agents. Criminality is a very, very human trait, unfortunately.”
For director James Watkins, the show was a marathon task, given that he shot it all himself and in one block. “It was a 150-day shoot, so we shot it like a film,” he said. “It was very economical, but also I think as creatives the fact that we were all there throughout the process in terms of having the journey, in terms of knowing the characters, was very helpful.”
“It was extraordinary for us,” Juliet Rylance, who plays Alex’s fiancee, said. “We would be jumping in one day from episode 8 to 4, to 1, to 3, and having one director helm that, and hold that enormous arc of a story for us was really incredible, but also it really helped us really delve in.”