The Spanish actor, a star in Finland thanks to the success of “The Serranos” and his music, stars in “Kosta”, a series produced by Spain’s The Mediapro Studio, Finnish public network YLE and Nordic producer MRP. Available on Orange TV.
A crime in paradise, a Finnish detective wanting to get away from it all and a Malagenean cop with the face of Fran Perea. These are the ingredients for “Kosta (The Paradise)”, a thriller shot on location between Fuengirola and Finland, in English, Finnish and Spanish, which, after breaking records in Finland, has just premiered in Spain on Orange TV.
“I have a really unique relationship with this country,” said Fran Perea during the presentation of the series in Finland, where the Malaga-born actor is a star thanks to “The Serranos”. “Warner Finland called me to publish my albums and do promotion,” explained the actor, who was voted the most attractive man in the country back in 2008. “When I was here playing, what surprised me most was seeing Finns singing in Spanish, it was insane. Spanish became fashionable and people even started studying it, I mean we’re talking about seriously applied fans here”, he adds.
A decade later, The Mediapro Studio, Finnish public broadcaster YLE and Nordic producer MRP, thought of Fran to star in “Kosta”. “I was one of those viewers who watched “The Serranos”, which was a huge success here,” said Matti Laine, screenwriter for the series, “Border Town” (available on Netflix) and “Bullets” (on Movistar + and Sky). “It was fun, but it was serious at the same time. On top of that, acting performances here back then were colder and a stark contrast to “Los Serrano”, which was so fresh and full of life”, adds Laine, also crime novel author who, as he says himself “lost it” one day when he spotted a “Los Serranos” poster on the wall while walking through the corridors of Globomedia.
“I took a photo and sent it to my wife. I told her, ‘you’ll never guess where I am right now!’ And then it dawned on me that our character, Andrés Villanueva was the same age and remembered that Fran was a great actor in “The Serranos”, all the girls were in love with him. But I had no idea what he was doing, so I asked, ‘Is Fran still acting? Does he do television? What does he look like now? Has he let himself go?’ Because we need a special forces agent”, said Laine laughing, who ensured us that Perea completely nailed the casting.
Following the pattern of the Nordic Noir, “Kosta” revolves around a series of crimes that occur within the Finnish community in Fuengirola. The aforementioned Villanueva, a local police officer with strong ties to the Nordic residents, and Finnish inspector Hilkka Mäntymäki, played by Riitta Havukainen, take charge of the investigation. While investigating the case, they uncover a complicated criminal network. “The series deals with smuggling, urban speculation, crime cloaked and hidden by different interests and as such, practically impossible to control, but, above all, the series talks about people going through tough times in their lives and how they handle this the best way they can.”, said Perea.
Referring to this particular colony, where some 25,000 Nordic citizens live, series director Marja Pyykkö, said, “The Finns who move to Fuengirola I think are looking for a safe adventure. Because they live just like they do in Finland, with their own stores, their church, their bread, and they don’t know the language or, at most, two or three words. I don’t understand it that much, but they have sun, sea, and flamenco in the restaurants. So, communication between these two groups on the coast isn’t very fluent.”, explained Marja in perfect Spanish.
“It’s quite common to have someone you know or a relative with a home there. I’ve been there many times because my ex-in-laws have a house on the Costa del Sol.”, said the veteran actress Havukainen while stressing that the population of Finland is around 5.5 million people. A fact that also serves to measure the audience share success of “Kosta”. After the premiere on YLE last February, the eight episodes were watched by more than two million people and 40% of the audience connected with the series at some point.
Returning to the series, the relationship between the two detectives from vastly different cultures and with contrasting working methods is the common thread of “Kosta”, and also a reflection of the filming environment. “It was a real eye-opener to see the Spanish way of working, more relaxed. Finns do not express the joy of living as much as Spaniards do, and I love that,”, said the actress, who declared herself a fan of the Spanish character.
In this sense, Pyykkö ensures us that part of her job consisted of balancing this mixture between Finns and Spanish. “Finns speak slowly and use very few words. People from Malaga, quite the opposite. So, from the script, we try to maintain both ways of expressing themselves”, explained the director, who despite the good vibes – almost every day ended with a few beers together -, from time to time she had to raise her voice in order to get our compatriots to listen to her.
This contrast between the cold north and the warm south of Europe is also patent in the cinematography, where the dark, gray atmospheres of the Nordic country give way to the sun and the light of the Mediterranean. “Nordic noir is very well made, but it is very serious. Everything is distant and the audience is safer. Here, of course, the light is different, but also the pace and visual style and that adapts to the story. I always try to bring audiences closer to the characters, to feel them suffer and sweat.”, she concludes in reference to her style.