Medici season 3: “gets even darker” says co-creator

Season 2 arrives this week and filming is already complete on season 3 of Netflix’s Medici family saga. Here’s what we know…

Arriving this Friday on Netflix is the sequel to 2016 historical drama Medici: Masters Of Florence. Set twenty years after the first season, it continues the story of the Medici family in Renaissance Italy, focusing on the character of Lorenzo, dubbed “il Magnifico”, and his struggles against a family of rival bankers, led by Sean Bean’s antagonist Jacopo Pazzi.

Whatever happens to Sean Bean’s character, Lorenzo’s story doesn’t end after just eight episodes. A further eight have already been filmed and, if they follow the pattern of season two’s release, will be expected to first air in Italy this autumn, before arriving worldwide on Netflix in early 2020.

“This is a two-season journey,” Medici co-creator Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, The Man In The High Castle) told press at the January 2019 press launch for season two. “This season ends with the Pazzi Conspiracy, which is this massive, thrilling climax, and then the story continues for eight episodes in the next season, which we just completed filming last month in Italy.”

The cast and crew had a year gap between filming seasons two and three, in order to enable all eight scripts to be finalised. Each of the eight season three episodes have been directed by a single director, Coco Chanel‘s Christian Duguay. The series comes produced by Lux Vide, whose CEO Luca Bernabei is also an executive producer alongside Spotnitz.

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Filming locations

Filming took place across Italy, in Florence, “either right up against the Duomo or inside the back district, because those bits [of the city] have not changed. Then most of the exterior shooting you see are in other medieval towns that are unchanged,” in areas of Volterra, Pienza, Lazio and Montepulciano explains Spotnitz. “So often in the past, these shows go to central Europe. It’s much cheaper, but it’s not the same. It doesn’t feel the same, it’s not the same beauty.”

Hope in the darkness

While the first season of Lorenzo’s story “starts out light,” Spotnitz tells Den Of Geek, it becomes tragic and “gets more and more heart-breaking.” Medici season three becomes even darker and “stays dark for quite a while. Without spoilers, it changes Lorenzo, it marks the end of his youth really. He’s a different man in the next season and he’s facing different kinds of problems as an older man. In this season he’s trying to build something. Next season, he’s trying to keep something from being torn down.”

“But there’s hope at the end, without spoiling anything. There’s hope, as there always is.”

Ageing the Magnificent

The timescale of season three sees Daniel Sharman, the actor who plays the titular Lorenzo the Magnificent, age from his 20s to his mid-40s. Season two takes him from 19 to 26 years old, while season three takes him all the way to 43. Sharman, who is 32 in real life, underwent a complete physical transformation for the third season necessitating two hours a day in make-up.

“That required a lot of body work,” he told us. “The process of working on somebody who wasn’t just 43, but someone who had heavy gout and their lymphatic system was being destroyed.”

“It was one of those mad moments where you look in the mirror and you go, oh God, that’s my future! There’s something quite harrowing about that, especially the later season towards the end of his life when he was really unwell. You take that energy on in some way, I’m still kind of recovering a little bit from it.”

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By the end of the shoot, he jokes, “I felt about 63. It was helpful to the whole thing, I think I aged a great deal in the time we shot it and by the end I’m hobbling around, genuinely!

As well as the prosthetics and age make-up, CGI was used to recreate the look of 15th century Italy, though “you’d be surprised how many shots in the show are not CG” says Spotnitz.

As for the plot itself, “You don’t know how the story is going to turn out. You may think you know, that it’s a simple thing of good versus evil and cynicism versus idealism… It’s not that simple at all. To this day there are people who think Lorenzo was a great hero and people who think he was a villain. I hope we do a good job of exploring the grey areas.”

All eight episodes of Medici: The Magnificent arrive on Netflix on Friday the 25th of January. More news on Medici season three as it arrives.