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Disney Execs Were Surprised Robert De Niro Loved ‘Nada’ Script

Disney Execs Were Surprised Robert De Niro Loved ‘Nada’ Script

Even Robert De Niro could not resist the great script for Disney mini-series Nada.

Leonardo Aranguibel, VP, head of production operations & strategy at Disney for Latin America, and Mariana Pérez, VP, head of development & production for the same patch, sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss what they called their “mission” for The Walt Disney Company in Latin America – but not before explaining how the veteran actor was brought aboard the Argentinian comedy drama.

Nada, which premiered on Disney’s streaming service Star+ in October last year, follows wealthy food critic Manuel Tamayo Prats (Luis Brandoni) who faces crisis after the death of his housekeeper. Set in Buenos Aires, the series is narrated by Manuel’s old friend, Vicent Parisi (De Niro), who eventually travels to the city to help his old friend.

“We sent the script to Mr. De Niro,” Aranguibel says at the international market and networking event Conecta Fiction & Entertainment in Toledo, Spain, on Wednesday. “You know, I was thinking [it was going to be] ‘probably no,’… The next day he goes, ‘Hey, I love this script.’ So he came to Buenos Aires for about one week, and we made this production. It was a beautiful series. Only five episodes.”

The producer duo explained that these kinds of shows are resonating with Hispanic audiences. Both agree that they are searching for “stories that reflect the DNA of the region,” and often that means opting for tales inspired by real life. But the region’s passionate relationship with telenovelas – the globally famous soap operas of the Latin American world – is giving romcoms the much-needed streaming boost that they deserve. Viewers in Mexico and Brazil, particularly, are falling deeper in love with Disney’s romantic comedies.

Aranguibel and Pérez are especially excited about L’amour De Ma Vie starring Brazilian superstar Bruna Marquezine, describing it as the next “big thing” for Disney’s Latin American output. “Romantic comedies in Brazil are doing super super, super, super good,” Pérez says. Aranguibel continues: “The Brazilian telenovelas are the most important [shows] in Brazil. They’re massive. Brazilians have been so connected to romantic stories. It’s bread and butter for them, like in Mexico too. Argentina is a little bit more sophisticated as a market… But romcoms, I think they work better in Mexico and Brazil.”

Pérez adds: “And L’amour De Ma Vie will be a huge success because of the talent.” It’s top talent that these executives believe is the key to success. It’s exactly why the upcoming Brazilian series Vidas Bandidas is one that Disney’s Latin American branch is so excited about – top stars Juliana Paes, Rodrigo Simas, and Thomas Aquino are attached. The pair can’t say too much about its plot, but THR can confirm the drama follows a heist-like story with Paes leading the cast.

“We have a very, very well known talent (Paes) from Brazil,” Pérez says. “We are doing so well in landing not only good talent but very well-known talent. Vidas Bandidas is about a good script and well-known talent.”

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Aranguibel says a trend is making itself known in this area. “The star power is a driver that we see in the region – not only the region, all over the world. Sometimes [show] creators, they say: ‘I just want a good actor. I don’t want a great name, just a good actor.’ But you have to have a mix of that and star power.”

The future is bright for Disney in Latin America. For both Aranguibel and Pérez, they want audiences to feel cared about. “The truth is, we want to be connected to our audiences,” Aranguibel says. “If you’re sat on the couch watching TV, we want you to feel that that streaming service cares about you, cares about your story, cares about your characters, cares about your history. We are a legacy studio. We have Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, 20th Century…. So our mission is to to to make our markets and our audiences connected to us, in their soul.”

Pérez says the formula of success for Disney is something that can’t be known. But the aim remains to tell “good stories” and these two want to find them. “You never know where the story is. We are always looking for people, young people, not only the best producers in Latin America, but people who want to tell a story.”

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