Cary Grant returns to the screen with a series about his life which is being filmed in Malaga. / SUR

Marbella turns into Hollywood for a UK series about legendary film star Cary Grant

Britain's ITV channel has commissioned Fresco Film to shoot this four-part mini-series about the actor's life which stars Jason Isaacs

FRANCISCO GRIÑÁN MALAGA.

His seductive smile had no rival in Hollywood. Attractive, elegant and charming, Cary Grant (1904-1986), with his suits as impeccable as his hair, captivated generations of viewers. The absolute king of sophisticated comedy was Hitchcock's favourite white-gloved thief: he even pursued him in a light aircraft in that scene which has been shown thousands of times in With Death At Our Heels (1959).

It is a splendid metaphor for the effect on the public of this brilliant British-born star who reinvented himself when he arrived in the USA on tour and the world of cinema crossed his path.

Until then his name had always been Archibald Alexander Leach, or Archie to his friends, and that is the title of the four-episode miniseries which is being filmed on the Costa del Sol this month for British channel ITV about the life of the legendary star of The Philadelphia Story (1940) and In Chains (1946).

The crew started in Malaga on Wednesday this week before moving to Marbella as a stand in for the Hollywood of the 1960s.

Jason Isaacs, who followers of the Harry Potter saga will remember for his role as the dark Lucius Malfoy, will play the irresistible Cary Grant at the peak of his career. The plot of the series journeys between his splendour as an actor and his origins as a vaudeville actor in the country of his birth from the age of 14, after a difficult and impoverished childhood with a father who didn't love him and told him that his mother had died. Young Archie eventually found out that she was in a psychiatric institution.

This production created by Jeff Pope delves into the less-known aspects of the actor's biography; his childhood marked him for life and he suffered from shyness and a lack of self-confidence which was in strong contrast to his roles on the big screen and resolute public image. His was a personality that led to continual marriage failures and his search for help introduced him to LSD, of which he was a firm advocate at a time when it had not yet been banned.

Film-star mansions

Although one of the scenes in the series is in Hollywood and its film star mansions, the British production has turned to Spain to film these exterior shots which are supposed to be in California.

"When a company is looking for locations similar to Los Angeles they have to come to Malaga, and Marbella especially, because the view with the sea and the mountains behind and palm trees is perfect," says Silvia Aráez, CEO of the Malaga production company Fresco Film, which is directing the filming of the mini-series.

The luxury villas on this stretch of the coast also have a role to play and it is not the first time this year that the producer has turned to the Marbella coast for a California-style setting in the Mediterranean, as it has done the same for the Netflix saga Black Mirror.

Also in the cast of Archie, which has been given approval from the actor's daughter, Jennifer Grant, are Laura Aikman (The One), who plays the star's fourth wife, Dyan Cannon, and Harriet Walter, who portrays his mother.

Dainton Anderson (who was in Malaga this year for the filming of another series, Stonehouse), Calam Lynch (The Bridgertons) and Oaklee Prendergast (The Impossible) will play Archie in his early years, from his birth in Bristol early in the 20th century, when he joined a music hall company at the age of 14, and when he went to the United States and became the famous film star Cary Grant.

Many productions

This production is the tenth for television and platforms to be filmed in Malaga this year. In fact, no fewer than four will be in the city or along the coast this November: the second season of Sentimos las Molestias (Movistar+), which is waiting for Antonio Resines, who was in intensive care with Covid-19 earlier this year, to recover after testing positive for the virus again; Los Farad (Amazon), by Mariano Barroso and starring Miguel Herrán; Sexy Beast', an adaptation of the film of the same name for Netflix and this biopic about Cary Grant, Archie, which confirms the popularity of streaming services because it will be premiered on ITVX, the British channel's new on-demand video service.

Cristina Armario, Silvia Aráez and María Cabello of Fresco Film. / F- SILVA

Fresco Film, the Malaga production company used by many major studios

Metro Goldwyn Mayer's slogan used to boast that it had "more stars than there are in the sky" and that could also be said of Malaga-based production company Fresco Film, which has gone from strength to strength since filming Game of Thrones for HBO back in 2015.

Earlier this year it began the prequel to the epic series of the seven kingdoms The House of the Dragon, and also filmed the most expensive production made in Spain this year, Kaos, starring Jeff Goldblum, which was shot over a two-month period in a Malaga - which had been converted into Greece.

Fresco Film, which is run by the management board of Silvia Aráez, María Cabello and Cristina Armario, is the go-to company in Spain for numerous international producers such as NBC, ZDF, ITV, Netflix, Gaumont and HBO, among others.

In recent months it has filmed the British series The Diplomat and the German series A Crime in Barcelona, in Catalonia, and transformed Alicante into Afghanistan for Guy Ritchie's new war film The Interpreter, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

This year Fresco Film has also been on location closer to home, because apart from the Netflix blockbuster Kaos, it has filmed a complete episode of the new series of Black Mirror on the Costa del Sol and elsewhere in Malaga province, and part of the third season of the Scandinavian series Exit.

In addition, the company has begun filming Archie. the series about the life of legendary actor Cary Grant - one of the brightest stars in the Metro Goldwyn Mayer sky. And Fresco Film, in its own way, is shining just as brightly.