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Interview: Patrick Macmanus and Olivia Cheng say Marco Polo

“Where are you from?” “New Jersey, originally. I’m proud of New Jersey, like I’m core New Jersey fan. If my wife wouldn’t divorce me, I’d move back there, but she would divorce me”.

And with that, began our interview with Patrick Macmanus, producer of the epic Netflix TV Show Marco Polo and Olivia Cheng, star of the show as Mei Lei.

“You left us with a big cliffhanger”, we say to Macmanus, “I know!” he replies. “I’m betting that was purposeful. I’m going to go out on a limb and say, we wanted to leave you wanting more”.

We ask him how he thinks that fans will stream the show.

“One of the things that I adore about this model is that for a writer at least, it’s like writing a novel. It’s up to the audience really, how they wanna watch, how they’re going to watch it. I give it 72 hours. 72 hours is how long I think that it will take to get through it”.

He adds, “I watched Orange is the New Black in two days. when I was interviewing for this job with Netflix, but it was Orange that just…it’s such daring storytelling, and it presents women in a very real manner, Someone once asked me what paved the way for Marco Polo on Netflix, and I said I thought that it was Orange, allowing you to explore something you’ve never seen before”.

We then asked Olivia what she found to be the scariest part of the show.

“I think the scariest part was, I think anytime you recognize you have a great opportunity in front of you, I think sometimes you feel a certain fear, with the responsibility, you recognize comes with it. So I think for me, the greatest fear was realizing that I’ve been given this Alberta AAA Beef Steak three times the size of my head, figuratively speaking, (Macmanus starts salivating, and the metaphor has greater meaning because Cheng is originally from Alberta), I need to bite into this. I feel like this is such an important character to do well”.

She goes on, “I’m very proud of my work, I’m very proud of all of our work. We had some of the top from 27 nations around the world converge on this. We had so many Oscar nominees, and winners, talent spanning forty years all converging into Malaysia to film this together, so I’m incredibly proud of my contribution, and our collective contribution to making this (show)”.

We asked the importance of having Netflix and the Weinstein Company involved in the project, and Macmanus answered.

“Having that sort of creative support was absolutely instrumental. But beyond that, having The Weinstein Company in one corner, and Netflix in the other corner enabled us to get all of our other players. Having Tim Yip doing our costumes, who won the Oscar for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, having Lilly Kilvert build all of our sets and design all of our sets, having Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg direct, who did Kon-Tiki, an amazing film which was Oscar nominated, David Petrarca, Alik Sakharov…There was just so much juice, so much creative talent on this show. It all shows up on the screen”.

Catch the first ten episodes of Marco Polo streaming exclusively on Netflix Canada.