“Senna,” Netflix’s biggest and most ambitious series ever in Latin America, now has a director. Seasoned Brazilian film-TV action thriller director Vicente Amorim — whose credits include “Good” with Viggo Mortensen and “Yakuza Princess,” with Japanese American singer Masumi and Jonathan Rhys Meyers — has boarded the production.
The eight-episode fiction miniseries will plumb “the intimacy of the man who became a national hero and conquered the world,” Netflix Brazil announced on Monday.
It looks set to be the biggest play ever by Netflix for one of its biggest markets anywhere in international. In January 2021, Netflix was reported to have already run up 19 million household accounts in Brazil, nearly as many as the streamer’s then 25.49 million for the whole of Asia.
“I’ve had many idols in the sport, but only one hero, Senna. I watched his races, I rooted for him, I was inspired by him and I was in tears the day he died,” said Amorim, summing up the feelings of maybe most Brazilians towards Senna’s figure.
“Senna” also looks set, however, to reverberate in international.
In 2009, a poll of 217 current and former Formula One drivers by Autosport magazine named Senna as “the greatest Formula One driver who ever lived.” Multiple other polls – by BBC Sport, F1 Racing magazine, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag – have reached the same verdict.
“Senna was an international hero and through Netflix a series about him will have global reach – it will be an international series, produced and directed by Brazilians, that will move the home crowd and tell Senna’s fantastic story to new audiences and old fans all over the world,” Amorim said.
The son of a diplomat, who grew up in London, Washington DC, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and the Netherlands and speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and French – which will not hurt shooting a series on such an international sport as Formula One – Amorim broke out two decades ago with a trio of dramas mixing international or big national stars and social point: 2003’s “The Middle of the World,” with Wagner Moura, which competed at San Sebastian; 2012’s singular “Dirty Hearts” with Tsuyoshi Ihara, a tale of fanaticism unspooling in the Japanese community in São Paulo at the end of WWII; and between them, 2008’s 1930s-Germany set ethical thriller “Good,” starring Viggo Mortensen, which made several critics’ Top 10 lists for the year, including at The Hollywood Reporter and The New York Observer.
Ever since 2017’s biker chase-slasher “Motorrad,” rated as one of his best and farest-out movies, Amorim has, however, become increasingly a go-to-director for action thrillers, whether Globoplay’s 2019 shoot-‘em-up “The Division,” bloodthirsty 2021 revenge tale “Yakuza Princess,” acquired by XYZ Films, or the still-to-bow “Santo,” a propulsive manhunt thriller marking Netflix’s first Spain-Brazil series which Amorim has just finished posting.
“Action and emotion defined who Senna was and what this series will be,” said Amorim. “We will put the audience in the driver’s seat, with Senna, in each of the cars he drove and try to reveal his genius while, at the same time, striving to understand the man, to open a window into his personal life, his challenges and his incredibly victorious career in a sport rigged against non-Europeans,” he added.