Amazon’s Mozart In The Jungle cast on Japan, finding an audience and potential season 5
Amazon’s Mozart In The Jungle might be one of the most bizarre concoctions on the platform; a comedy-drama which blends classical music, zany humour with a light-hearted romantic touch.
Starring Golden Globe-winning Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal as flamboyant conductor Rodrigo De Souza, the show is inspired by oboist Blair Tindall’s 2005 drug and sex-fuelled memoir – and features a superb supporting cast including Lola Kirke, Bernadette Peters and English actor Malcolm McDowell.
As the show has progressed over three seasons, it’s become even more experimental; delving into Rodrigo’s hallucinations and even spinning into documentary territory in episode Not Yet Titled.
The fourth season is dialling up the extravagance by partly shifting the setting to Japan, which Gael Garcia Bernal and Malcolm McDowell found to be an overwhelming experience.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Bernal said: ‘It’s such an amazing place. The whole spectrum of what Japan represents to somebody that comes from this other side of the world is just overwhelming in the best sense.
‘It’s beautiful, full of detail and every day you’re discovering a new veil of what Japan is.’
The setting inspires some of the bizarre shenanigans in the season, which includes Debra Monk’s Betty Cragdale and Bernadette Peter’s Gloria Windsor trying a spot of karaoke.
‘I’ve never been to Japan and I was absolutely enthralled by it,’ Malcolm McDowell told Metro.co.uk. ‘I took my then 13-year-old son with me and we hung out as roommates – him playing his guitar and going to karaoke a lot.
‘In fact Bernadette and Debra do These Boots Were Made For Walking on karaoke, and it’s a great sequence. I don’t do any of the singing, but there’s plenty of other stuff for me to do.’
That other ‘stuff’ includes the turbulent relationship between his traditional conductor character Thomas and love interest Gloria – who reconciled in the season three finale. Will their romance however hit some more bumps in the road?
‘Well look at the two personalities involved. Who knows? As far as I know it could be the end or they could get married, anything is possible.
‘It’s a remarkable relationship for both of them. It has actually grounded Thomas a lot because he’s such a narcissist really – he’s been brown-nosed since he was a young man, he’s always been a prodigy called the maestro. How do you have a normal life after all that?
‘There’s a certain entitlement there. But I think Gloria is really knocking that out of him a bit and it’s nice to see the real human being underneath that bravado.’
The key shift in season four however is the now official relationship between Rodrigo and Lola Kirke’s Hailey Rutledge – which has been a constant ‘will they, won’t they?’ throughout the three seasons.
‘It’s changed,’ Bernal says. ‘We had a lot of scenes alone. They’re together now so there’s lots of talking. Lola is such an incredible actress and we’re good friends.
‘It’s just easy and it’s so much fun to work with her. It’s really fun to live that life as Rodrigo, and having Rodrigo in your pocket in the sense I can always use it. I miss playing him every year.’
A light, whimsical comedy based around classical music is always going to struggle in the golden age of visceral heavyweight drama – but the show has attracted a big following with classical musicians who have even made cameo appearances.
The likes of Joshua Bell, Lang Lang and Grammy-winning pianist Emanuel Ax have all made appearances in the show – but finding an audience for Mozart In The Jungle certainly is, or was, a major concern.
‘There’s so many damn things on TV it’s hard to find an audience,’ McDowell says. ‘It’s hard to find a voice.
‘I think we’re very lucky Amazon took us up because I don’t think it would ever be on a mainstream network this show. A show about an orchestra, for god’s sake. I can just imagine the pitch.’
McDowell, who’s perhaps most known for playing Alex DeLarge in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, added: ‘The truth is because there’s so much good stuff on television, honestly it’s been the death knell of the independent movie which is where I lived most of my life.
‘I’m not even a mainstream movie guy. I tend to like stuff that’s a little edgier so it’s weird I find myself in a good wholesome comedy. I’m very happy for the break.’
It’s a break which is going from strength to strength, so are they already pinning hopes on season five being a no-brainer?
‘We always want to do it,’ Malcolm adds. ‘We’re waiting to hear and see what happens. We’re expecting it but not 100 per cent.
‘We’ve always got options open.’
Mozart In The Jungle season 4 is available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video from February 16.