Netflix’s ‘Marco Polo:’ What to Know About Star Lorenzo Richelmy

Netflix’s ambitious new series Marco Polo, starring newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy, is less than a month away from its debut and viewers are finally getting their first good look at the show. Though a brief teaser for the series was released earlier this month, the company has recently amped up excitement for the highly anticipated show with a new, full-length trailer.

Created and produced by Homeland’s John Fusco, the upcoming show will chronicle the obstacles that the legendary explorer faces in his early years as he navigates the 13th century inner court of Kublai Khan. The action-adventure series will follow Marco Polo “from the back alleys of Venice to the perilous Silk Road, from the opulence of the Imperial City to the battlefields of China, where cultures clash, blood is spilled, and lies are told.” Richelmy stars in the titular role alongside an international ensemble cast including Benedict Wong (Prometheus) and Joan Chen (Twin Peaks). Chin Han, Zhu Zhu, Remy Hii, Olivia Cheng, Claudia Kim, Uli Latukefu, and Tom Wu also co-star.

As seen in the new trailer, the 10-episode drama is jam-packed with action, lush scenery and racy sex scenes. The clip also gives viewers a better look at Richelmy’s depiction of the famed explorer. “All my life, I’ve waited for the great adventurer to offer me a place at his side,” the character says in the opening scenario.

In addition to being one of Netflix’s grandest projects ever, Marco Polo also marks Richelmy’s biggest role yet. So what else do we know about the up-and-coming actor? Ahead of the show’s premiere next month, here are five things to know about Netflix’s new star:

1. He comes from a theater family and got his start on the stage.

The 24-year-old bilingual actor originally hails from Liguria, Italy, but moved to Rome with his parents — who are theater actors — when he was 4 years old. He’s been acting since the young age of 8, making his debut in an Italian stage play. Later, he also starred in the theatrical production of Zio Mario at Rome’s Teatro Politecnico, directed by Mario Prosperi.

2. He has a long history in Italian film and television.

Richelmy’s career moved into film in 2002, with the movie Il Pranzo della Domenica, and then to TV, as the lead in 2007 miniseries I liceali, directed by Lucio Pellegrini. He also starred in the 2010 film Fat Cat and 2012’s Il Terzo Tempo (The Third Half), the latter of which debuted at last year’s Venice Film Festival. In 2014, the Italian actor also appeared in in Carlo Verdone’s successful comedy Sotto una buona stella (Under a Lucky Star) along with Paola Cortellesi, Carlo Verdone and Tea Falco.

3. He’s already received critical praise at international film festivals.

Richelmy attended CSC, the top drama school in Italy, as the youngest student ever admitted. In 2008, he was awarded Best Upcoming Personality by the Italian Tourist Department. His work on the movie Fat Cat earned him nominations for Best Actor at the International Film Festival in Bruxelles, as well as in three other festivals in California. The actor also previously received an award dedicated to young talent at the Maremetraggio Film Festival.

4. Marco Polo marks Richelmy’s first major English-language role.

Though he’s long since been a fixture in Italian television and films, the actor’s role in the upcoming Netflix series will be the first to make him known stateside. Thanks to the new gig, the actor also recently nabbed a contract at a major American agency. Per Deadline, UTA beat out other competitive offers to sign the actor back in April.

5. His titular role makes him part of one of Netflix’s biggest projects to date.

The streaming service has made it clear it’s going big with the upcoming limited series. The show has become one of Netflix’s most expensive original series to date with a $90 million production price tag. In addition to boasting an international ensemble cast, the series also involves a massive crew. Per Entertainment Tonight, a 400-member construction crew was needed to build the show’s 51 elaborate sets in three different countries (Italy, Kazakhstan and Malaysia). That feature film-level budget means fans should also expect lavish period costumes and stunning cinematic quality.

Marco Polo hits Netflix on December 12.

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