Spanish star Álvaro Morte, also  known as The Professor in the hit Netflix series Money Heist, has a special message for fans from this side of the world.

“I’d like to send all my best wishes to all of the Philippines, and all my love, and the strength for this quarantine and the times we’re in,” began the 45-year-old actor before proceeding to answer questions from the Philippine press in a recent video-conference call.

Morte was joined by fellow castmates to talk about Part 4 of the crime saga created by Álex Pina just a few days before its world-premiere on the streaming service on April 3. The series has become a global phenomenon that is entertaining as it is thought-provoking as it poses a moral dilemma to the viewers as to which side they should be rooting for.

Money Heist follows a group of robbers scheming and carrying out assaults on the Royal Mint of Spain and the Bank of Spain. The fourth season opens with the mastermind, The Professor, seemingly losing his mind with the thought that police investigator-turned-lover and accomplice Raquel Murillo/Lisbon (played by Itziar Ituño) was already executed.

“We thought it necessary that (the story) goes down to hell, actually. We intended to bring out chaos, generally speaking and particularly for each character. And the evolution (of my character) was to take away all his tools or main power which is his ability to think and to plan — and to see if he’s able to ‘resurrect from the ashes’,” he said of his storyline.

Asked where he draws inspiration in essaying The Professor, Morte identified two different sources.

“The first one, to play someone very smart and very intelligent — very much so in terms of planning, someone who likes to follow a method but not so intelligent, emotionally speaking. So, we thought it was interesting to put this very brilliant person, very much connected with something that is closed towards the others, someone who would go by unseen,” he said.

“And that leads us to the second part, which is the classic superheroes. We’re talking about people with high skills and capabilities that have to hide them at the same time. So, we thought it is interesting that he has different faces such as superman. Or that he had a past that we have to unravel little by little. A complicated past such as that of Wolverine, for example, that he can’t control everything from the hangar, or such as Batman and his cave. (Those are) the sources of inspiration intertwined between them,” he added.

In the new season, The Professor also faces a new investigator, another formidable female foe (and a pregnant one at that) in Alicia Sierra who doesn’t go by the rules and who stops at nothing to bring him down.

“I think she leads the professor to the limit. Beyond the fact that she’s very clever, of course, that’s a given, I think she contributes something that puts him off. She’s unpredictable,” Morte said of the Sierra character.

“When he drew up the first plan, his rival was going to be Inspector Murillo, and he could expect the answers she was going to give. She had this whole range of answers that (he knew) she was to give him when they assaulted the Royal Mint. But he didn’t have the time to study Sierra, and you never know what she’s going to do next. And that’s why she contributes much more uncertainty and that’s true, she puts him away much more.”

Still, in the midst of a worthy adversary and continuing tough challenges, Morte believes no other character can lead the gang and the heist besides The Professor.

“I think the person in charge of this and more obsessed in all of this is The Professor… Maybe this is a bit humbling, but I think the mastermind of all this is The Professor,” he said.

“But it’s a different (question) if I weren’t there and who would I leave in charge of it. And in that case, it would undoubtedly be a woman because I think, in general terms, they are more reasonable, wiser and more emphatic. I would never leave (the impulsive) Denver (Jaime Lorente) in charge, that’s for sure (laughs)!”

Last question during the virtual roundtable interview made Morte pick a “city name” for The Professor just like the rest of the Money Heist gang.

He said, “I had some trouble finding it, I gave it some thought. But there’s a city, because of the concept of what it is, that I think it’s my character but then I have to take all the religious components. This would be Vatican City because it’s a state city. Very small one but like The Professor with his shield all the time but at the same time, it has great power throughout the world. The Vatican City would be a good city, taking away all the religious elements which, of course, is difficult, I know.”

(All four seasons of Money Heist are streaming on Netflix.)