Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s role, Brian De Palma’s influence: All about Prime Video’s ‘Citadel’

May 26, 2023 - 2:59 PM
Still from "Citadel" featuring Richard Madden as Mason Kane and Priyanka Jonas Chopra as Nadia Sinh. (Prime Video/Released)

Prime Video premiered the highly anticipated action-spy thriller “Citadel” last April 28.

It is available for streaming in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide and has since become a global smash.

In the Philippines, it is currently the top 5 show being streamed on Prime Video.

The landmark, high-stakes global franchise is executive produced by the Russo Brothers, Anthony and Joe, Mike Larocca, Angela Russo-Otstot, and Scott Nemes for AGBO, with David Weil serving as showrunner and executive producer.

On the other hand, Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg serve as executive producers for Midnight Radio. Newton Thomas Sigel and Patrick Moran also serve as executive producers.

“Citadel” stars Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas as well as Stanley Tucci and Lesley Manville.

Other cast members include Osy Ikhile, Ashleigh Cummings, Roland Møller and Davik Silje, Caoilinn Springall and more.

The six-episode series centers on the future of independent global spy agency Citadel, tasked to uphold the safety and security of all people. It fell eight years ago after it was destroyed by operatives of Manticore, a powerful syndicate manipulating the world from the shadows.

With Citadel’s fall, elite agents Mason Kane (Richard) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka) had their memories wiped as they narrowly escaped with their lives. They’ve remained hidden since, with new lives under new identities, unaware of their pasts. However, one night, Mason is tracked down by his former Citadel colleague, Bernard Orlick (Stanley), who desperately needs his help to prevent Manticore from establishing a new world order. Mason seeks out his former partner, Nadia and the two spies embark on a mission that takes them around the world in an effort to stop Manticore. They pursue the quest while contending with a relationship built on secrets, lies, and a dangerous-yet-undying love.

Brian de Palma’s influence

In a roundtable interview with the press, Russo brothers shared that the look of and feel of the show was influenced by American film director and screenwriter, Brian De Palma.

De Palma is known for his suspense, crime and psychological thriller works such as “Scarface,” “Carrie,” “Femme Fatale,” and “Mission Impossible,” among many others.

“I don’t know if we thought of a specific spy. But certainly, the work of Brian De Palma comes to mind…not specifically from his espionage films but so much from his ‘thrillers.’ I think that was probably the biggest influence on the look on the feel of the show,” Joe Russo told Interaksyon when asked for spy or film inspiration for “Citadel.”

Angela Russo-Otsot also stressed that while they are fans of the genre and have many references, they still produced the series with the thought of bringing something new to the audience.

“I think that what’s interesting to note here is that oftentimes, even though we are such fans of genre, and have many references that we can point to as great influences successes, oftentimes when we sit down to think about how to approach a genre, we specifically reflect on ‘what have we not seen before?’ And that felt like a really exciting, compelling opportunity here, to not only feature a duo, but a duo that has a complicated past and features a woman in a way that we have not seen in the spy space, to date,” Angela said during the roundtable interview.

“I think felt like the most exciting approach was to really consider all the spy films that we have seen before lean into some of them from a storytelling perspective that appeal to a broader audience and allow that audience an easier access point, but then to subvert their aspects that then frankly, felt long  overdue,” she added.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s acting prowess

As Angela highlighted that “Citadel” features a woman differently portrayed than previous spy shows or films, the Russo brothers also revealed that Priyanka, who plays the spy Nadia, perfectly fits the series’ narrative.

“Priyanka is very unique and she’s a true global star. And, you know she’s also unique for this particular show,” Joe said.

Joe praised the actress for her commitment to do the fight sequences and described Priyanka to do “great” when it comes to physical stunts.

“What you’re seeing in the camera was all her,” he added.

According to the filmmaker, Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, proposed the “Citadel” concept and then the Russo brothers talked to Priyanka who later agreed to do the role.

They said that they could not imagine another actress portraying Nadia.

“The show was specifically written for her… We’re executing it specifically for Priyanka,” Joe said.

Why travelogue element is important

“Citadel,” eyed as a global franchise, has subsequent series traversing the globe with interconnected stories and different timelines. It features a travelogue element.

“Each Citadel series is locally created, produced, and filmed in-region, and stars top talent, forming a distinct global franchise,” Prime Video said.

The current spin-offs are already underway in Italy and India. It stars Matilda De Angelis, Varun Dhawan, and Samantha Ruth Prabhu, respectively.

Because of this, Joe explained that the travelogue element is critical to “Citadel.”

“You want to feel like the espionage intrigue is on a  global scale. You know, the individuals, spies from different corners of the world are connected with each other,” he told Interaksyon.

Season 1 Finale

Meanwhile, Prime Video released the premiere season ending finale on Friday. The sixth episode is titled “Secrets In Night Need Early Rains.”

The epic conclusion will reveal the identity of the mole within Citadel as heroes Kyle, Nadia and Carter risk everything as they face nuclear threat.

Still from “Citadel” featuring Richard Madden as Mason Kane. (Prime Video/Released)

Before the season 1 finale, Prime Video also announced the winner of a multi-platform treasure hunt called “Citadel: Crack the Codes,” that took place between May 3 to 5, 2023.

Ernesto Ramon Amao, a Human Resources officer from Marikina City won P500,000 cash prize in a contest which drew over 30,000 contestants.