'Malverde' Brings Mexican Folk Hero to Life on Telemundo

Malverde: El Santo Patron on Telemundo
(Image credit: Telemundo)

Malverde: El Santo Patrón starts Tuesday, Sept. 28 on Telemundo. The Super Series is set in the early 1900s, and centers on Jesús Malverde, who Telemundo calls “one of the biggest and most controversial Mexican characters of the last 150 years, an outlaw who ultimately became a legendary figure, a religious icon, and protector of the innocent, poor and dispossessed.”

Pedro Fernández plays Malverde, Mark Tacher portrays Vicente del Río and Carolina Mirando plays Isabel Aguilar.

Tacher said his Vicente character is “the sole enemy of Malverde.” Malverde loves Vicente’s wife and, alas, Vicente’s wife loves Malverde. 

“He steals more than my money,” Tacher, also in the cast of La Reina del Sur 2, told B+C. “He steals the love of my life, my family, and my stability.”

Tacher describes Vicente as a victim. “He had everything he wanted in life, then this guy Jesús Malverde appears,” he said. “It breaks everything.”

Malverde is based on a real historical figure. The set depicting early 1900s Mexico is around 90 minutes from Mexico City. Tacher said the project has the feel of a western. “You will feel the sand in your face,” he said. 

At the time, a small number of people controlled vast amounts of wealth, and the poor started pushing back. “Just a few have a lot,” said Tacher. “Everybody is aching for more.”

Luis Zelkowicz created the show. Karen Barroeta, executive producer and executive VP, Telemundo Global Studios, said it is the first period piece Telemundo has produced. She said Malverde was a long time in the works. 

“The first time we started talking about the project was around six years ago, where we said to ourselves, OK, Malverde, we hear so much about him, and we've kind of mentioned him in another of our Super Series, in our other shows,” she said in a TCA session. “We started doing research, and we said to ourselves four years ago, Let's put together a reel, and let's take it to focus groups, and let's see how people react to seeing a story just about him. And when we did, we found fantastic results. We saw how our audience here in the United States, an Hispanic audience, was so excited about knowing more, and so we just started the development process three years ago.”

Is Malverde a good guy or bad guy? Tacher likens him to Robin Hood. “He’s a hero of the people,” said Tacher. “He steals from the rich and gives to the poor.”

He noted how women wield real power in the series. “It’s one of the things that made the story so fantastic,” Tacher said. “Women have so much power in it. They’re standing up for their rights.”

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.