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Why The Professor from Money Heist looks so familiar

The team of crafty criminals that star in Netflix's popular Spanish-language crime series Money Heist would be non-existent without "The Professor." Sergio Marquina is not just the team's leader, but the mastermind behind several of their grand heists across the streaming series, including the recently concluded part 4. A grueling perfectionist, his intelligence, meticulousness, and ambition not only brought his criminal dream team together, but inform the strict rules that guide each one of their impressive crimes. That includes the very first (seemingly impossible) job: stealing 2.4 billion euros from the Royal Mint of Spain.

The Professor combines his expertise in human psychology with knowledge in several areas, from policing and crisis aversion to forgery and weaponry, to chart airtight plans and gain the upper hand against various foes. His leadership ability is only matched by his ability to strategize and orchestrate a heist. Always willing to get a little dirty with his team, the Professor has taken on false identities and delivered split-second decisions to ensure his best-laid plans hold up, even when things go in unexpected directions.

His calm demeanor, compassion, and stringent morals help sow deep camaraderie among the group, and are as good for solving the team's internal conflicts as dealing with heist hiccups. The Professor is played by 45-year-old Spanish actor Álvaro Morte, and while his career began long before Money Heist, the Netflix series catapulted him to global recognition. Here's why the Professor from Money Heist so familiar.

Álvaro Morte has a long history on Spanish TV

Morte's small-screen resume has spanned everything from procedural dramas to Spanish telenovelas. But he began the TV arm of his career in the early 2000s, with a small two-episode part on Hospital Central, the Spanish television equivalent of the American medical drama ER. That very same year, he appeared for another multi-episode stint on the sixth season of Spanish police procedural Policías, en el corazón de la calle.

It would be another five years before Morte snagged his first major role in a television project. He was cast on the crime drama Planta 25 as Ray, a bodyguard and driver to the corrupt Don Pablo, the patriarch of the Valdemares family. The series followed the dealings and power struggles of the family, executives in a massive construction business. Its run was short, and Morte went back to smaller recurring roles on TV and mini-series before landing a couple of high profile leading roles.

First, in 2014, he took on the role of Gabriel Areta on the soap opera Love in Difficult Times, set during and after the Spanish Civil War in the days of Francisco Franco's dictatorship. Morte's character was eventually imprisoned for murder — but that merely freed up his schedule to star on the second longest-running Spanish TV series, El secreto de Puente Viejo. For three years, Morte played Lucas Moliner, a doctor who, at one point, fell in love with a married woman; his departure from El Secreto would lead directly into his role as the Professor on Money Heist.

Since then, Morte has also appeared on two seasons of the Spanish mystery drama The Pier, playing the deceased husband of a woman who discovered that he was leading a double life with another woman.

Álvaro Morte's first major film role was also in a Netflix original

Morte has spent most of his nearly two-decade long acting career working in just about every small screen genre you can think of. But he's also had a small movie career that helped him earn a few of those lead TV roles.

Like his small-screen trajectory, Morte started in minor roles in feature films, with the majority of his earlier parts being in short films like romance fantasy Los Niños del Jardín (Children of the Garden) and the 2003 horror short La guarida del ermitaño. It wouldn't be until 2007, the same year he earned his first major TV role, that he landed his first minor feature film part. Morte starred in Lola, la película, a biopic about Lola Flores, a famous Spanish flamenco singer, dancer, and actress. His first leading feature role wouldn't come until after the first season of Money Heist, however; in 2018, Morte joined the cast of the Netflix Spanish-language film Mirage.

The mystery drama sports a uniquely trippy premise, centering on Vera and David, a couple who move into the house of a young boy named Nico who was hit by a car decades earlier. After discovering and playing videotapes made by the boy, Vera realizes she can communicate with him in the past, eventually warning him about his future. But when she wakes the next day, she finds that Nico's survival completely re-wrote her reality. Morte stars as one half of the movie's leading couple, David Ortiz, a bank employee who may or may not be having an affair.

Álvaro Morte will next appear in a couple of intriguing streaming series

Morte has kept busy with Money Heist, but he'll soon be branching out with a pair of upcoming streaming series. He'll be among the cast of The Head, a serial which is being helmed by brothers David and Àlex Pastor. The siblings' various writing and directing credits include the 2009 post-apocalyptic drama Carriers, the Matt Damon and Ben Affleck-backed Syfy series Incorporated, and the 2015 Ryan Reynolds starrer Self/Less

The Head will mark Morte's English-language debut, and the project seems to be in line with many of the actor's other mystery and thriller roles; it centers on a group of scientists marooned inside a South Pole science lab who discover that one of them is a killer (via Variety). The Head currently doesn't have a release date, but it's expected to debut sometime in 2020; as it's a joint production of Hulu Japan and HBO Asia, it's not yet clear which platform it will land on stateside.

Morte will also appear in Amazon's The Wheel of Timebased on Robert Jordan's best-selling book series. The epic fantasy saga is set in a world where magic can only be wielded by women allowed to access it. The story follows Moiraine, a member of the all-female organization Aes Sedai, who must journey around the world with five young people — one of whom is the Dragon Reborn, the one prophesied to either save or destroy humanity. Production is underway with the Morte starring as Logain Ablar, a dark and handsome member of the all-male counterpart to the Aes Sedai (via Deadline).

With those two high-profile projects lined-up, and an expected but yet-to-be-announced fifth season of Money Heist on the table, the Morte's next year is looking bright — and busy.