Russian-born, English-raised businessman Alex Godman (James Norton) has built a commendable life in London, but it’s only a matter of time before his complicated past (his wealthy parents are Russian exiles involved with the mafia) catches up with him. Over eight episodes, AMC’s newest big-budget international drama McMafia whisks audiences around the globe in Godman’s lightning-paced journey to quell his family’s enemies while attempting to keep himself out of the family business.
While many locations, including Godman’s hometown of London, were shot on location, other stand-ins might surprise you. See if you can spot these key scenes.
In Episode 1, a glamorous charity gala—where audiences first meet the Godman family, including Alex’s parents, sister, and uncle—takes place inside the Raphael Gallery of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. This is the home of the Raphael Cartoons, full-scale paintings by Italian Renaissance artist Raphael Sanzio that acted as “drafts” for tapestries intended to cover the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. The scene continues in the museum’s courtyard garden, where Alex and his girlfriend Rebecca Harper have a key conversation with Uncle Boris.
Further into the episode, events held by Harper’s wealthy boss are set against equally dramatic backdrops. Harper attends one of his lectures in the Sky Garden, a sweeping 43rd-floor open space atop 20 Fenchurch Street whose viewing gallery wall frames London’s skyline. Later on, the couple attends an event beneath the impressive glass-and-steel roof of the British Museum’s Great Court. See if you can spot the Egyptian Room and the Rosetta Stone as Godman makes his way through the space.
Godman’s Russian ties make Moscow an easy base for pivotal plot points, but in actuality, much of would-be Moscow scenes were shot in Belgrade, Serbia. One that was on-location with certainty? Gangster Vadim Kalyagin and his lieutenant walk and talk over what is clearly the Patriarshy Bridge, which spans the Moskva River and is bookended by two of Moscow’s most iconic landmarks—the gold-domed Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and the Kremlin. To fit with Vadim’s powerful criminal status, film scouts placed his home inside the Kudrinskaya Square Building, one of Moscow’s Stalinist-style Seven Sisters skyscrapers.
While zero scenes in McMafia take place in Croatia, the scenic Adriatic island nation stood in for a number of other equally exotic destinations. See if you can spot them all: in Episode 3, for example, a private villa in Southern France is actually Villa Magnolia, an early 20th-century aristocratic home near Opatija, Istria, that’s now a luxury hotel. Israeli politician Semiyon’s own villa in Tel Aviv was shot at Golden Rays, a luxury resort with its own swimming pool in coastal Primošten. In Episode 2, you see a sub-plot forming in Cairo and the Egyptian desert—but these scenes were skillfully shot on Pag, a barren, lunar-like island off Croatia’s coast.
Various scenes from Episode 4 and 5 were shot right in Mumbai, including slums in the city’s central southern region (which included coordinating thousands of extras) and at Worli Fort, a 1675 hilltop fortress built as a strategic military watch overlooking Mahim Bay where a local crime lord gets what’s coming to him.
In another body-double move, Znjan Beach in Split stood in for the main beach in Tel Aviv in Episode 1, where Godman and Uncle Boris chat over a swim—but those aerial shots you see of the city are the real thing. You’ll be able to pick out port city Jaffa, the oldest section of Tel Aviv, and the city’s resort-clogged coastline.
Another atmospheric scene—a boat sequence speeding over Doha Bay, the hazy skyline of Qatar’s capital city shimmering in the distance—gives audiences another taste of McMafia’s global scope.
AMC's McMafia airs stateside on February 26 at 10/9c.