TCA: Da Vinci’s Demons Debuts

500Leonardo da Vinci (Tom Riley)

Creator David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Man of Steel) and the stars of Starz’ new adventure/intrigue series Da Vinci’s Demons, about Leonardo Da Vinci’s manic mind, appeared at the TCA Press Tour to talk about history vs. myth and how this legendary inventor was like Batman.


Billed as being the “secret history of Leonardo da Vinci,” this new Starz series features Tom Riley as Da Vinci as he maneuvers through the sex, lies, murder and mystical knowledge of mid-15th century Florence, Italy. “This is something new for me,” Goyer admitted right off the bat. “I’ve never done anything historical or period before. But kidding aside, in this case with Da Vinci yes, there was a lot of research. But it really wasn’t that difficult because he’s kind of super hero-y anyway. There’s so many legends that have grown up around da Vinci, and there’s so many tall tales about him. People have said that aside from Christ, he’s the most recognized historical figure in the world. So in that regard, my approach to it was not dissimilar to adapting Batman or Superman. But obviously we did a lot more historical research.”

Batman, huh? Goyer went on to explain: “One of the things that was interesting when I was studying Da Vinci is that there are some parallels to Batman,” he remarked. “He had big father issues; you know, missing parent. Obviously, both obsessed with flight. Both had these sort of formative horrific incidents where they were trapped in caves. Or in Batman’s case a well. There was one that da Vinci wrote about in his own journals when he was 13 where something happened in the cave. We don’t know exactly what happened. He sketched it and he said that, sort of, something horrific happened to him in a cave. And that’s something that we explore in this show.”

Clarice Orsini (Lara Pulver)

Lara Pulver as Clarice Orsini.

“I also thought it was interesting that Bob Kane, the creator of Batman, originally based Batman’s cape on Da Vinci’s glider,” Goyer smiled. “So there sort of two figures that have always been kind of inextricably linked.”

Tom Riley then gave a little bit of insight into his take on playing Da Vinci. “He was a man who obviously wasn’t necessarily going to be constrained by the society that he was in,” he said. “And we’ve certainly reflected speculation about him in a way that will hopefully please an audience as far as combining all the
different elements of a personality like that. Being someone whose mind was so expansive and consequently quite factious, and bordered on being a savant and bordered on being — had to be charming at the same time in order to bring people into his ideas, because he was known as being quite…”

“He had a big mouth,” Goyer cut in, laughing. “He had a big mouth,” Riley conceded. “He could talk people into things. Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, which is the biography written closest to his life, it goes on and on about how he was all these things. So actually because he did so much in his life, and he was a polymath, it felt right that he should be played in so many different ways as to reflect that.”

Lara Pulver, who you all know as Irene Adler from the Sherlock episode “A Scandal in Belgravia,” plays Clarice Orsini, “arranged” wife to Florence’s ruler Lorenzo Medici. Pulver opened up a little bit about the preparation involved in playing a prim and proper Italian noble woman of the time. “We were all kind of
trained and nurtured to be kind of match fit, so that whatever David and the team threw at us, we were ready and able,” Pulver said. “And also, as women of that period, costume designer, Annie Symons, whom I’m sure you know, who just won the Emmy for Great Expectations, has us in the most beautiful kind of corsetted dresses. So just kind of being at your optimum was the goal, I think.”

Check out the full trailer below.


Da Vinci’s Demons premieres on Friday, April 12th on Starz.

Follow Matt Fowler on Twitter at @TheMattFowler

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