Da Vinci, depicted as an old, bearded man in a widely
accepted self-portrait, is a 25-year-old swashbuckling inventor
and artist in the historical fantasy series that tells the
"untold" story before he painted the "Mona Lisa" and the "Last
In the first season, da Vinci allied himself with the ruling
Medicis against Pope Sixtus IV and the Pazzi family as they
conspired to take control of Florence. He outwitted his enemies
and dazzled Florence with amazing inventions.
"The second season just kind of kicks the doors off the story,"
said Tom Riley, 32, the British actor who plays the eccentric
young artist. "And it's bigger ... it's just more expansive.
Literally, we've opened up a world. We're no longer in Italy."
The original series, filmed in Wales and created for the Starz
U.S. premium cable channel by David S. Goyer ("The Dark Knight"
trilogy, "Man of Steel"), won two Emmys for title design and
original title theme music. It is distributed in 125 countries
by BBC Worldwide.
Little is known about the early life of da Vinci, the
illegitimate son of a notary to the Medici family and a servant
girl, giving Goyer creative license to inject a bit of magical
realism into the show.
Still, much of the series is based on historical fact, such as
the artist's acquittal of sodomy charges, he said.
"You try to find out as much as you can that is based on truth,"
said Riley about taking on the role, "and then try and find
those elements and latch onto something relevant today."
SEX, NUDITY, MURDER
Because of his incredible genius and futuristic concepts of
flying machines, explosives and powerful military machines, da
Vinci finds it difficult living in 15th century Florence, where
few understand him or his ideas. His arrogance and free-thinking
ways soon land him in trouble.
[to top of second column]
The series — with its violence, sex scenes and nudity — has been
described as raunchy. But Riley and British actress Laura Haddock,
28, who plays his lover and Lorenzo Medici's mistress Lucrezia
Donati, dismiss that characterization.
"For women at the time, it was their only power chip. They couldn't
use much else — except for their bodies," said Riley, who appeared
in the 2009 comedy "Happy Ever Afters".
The second season picks up with Florence in chaos and da Vinci
determined to continue his quest to find the mythical "Book of
Leaves," which he believes holds untold truths and could help him
find the mother who abandoned him as a baby.
"For a man who is obsessed with the most impossible things, that is
the biggest puzzle of all. It is the pot of gold at the end of the
rainbow," Riley explained.
While the new season has da Vinci looking to the future, his lover
Lucrezia goes back to the past — to when she was a teenager.
"Leonardo is off on a quest to Peru, to the other side of the world
in South America, and Lucrezia is looking back trying to avenge what
happened in the past," said Haddock, who starred in 2011's "Captain
America: The First Avenger."
"Everyone has something they are trying to find an answer to," she
added. "Everyone is either on a physical or emotional journey this
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and Gunna Dickson)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.