[NYCC 2014] Interview with Da Vinci’s Demons Star Blake RitsonOctober 20, 2014
This past weekend at New York Comic Con, fans had the chance to see their favorite actors from the Starz television series, Da Vinci’s Demons during a panel. We also had the opportunity to join fellow media members and actor Blake Ritson who plays the engaging Count Girolamo Riario in a roundtable discussion.
Da Vinci’s Demons is a historical drama series about a fictional account of the early life of Leonardo da Vinci and the first two seasons were written by David S. Goyer (writer for Chrisopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Man of Steel, Call of Duty: Black Ops). Now headed into their third season with two primetime Emmy wins for Main Title Design and Main Title Theme Music, Da Vinci’s Demons will be airing sometime in 2015.
Riario goes through a big evolution character-wise and by the end of season two he’s more disillusioned than anyone else but he has a lot of interesting possibilities come season three.
Absolutely. I have an absolute ball playing Riario. As you say it’s been such an intricate, winding and complicated journey where he starts as this ruthless bastard and primary antagonist and by the end of season two he’s been pushed mentally and physically and we find out he’s killed his mother, he stabbed his girlfriend, he’s failed to find any redemption, he’s tried to kill himself and he’s been abducted by a subterranian cult that’s tried to brainwash him – I think he’s had better days in the office. We start this season in the darkest of dark places; he’s at absolute rock bottom and he’s in search of a god who will answer his pleas. He needs a sense of redemption and purpose and this search puts him on a most dangerous trajectory – he’s pushed like never before and it’s more hazardous than ever before.
He has hit bottom, literally…
You think he’s hit rock bottom now… wait until you finish season three. It gets pretty nasty but I think that’s the going theme of the year. We’re so used to seeing the characters triumph over adversary against the odds but this year a lot of characters, if not all of them, are knocked off their pedestals and brought out of their comfort zone and they’re swept so far out that some of them don’t make it back. There is a high death count this year and the characters are in real jeopardy, so don’t get too attached. [laughs]
If you had one piece of advice for Riario, what would it be?
Change your optician. [laughs] You need some new sunglasses, they’re very 1477.
How hard was it to get those scripts and read that Riario keeps spiraling downward?
Do you know, I have to say, before I knew we were coming back for season three, it slightly broke my heart the idea of where we left Riario. At the end it was just him chained upside down with eyes being tortured by the Enemies of Man. You know, you become very fond of characters when you play them and I think for all the awful things that he’s done, he’s always done them for the right reasons. He’s always believed in his slightly megalomaniac way that he’s saving the world and he’s a crusader for good. Even killing Zita, he’s made terrible sacrifices so the idea that the end of all that – if that was the last piece of his journey was him being locked up underground being tortured would have been horrifying. I’m delighted he has a chance to go somewhere else and I won’t say whether or not he finds redemption but I will say he’s certainly searching for it.
Did you know all of these things about your character in advance?
That’s a great question. I had a really great chat with John Shiban before this series started and with David Goyer before each previous season just to get a sense of where the arc was going because you want to know, roughly, where your character is headed and they don’t always fill it all in so you don’t know precisely what the specifics will be, but you have enough to know your trajectory is and how to map it and chart it through the show. But, they will see what you are doing on set and they will re-write scenes later in response to it so it’s a very organic approach which is just lovely.
When you play someone that’s bad, that character just thinks they’re right and everyone else is wrong, is that the same with Riario?
I’m sure there are characters out there that are willfully mischievous and do awful things but for Riario – I remember right from day one defending not being the villain of the piece thinking actually in this very amoral universe, he’s the character with the most convictions, he’s the one making the greatest sacrifices – it’s a shame that his father the Pope is such a psychopath pedophile but thems the breaks. [laughs]
How do you approach playing a character who has gone through such a change in moral compass?
It’s a challenge. I love it and that’s what’s great about it. None of the characters are treading water on this show; they’re all pushed into very dark, complex places and I think right from the beginning when David Goyer set this up, all of the characters were these wonderful, broken, dark, mythological creations and I think we’ve just run with that and last year we split up all of the characters into the four corners of the Earth and this year we see them brought back together and become unified under the threat of the Ottoman Empire and we suddenly realize that all the characters are completely different from season one and it’s largely the impact that they’ve had on each other. We really dig deep into characters this year and I think we’ve all had real fun with that and the challenge. The writing is tremendous this year.
How does Riario now feel about da Vinci now that his belief system has been torn away?
I don’t want to say too much, but we begin the season roughly where we end in terms of their relationship so they did form this on-off antagonistic co-dependance and I think there is a mutual respect when we start the season but it will get messy. It will get… very messy.
You can get all of the Da Vinci’s Demons show information that you’d like, watch trailers and read about the episodes on Starz official website.