[NYCC 2014] Interview with Da Vinci’s Demons Star Tom Riley

[NYCC 2014] Interview with Da Vinci’s Demons Star Tom Riley

October 20, 2014 1 By Steph Mernagh

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 lead actor Tom Riley (who plays Leonardo da Vinci) 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.

So, season three!

I hesitate to say it’s a different beast but it’s taken a slightly different approach under John Shiban as the new guy in that he’s wanted to delve deeper into the characters and make them richer and use more of the ability of television to explore the characters one at a time and it’s improved the show to an extent but we are really proud of it this year. I can’t stress enough how good I think it is. That’s a very dangerous thing to say!

In the closing shot of season two you are [SPOILER!] about to blow up your mom that you just spent two seasons

Tom Riley at New York Comic Con 2014 Photography by Marc Daniel Delledonne for Geek Chic Elite.

Tom Riley at New York Comic Con 2014
Photography by Marc Daniel Delledonne for Geek Chic Elite.

looking for so what can you say in broad, hinting terms as to what we are going to see about that in season three?

Yes, or am I about to? The thing is I want to tell you something and I’m sure John Shiban will come over here and give it all away and I’ll feel bad about hiding it. But, all I will say is that the decision he makes in the first five minutes of the new season will affect everything from that point on. The next ten episodes will all be a result of what he chooses to do or not do, but we’ll wrap it up very quickly. That was a mean cliffhanger.

We’ve seen a lot of scenery changes in the past two years with characters going across the globe and now we’re back home in Italy again for the third season, is that correct?

We can’t necessarily continue on the quests that’s driven him for the past two years because it’s all come home to roost. The invasion that’s been brought down partly by Lucrezia is going to affect Italy in such a gigantic way that he’s going to find himself tested in ways that he hasn’t been before.

What can we expect from your character going forward and where does he currently stand?

Right at the end of season two he lost Verrochio. We started the show with almost a superheroic Leonardo da Vinci; a man who could seemingly invent things overnight; a man who was unchallenged by everyone around him and who was arrogant as a result. Very cocky. We just tried to say how will he eventually become the man that we know from the history books. What has to happen to him in order to marry up with the person that is in society’s view. We decided we were going to knock him off of his pedestal hard and the end of season two was the beginning of that.

What do you like the most about the real Leonardo da Vinci?

The real one? Well, he had a ridiculously well cultivated beard! [laughs] Seriously though, it’s a respectable beard. The thing about the real Leonardo da Vinci and what I love is how people are still eminently fascinated with him and how they’re constantly bringing up these things that they had no idea existed. There’s always something in the paper saying ‘oh we found out he found a different way of doing Fresco’, ‘we think the skull of Mona Lisa may be buried in a church yard somewhere’. People are just fascinated and there’s no one else quite like that in popular culture – though I hesitate to call him popular culture – but it’s historical culture worth obsessing over.

Leonardo’s relationship with the Count [Riario] changes in season two; do you think since they were forced to work together that has forged some kind of mutual respect despite them not really liking each other?

I hesitate to say they don’t like each other. I think there is a mutual respect there that comes from an understanding of one another that no one else really gets them as much as the Count gets Leonardo and vice versa. They’re coming from a very similar place and they’re being driven by very similar obsessions and they have very similar issues. As a result they have formed a bond that isn’t going to be going anywhere. The relationship will continue to grow in the coming series in very cool ways.


How did you enjoy playing Robin Hood against Peter Capaldi? And, tying that back to da Vinci, how do you feel about the documentary that is voiced by Capaldi?

I loved it! Peter had already done that before I did Robin Hood about three years ago. In fact, just as I got the job, I saw Peter do that. He’s a wildly respected actor in England anyway. Robin Hood was a joy to do. Peter is infectious and he loves the show [Doctor Who] inside and out. What was great about it was when you shoot on location – obviously Doctor Who is a giant beast – there would always be hundreds of kids queuing to see him. The best thing I saw was that these children were a little unnerved that their Doctor had changed face from Matt to Peter. Peter was climbing up a hill near these kids and he put out his hand to them and said, “Can you give me a hand up this hill? I’m 2000 years old” and these kids all helped him up the hill and I thought, “you were born to play this role!”

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.