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'Da Vinci's Demons' begins

Tom Riley as Leonardo da Vinci in “Da

Tom Riley as Leonardo da Vinci in “Da Vinci’s Demons” Credit: Tom Riley as Leonardo da Vinci in “Da Vinci’s Demons”

For such a well-known, beloved figure, there is a surprising dearth of movies or television series about Leonardo da Vinci.

Sure, there have been some — a TV miniseries here, a 1990s direct-to-VHS schlock fest there — but all things considered, the Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, inventor, writer, etc., is an untapped historical figure primed to be utilized for storytelling.

And utilized he is as the focus of Starz’s new series “Da Vinci’s Demons,” which debuts Friday.

Created by David S. Goyer — who co-wrote the screenplay to “Batman Begins” and wrote the upcoming Superman reboot, “Man of Steel,” among other credits — the show follows a younger, fictionalized da Vinci (Tom Riley) living in Florence during the Renaissance, as he tries to find a mysterious book, builds technologically advanced inventions and carouses about town.

“In my opinion, they made movies and TV shows about far less illustrious characters than da Vinci, and I’m kind of amazed,” Goyer says.

“The more I study about him, the more I couldn’t believe. You could make a TV show or a movie or a series of movies about any numbers of aspects of his life or periods in his life,” Goyer adds.

Goyer — who is a bit of a Renaissance man himself as a director and writer of films, TV shows and comics — was brought in by the show’s producers to do “a ‘Batman Begins version of history.” They mulled different historical figures before settling on da Vinci.
“There’s almost universal recognition,” Goyer explains. “He’s a mythic figure.”
Still, the da Vinci that’s most familiar to the public is an older man, not the youthful Leo you’ll see in “Demons.”

“The public’s conception of da Vinci is he’s this old guy with a beard. He looks like Merlin,” Goyer says. “But the fact of the matter is, he was this really vibrant young guy.”

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