| NEW YORK, March 20
NEW YORK, March 20 Renaissance genius Leonardo
da Vinci leaves the feuding, scheming and sexual intrigues of
15th century Florence behind as he sets off for the mysterious
New World in the second season of TV's "Da Vinci's Demons" that
begins on Saturday.
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
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.
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
"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 season."
(Editing by Eric Kelsey and Gunna Dickson)