Long before anyone had coined the phrase “science fiction,” an Italian chap named Leonardo da Vinci was dreaming up things that could only be described as science fictional at the time. Flying machines. Submersibles. Armored tanks. A friggin’ machine gun. Needless to say, this is a fellow whose life was rich with narrative potential. That potential is going to be explored by Starz in their upcoming series Da Vinci’s Demons, and now they’ve found their leading man in British actor Tom Riley.
The series was created by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight) and BBC Worldwide Productions. The show is an “historical fantasy” that will focus on da Vinci as a young man in Renaissance Florence. Given Goyer’s writing comics and genre properties such as Jumper, it’s likely Da Vinci’s Demons won’t be a straight-up historical telling of the inventor’s life. It’s said to be telling da Vinci’s “untold story,” so we can probably expect to see some of da Vinci’s more outrageous inventions actually realized and used onscreen. The wording from Deadline‘s write-up is a bit ambiguous, explaining that da Vinci “begins to not only see the future, but invent it.” That could be metaphor, or it could mean da Vinci will literally see the future in the show. Either way, fans of the Assassins Creed games can certainly confirm that da Vinci fits comfortably into a science-fiction storyline (and designs a mean hidden blade).
Riley, who has appeared in several films and British series since 2006, apparently wowed Goyer right away. Here’s Goyer’s quote about the dude:
Given that da Vinci was the model for the ‘Renaissance Man,’ these were incredibly large shoes to fill. Leonardo had to be smart, witty, and incredibly confident — without coming across as arrogant. He also had to be tormented, because, as a true visionary and polymath, he was ostracized for his ideas as much as he was celebrated. Tom came in and was able to effortlessly combine all of those elements. As soon as he finished his audition, we knew we’d found our man.
Da Vinci’s Demons doesn’t have an official air date, but it’s believed to be slated for sometime in 2013.