Two longer versions of the Associated Press video interview, which Tom did in New York before the Da Vinci's Demons premiere in April, have been shared on You Tube. The original version is only 2 minutes 40 seconds long; the 2 new ones uploaded by AP News are around 4 mintes each. Here is part 1, along with the transcript.
Taking on the role of young Leonardo is British actor Tom Riley - a relative newcomer to U.S. audiences. He says even though he'd studied Da Vinci there's a lot about his youth that surprised him.
"We meet a Leonardo who is - is not the man we know yet. He's not the man history mythologized yet," said Riley. "He's arrogant. He's got a huge mind, but not necessarily the common sense that goes with it. He's constantly frustrated that he's the smartest man in the room and everyone else around him can't quite keep up. He's illegitimate, so he's incapable of inheriting wealth. He can't join any of the guilds of artists. He can't, he can't - well, he's a bastard. He's an outcast in Florentine society and so what we see is a man who knows what he can bring to the world could be something that could revolutionize it and yet he's incapable of doing so."
As Riley notes, it is made clear that the TV series takes some liberty with history - or how to explain missing details of Da Vinci's past.
"David (Goyer) is very, very, very clear to make out that it's a historical fantasy," said Riley. "We're trying to make the most fun version of this period of history that we possibly can."
Given Goyer's love of superheroes, it's not surprising that this young Da Vinci is a larger-than-life character, but Riley notes the man was also a legend in his own time.
"I read a biography about him - written by someone within 50 years of his life - by Giorgio Vasari - one of the only ones that was actually written by someone who was a relative contemporary of his that said that he could bend iron bars with his bare hands, that Leonardo da Vinci was a man of incredible aesthetic beauty, who had a body that isn't written about enough, who was an incredible swordsman - stuff that you think - obviously as far as the iron bars' concern, this is an exaggeration, but he obviously encouraged or led people to think in very odd terms about him. So you combined that kind of hero worship with the greatest mind in history and you do get a kind of superhero character, which makes David Goyer the perfect man to write him."
Some of details of Da Vinci's history seem to link him to Batman. Both had issues with parental loss and - as Riley notes - both had traumatic issues with a cave.
"As far as the fear of the cave is concerned, we know that there was - it was written in his notebooks - there was a there was a formula to the experience in a cave," he said. "We don't know what it was. We try and answer and there is no recorded answer in history as to what that could be, but we certainly have a stab at what could be the craziest thing it could be and as far as the chest being rigged was concerned, we don't necessarily know whether he had the ability to set traps such as that, but we do know, for example, I was in Vinci (Italy) the other week in the home where he was born and we met an historian and he told us that towards the end of his life when he was working for the King of France he made a robotic lion that walks towards the King of France and then his chest opened up and revealed a bunch of flowers for the King. And when you think, 'Well, that's just insane.'
There's a thing that appears in episode four - a gigantic weapon - I won't spoil what it is - but we all watched it on the television and almost laughed at it and then went to the Da Vinci museum and it was there - that very thing. It's completely, perfectly re-created. So there are moments in our show that are willfully and gleefully preposterous - on purpose - we're there to have fun, but there are other things in that appear insane and they're real."