Part 2 of the longer versions of the Associated Press video interview, which Tom did in New York before the Da Vinci's Demons premiere in April. The first uploaded version is only 2 minutes 40 seconds long; the 2 uploaded by AP News are around 4 mintes each. The video and an interview transcript are below.
British actor Tom Riley takes on the role of da Vinci in the series. He says there's a number of Batman-Da Vinci correlations in the show and one clear nod for the audience. Riley notes that Batman creator
"Bob Kane based his designs for Batman's cape upon da Vinci's glider and in the show Leonardo says that the glider is based on the articulated wings of a bat. It is a little wink but it's also true. You can see Leonardo had an absolute obsession with flight as a man who constantly felt constricted by the world around him and this is certainly the case in our show. He desperately wanted to take off and be free and get away and I think birds represented that to him."
While a good deal of information about da Vinci's youth is unknown or disputed, it's known that he was arrested several times for sodomy in Florence, Italy. Riley says the series does address questions about da Vinci's sexuality.
"In Florentine society it would have been - they dealt with labels in a very different way to how we do now and I think the idea to Leonardo that he would be pinned down and defined in one way or another would be abhorrent to him. I think actually the idea that anyone should be constrained by something was something that he was very keenly against and in the case of our show we certainly don't stray away from that - what would've been controversial then and is controversial now because it makes for a far more interesting hero. I mean, sodomy and homosexuality was punishable by death at that time. So certainly Leonardo was a man who found the human form fascinating in whatever guise it took."
Each season the series will center around one real major historical event. In the first season it's tensions between Rome and Florence before Italy was united that set the stage. But the series also turns to the real mystery cult the Sons of Mithras that existed in ancient times. Riley says the show's imagined secrets of the Sons of Mithras form a thread that will follow throughout the series.
"Well, it's very much the idea that all knowledge can kind of the evaporated over time when civilizations fall it takes a whole load of things that may have been - the Library of Alexandria - when it was burnt to the ground - what great pieces of knowledge may have been lost forever to time?
According to Riley, "the Sons of Mithras imply to Leonardo that there may have been a huge wealth of knowledge that is now gone but exists somewhere in this thing called 'The Book of Leaves' and to a man like Leonardo who perceived that knowledge is everything the idea that out there could be the answers to which he could sell his personal problems as well as open up a whole new world to society is just catnip to him."