A wonderful new interview with Tom along with this gorgeous photo for the Wall Street Journal has been shared online. Tom gives some fascinating background to playing such a multi faceted character. As always, read it in full on the website.
“I really just prepared each scene individually,” Riley, 32 years old, said of portraying da Vinci’s many facets. “Bring the vulnerability here, have the arrogance, charm there. Cruelty there. Play the contradictions you read about, try and put them all into one body.” “Da Vinci’s Demons,” which premieres on Starz tonight, was filmed in Wales.
Riley, who lives in North London, sat with Speakeasy for coffee in Manhattan to discuss taking on the ultimate Renaissance man.
In almost every scene you’re bare-chested, and you sport a beard. How did you get the look?
I spent a lot of time on it, you know how these things work in studios. There’s lots of people arguing about the beard. We spent more time talking about the bloody beard than we talked about anything, and people going back and forth about what should it look like, how should it be? The chest exposure was chilly. You’re shooting in Wales pretending it’s Renaissance Florence. Your nipples could cut through windscreens. They hired a gym team and had a discussion about what Leonardo should look like. It’s got to be aesthetically pleasing for TV and also, I read the Giorgio Vasari biography, “Lives of the Artists,” that actually is this strangely awed account of him, one of the only ones written by a relative contemporary. It says how aesthetically pleasing Leonardo is. It even says he has a body beautiful that is not written enough about, and he could bend an iron bar with his bare hands. So I thought, you know what, it’s not too much of a stretch to think that a man who was supposedly the model for a young David, it wasn’t too much of a stretch that he should be in great shape. So they put me in touch with people who got me in the best shape of my life, which was lovely, but I missed every bit of food that I enjoy eating.
Show Patrol posted an amazing review for Da Vinci's Demons and Tom's performance.
"Da Vinci's Demons" can't help but get your blood pumping, too, if only for its creative depiction of the inventor's process and the enthusiasm star Tom Riley injects into his character as Leo achieves the high standards he sets for himself. (And if that doesn't do it, there's plenty of the sex and swordplay apparently required of cable period pieces these days.)
Goyer, who also directed the first two episodes, brings Leo's creative process to breathtaking life by using da Vinci's famous sketches in animated form. In the premiere, Leo has his devoted apprentice Nico (Eros Vlahos) toss birds his way. As they race toward the inventor in beautiful slow motion and he furiously sketches their wings, those sketches fly off his page and onto the screen.
Riley is as charismatic as those scenes are imaginative. Equal parts cocky and haunted, his Leo carelessly flouts authority and is prone to eccentric habits, but quickly falls into despair as he struggles with feelings of alienation brought on by his unhappy early years and an unhealthy obsession with destiny.