TBL: Da Vinci’s father ends up defending him during the trial. How does that go with dear old Dad?
TR: Piero is Lorenzo’s notary, and Lorenzo himself, as ruler of Florence, can’t be seen as getting involved with anything as inflammatory and embarrassing as a sodomy trial. So Leonardo’s father is tasked with representing him, something that doesn’t sit well with either of them. But whether they like it or not, they are father and son, and connected on a very basic human level, which is something they may come to realize more clearly during the course of the trial.
TBL: Lucrezia is present at the trial. Will we see the trial negatively affect their relationship?
TR: As it stands, their relationship isn’t necessarily the most conventional. He is certainly intrigued by her and drawn to her, and she the same with him. Leonardo is not necessarily a man inclined towards being tied down, and despite the fact they are unequivocally falling for each other, he is yet to entirely decipher her mystery.
As long as he is unable to piece together her puzzle, he can’t fully give himself over to whatever his heart is telling him. In answer to your question, the trial may indirectly have a negative effect on their relationship – but Lucrezia is already guilty of a huge amount of things that could indirectly throw a grenade into the middle of any burgeoning connection they may have.
TBL: This sounds like a very heavy episode. Is there some levity or a dash of humor at all, as the show has balanced quite well thus far.
TR: Always. As well as a subplot involving Giuliano’s attempts to mount a theatrical production in Florence, the show features a lot of the brilliant Gregg Chillin as Zoroaster, who could bring laughs to a suicide scene. Also, if you think that Leonardo has concocted a lot of ridiculous solutions to his predicaments up to this point, then this is perhaps his craziest, most unapologetically outrageous and laugh-out-loud master plan yet. Madness kicks the roof off of his self-defined limits, which were already higher than most.
Riley with Greg Chillin as Zoroaster
TBL: Bats play an important part in the episode. Is there a symbolic reason for that?
TR: Bats have the ability to fly far above the earth, but even then find themselves drawn back to the shadows and darkness. It’s very rare for David [Goyer, Exec Producer] to include something that doesn’t have multiple levels of meaning. Even if he doesn’t let us in on it. It’s also worth mentioning two things. One, is that from the very first moment Leonardo sees a bat in the jail, his plan begins. And secondly, something I didn’t know, but Leonardo does – bat guano contains phosphorous, which in the right conditions can be quite volatile…
TBL: You’re starting to shoot Season 2. As much as you’ve spent in Da Vinci’s skin this past year, is there more for you (and us) to learn.
TR: Absolutely. Hopefully the Leonardo that ends Season One is a slightly different one to the man who began it. But his quest isn’t over yet, and there’s still plenty of room for him to grow from the cocky arrogant character he was claimed to be in his youth, to the wise and philosophical elder statesman so often recognized in the legacy he left behind.
[Here is what Tom Riley left in the comments section of this interview earlier today.]
Hello everyone. Thank you for your heartfelt and honest responses to this interview. Having read through the comment thread, I wanted to take a moment to respond to your concerns directly and personally, as I agree with you – the interview above does come across as a little angry and affronted on the page – and I promise you that certainly wasn’t what I felt when answering. Instead, when I said that it ‘was tough to read’ the online criticism, I was referring to how distressing it was to feel that I could potentially be involved in a portrayal that could cause any upset or anxiety to anyone. That is truly the last thing I would ever want. I promise. Although you may have inferred otherwise, I do, of course, completely understand why the notion of ‘straight-washing’ a man many believe was gay, bisexual or asexual could be perceived as offensive or misguided, and I would never dream of dismissing it – but please bear in mind that I was answering from a position of knowing what’s coming, and I sincerely hope that you will watch tomorrow night and see how we attempt to tackle an issue that is (sadly) still an incredibly difficult one for mainstream US drama – particularly when it involves the lead, as some of you have already noted. This response is written with the deepest respect, and great admiration for your passionate defence of this issue. It is one that matters hugely to me. I know this claim won’t necessarily alleviate your concerns, but I do want you to know that someone within the production understands and sympathises with them. The second half of this interview, when posted next week, may shed more light on exactly how much. With my very best wishes and support. Tom Riley ]
Da Vinci’s Demons airs Fridays at 10pm on Starz.