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'Da Vinci's Demons' stars Riley and Chillin react to third-season renewal

The production envy other U.K. actors feel toward stylish Da Vinci’s Demons will continue into a third season, as Starz on Tuesday announced renewal of the series. In town to meet with the show’s writing team, actors Tom Riley and Gregg Chillin, who play Leonardo da Vinci and his best pal Zoroaster, respectively, stopped by EW’s Los Angeles office to humblebrag (read: they’re super-nice) about their roles on the series and the upcoming season.

Da Vinci's Demons creator David S. Goyer (Starz)Man, do they ever have a lot of humblebragging to do: They star in a series — the “untold story of the world’s greatest genius” — from the mind of David S. Goyer, writer of a collection not just of films, but of an orgy of superhero-fantasy-action film benchmarks, including Batman Begins, the Blade franchise, Man of Steel and, according to rumor, the upcoming Justice League. Riley plays Leonardo da Vinci, who just so happens to be the guy who put the “Man” in “Renaissance Man.” Italian polymath da Vinci was a painter, inventor, architect, sculptor, mathematician and musician who excelled in more of the sciences than the run-of-the-mill human comes into contact with over the course of his or her entire life. If you were alive in the late 1400s to early 1500s, Leo was the guy to know, and probably immensely annoying to people who were just average geniuses at the time. Both actors have the pleasure of inhabiting a rich world built by production designer Edward Thomas (Doctor Who, Torchwood), which surely can account for at least a portion of their impressively immersive performances.

Too much? I recap the show for EW’s Community and can attest that the series rarely strikes a false chord. It strikes a high fantasy chord, but never takes a lazy series’ path. The international Da Vinci’s Demons fan community is passionate about the show because, like that other fantasy confection audiences are currently devouring, Game of Thrones, watching the show is an experience, completely unrecognizable from that of standard prime-time pap. (Take a lesson, you prime-time pap.)

Da Vinci's Demons, ep 207: Nico, Riario, Leonardo, Zoroaster (Starz)It doesn’t hurt that the cast is also collectively one of the most beautiful on television: Riley, Chillin, Laura Haddock (Lucrezia Donati), Elliot Cowen (Lorenzo Medici), Blake Ritson (Girolamo Riario), Lara Pulver (Clarice Orsini), Hera Hilmar (Vanessa), cherub-like Eros Vlahos (Nico) and so on. Even a recurring character like the Duke of Urbino, with his missing eye and half-face scar, has an earthiness and swagger about him. It’s unfair to other series, truth be told.

Riley promises that the lawless approach to Da Vinci’s Demons‘ plot development still stands with the season 3 changeover to new showrunner John Shiban (The X-Files, Breaking Bad, Hell on Wheels). Here’s more of what I was able to squeeze out of the actors about the next season (SPOILERS, naturally):

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First let’s talk about season 3: That’s very exciting news (the renewal announced by Starz days before).

Tom Riley: Yeah, we’re very pleased.

(Laughing) Is that all you have to say?

Riley (emphasizes): We’re very pleased. We’re really — we’re thrilled.

Are we going to get more “Mona Lisa”?

Riley: In 3? Well, we left it dangling, certainly, that it’s potentially someone very important in his life, but I don’t know what their plans are. I’d love to be able to say one way or another. What I do know from speaking to the writers is that they’re very excited about going back to the threads we’ve seeded in the first two seasons and paying them off. I can’t say. I don’t know. It’s not like I’m keeping a secret; I just don’t know.

Gregg Chillin: We’re super-excited about season 3, with John coming in and a whole new array of writers. We went in the other day and met them all — Tom’s obviously met them before, but for me, for the first time. It’s exciting.

Riley: They’re an incredibly smart bunch, and they’ve got a kind of intimidating CV between them of shows that I have been in awe of, and now to know that they’ve been behind the ideas that I have been stunned by in my television-watching experience, and now they’re going to be writing our show — that’s very cool.

There’s been so much to the story already. I think I may have actually fallen off the couch when Vlad the Impaler was introduced last season.

Riley: “What are they doing? There’s no rules!”


Da Vinci's Demons, ep 204: Zoroaster, Amerigo (Starz)
To take a historical figure as well known as that and to just drop him into this adventure tale is amazing. I want to know if [to Chillin] your character is going to be frenemies with Amerigo Vespucci throughout, or at some point are they going to kill each other.

Chillin: The truth is: I really don’t know, because all the new (writers) are still sort of plotting and planning, aren’t they?

Riley: Certainly this season …

Chillin: Oh, certainly season 2. I mean, yeah, you pretty much got it right: It gets very life-or-death between us.

Riley: It actually does.

Chillin: It actually does.

Riley: No one knows that.

Chillin: I actually forgot about that: So you’re going to see some action finally materialize instead of just the usual snipes. I forgot about that.

Riley: The Vespucci idea, it is crazy, but actually, in the grand scheme of some of the crazier things we’ve done, it’s not as mad as all that. He was there, he was in Florence at that time; their paths would have crossed. You know, right back there in that second episode of the first season, we put that map of South America on the wall, so the plan always was to go there. David had always said to us, at the beginning of the first season, “You know, if we have season 2, this is what’s happening. And that’s why that map’s there.” So Vespucci is the obvious addition because he is the man who first went there, and actually, they found out a lot about him, that he was a bit of a chancer, and he was a bit of a player, and he was renowned for taking credit for things that he actually didn’t do. So Lee (Boardman) took that idea and ran with it. We love Lee. We’re big fans of Lee Boardman, who plays Vespucci, and he’s a big deal in England. He’s a very famous actor in England who’s done loads and loads of stuff. He’s the one who can’t go out in Swansea (where Da Vinci’s Demons is filmed) without getting mobbed.

Well, I congratulate him on that performance, because it’s very entertaining.

Chillin: That first scene, when he’s lying (down), pretending to be dead. I mean, what a scene! Loved it.


You said that you came to L.A. to visit the writers of season 3 — do they tell you anything? Can you even tell me if they tell you things?

Riley: Yeah, they tell us things. (smirks) And we hear things, and we listen, and then we remain secret about them forever.

And then they put a map of … China on the wall.

Riley: And then we go, “That’s season 4: China.” (laughs) I wouldn’t be surprised. The point of season 2 was to get these characters who’d been in this little melting pot in Florence for the first season and put them out of their comfort zone. Everyone goes through a changing experience, and then experiences things that sort of knock them off balance slightly. And by the end of the season, which we’re approaching now, which you’ve seen in the next one, which is the conclusion of Peru, from the end of the season, they’re thrown back together and all these competing story threads that at the moment seem very disparate actually end up intertwining, and you realize that they’ve all been leading to the same place. And then season 3, I think, will continue with the core people altogether again — depending on what they choose to do with it.


Da Vinci's Demons: Zoroaster (Gregg Chillin) - StarzChillin: And also, we barely touched upon our characters’ individual personal lives. You know, no one knows what Zo gets up to when he’s not with Leo or digging up a body. There’s so much more to explore, and I know that that is going to be revealed and explored and developed in season 3. You know: How we met. Why we met. Why I hang around.


I’m trying to consider the scale of the number of people in the world because people might say, “Leonardo didn’t cross paths with so-and-so,” but they might have, because there was a smaller population at the time. Have any researchers given you that perspective: “Just so you know, there were only 500 people living in this particular quarter —”?

Riley: It’s funny that you should say that, because we were just in the writers’ room yesterday, discussing a moment in a potential future episode where characters bump into each other in Florence, and there was the question, “Well, can people bump into each other? It’s a city, you know —” Well actually, yes, they were tiny. The city itself was nowhere near as big and sprawling as it is now, and it’s even not that big now. We went and launched the show in season 1, and we could walk round in a day. It’s beautiful. Actually there weren’t that many people. There was a thoroughfare that everyone used to get everywhere; everyone was constantly walking back and forth across the Ponte Vecchio. So to be honest, it’s actually not too far out of the realm of possibility. Things like Vlad [the Impaler from season 1], I mean, he was around at the same time. Romania was not that far from you; you could get there by horse in a week or so, two weeks. That was more a case of, “Well, they probably didn’t — but what if they did?”

Da Vinci's Demons, episode 204 (Starz)I was having that thought, in part, because of Copernicus: The season 2 scene where you fall to the deck of the ship and realize the heliocentric nature of the universe — which is a great, great moment. I loved it. And I thought, Well, they lived at the same time, they could have possibly had a chat or something. But really, he could have.

Riley: He absolutely could have. He could have sort of relayed his ideas to Copernicus. Because Leonardo, he died leaving behind, I think, 16,000 pages of notebooks, and only 8,000 pages of them survive. And in those 8,000 pages, there’s so much stuff that, in theory, that other 8,000 may have the same amount of stuff that — we just don’t know. He was coming up with ideas that were so outlandish and strange, there’s a chance that he did have ideas about (blood) circulation, he did have ideas about the night sky, he did have ideas about that stuff — but they happen to be the ideas that are lost to history. And we’re going to get into in later seasons, in the next season, why those pages are missing, and why he began to sort of keep things a secret and hide things. It’s a possibility he talked to Copernicus, but it’s also a possibility he didn’t — he just had the idea and then never showed anyone, because it was never properly fully realized.

In my follow-up post, learn more about Riley and Chillin’s takes on Vlad the Impaler’s appearance in season 1, as well as their views on instantaneous interactions with fans on social media, Mona Lisa conspiracy theories and why the BBC, according to Riley, may create a “voodoo doll” of him over his role in the upcoming season of Doctor Who.

‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ interview part 2:
More season 3, ‘Doctor Who’ gag rules >

Da Vinci’s Demons, rated TV-MA, airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.

Da Vinci's Demons season 2 keyartDa Vinci’s Demons seasons 1 and 2 are available to watch on Starz On Demand.

Season 1 can also be streamed or downloaded at:

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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