Da Vinci's Demons

Last updated

Da Vinci's Demons
Da Vinci's Demons - Title Card.jpg
Created by David S. Goyer
Theme music composer Bear McCreary
ComposerBear McCreary
Country of origin
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes28 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
ProducersMarco Ramirez
Matthew Bouch
Production location Wales
  • Tim Murrell
  • Philip Kloss
  • John Richards
  • Nick Arthurs
Camera setup Multiple
Running time47–55 minutes
Production companies
  • Phantom Four Films
  • Adjacent Productions
DistributorTonto Films and Television Limited
Original network
  • Starz (United States)
  • Fox (United Kingdom)
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original release12 April 2013 (2013-04-12) 
26 December 2015 (2015-12-26)
External links
Official website

Da Vinci's Demons is a historical fantasy drama series that presents a fictional account of Leonardo da Vinci's early life. [1] [2] The series was conceived by David S. Goyer and stars Tom Riley in the title role. [3] It was developed and produced in collaboration with BBC Worldwide and was shot in Wales. [4] The series has been distributed to over 120 countries. [5]


The show follows Leonardo as he is implicated in the political schemes of the Medici and Pazzi families and their contrasting relationships with the Catholic Church. These events occur alongside Leonardo's quest to obtain the Book of Leaves as he finds himself entangled with a cult known as the Sons of Mithras.

The series premiered in the United States on Starz on 12 April 2013, and its second season premiered on 22 March 2014. [6] The series was renewed for a third season, which premiered on 24 October 2015. [7] On 23 July 2015, Starz announced that the third season would be the show's last. [8] However, Goyer has left it open for a miniseries return. [9]


A fictionalised story based on historical persons, the series explores the early life of Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance in Italy. He is an eccentric genius who has struggled to deal with his inner demons and unruly imagination, as he yearns for acceptance from his estranged father. Their sometimes antagonistic relationship results in Leonardo's working for the House of Medici. While doing so, he becomes embroiled in a political scheme to control Florence, as he hunts for a spy who is revealing information to the Catholic Church and the Pazzi family. He also begins an affair with Lucrezia Donati, Lorenzo de' Medici's mistress. The series depicts many of Leonardo's inventions and subsequent works as a military engineer for the Duke of Milan and the Borgias.

These events coincide with Leonardo's quest to uncover the Book of Leaves. He is guided by a mystic to unlock the hidden areas of his mind by accessing the Fountain of Memory, as he becomes involved with a mysterious cult known as the Sons of Mithras. They inform him that he has the power not only to see the future but also to shape it.

Cast and characters



Guest and cameo


Tom Riley was the first actor to be cast in the series, as The Hollywood Reporter announced he had landed the role as da Vinci. Goyer and managing director Carmi Zlotnik revealed he was cast as he could portray the character with many dimensions that would appeal to a worldwide audience. [11] They later reported that Laura Haddock had been cast in the female lead as Lucrezia Donati. [12]


The series has marked the first collaboration between Starz and BBC Worldwide following a new production agreement. Fox International Channels picked up the series for global distribution. [2] [13] The show was created by Goyer, who directed the first two episodes and wrote several others along writers such as Scott Gimple, Brian Nelson and Joe Ahearne. [14]

Filming for the series took place in the United Kingdom, at Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot and Margam Castle in Wales. A 265,000-square-foot (24,600 m2) studio in Swansea Gate Business Park was also used and several sets were built to resemble 15th-century Florence. [15] Annie Symons was brought on board as the lead costume designer. [16] Bear McCreary composed the score for the series, and orchestrated the main theme to reflect Leonardo's use of mirror writing. [17] Goyer had a scene in episode five depicting a kiss between Leonardo and Jacopo Saltarelli filmed in secret as he feared network interference. [18]

Goyer revealed to USA Today at the New York Comic Con that season two would also be set in South America and would feature Machu Picchu and the Inca Empire. Goyer claimed that this was justified by "new research" that has revealed Chinese and European explorers may have arrived in the New World earlier than was originally believed. [19]

Sexuality of Leonardo

There is widespread belief that Leonardo was primarily if not exclusively sexually attracted to and involved with men. Goyer acknowledged this and said that the show would not shy away from the subject. [20] Riley cited that because the speculation exists it is something that should be honoured. [21]

In a later interview with the gay-interest website The Backlot, Riley expressed his hope that the episode addressed concerns about the show's depiction of Leonardo's sexuality in a way that is satisfactory and respectful to any historical beliefs. [22]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 8April 12, 2013 (2013-04-12)June 7, 2013 (2013-06-07)
2 10March 22, 2014 (2014-03-22)May 31, 2014 (2014-05-31)
3 10October 24, 2015 (2015-10-24)December 26, 2015 (2015-12-26)


Season 1 has received favourable reviews from critics. It holds a 63% approval rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, based on 32 collected critic reviews, with an average score of 6.1/10. The sites consensus reads: "Despite its preposterous plotting and lack of historical accuracy, Da Vinci's Demons is energetic, enjoyable escapist television." [23] It also holds a Metacritic score of 62 out of 100, based on 27 critics reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". [24]


Da Vinci's Demons received three nominations for Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Main Title Theme Music and Outstanding Special Visual Effects at the 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The series won Main Title Design and Main Title Theme Music, but lost Visual Effects to the Cinemax series Banshee . [25]

Home media


TitleNo. of discsRelease date
Region 1
Region 2
Region 4
The Complete First Season33 September 201331 March 20147 May 2014
The Complete Second Season3 (UK/US) / 4 (AUS)3 March 201513 April 20152 July 2014
The Complete Third Season3 (UK/US) / 4 (AUS)26 January 201626 January 201626 January 2016

[ citation needed ]


TitleNo. of discsRelease date
Region A
Region B (UK)
The Complete First Season33 September 201331 March 2014
The Complete Second Season33 March 201531 August 2015
The Complete Third Season326 January 201626 January 2016

[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Leonardo da Vinci Italian Renaissance polymath

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draughtsman, theorist, engineer, scientist, sculptor and architect,. While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he also became known for his notebooks, in which he made drawings and notes on a variety of subjects, including anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, painting, and paleontology. Leonardo's genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal, and his collective works compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivaled only by that of his younger contemporary and fellow founder of the High Renaissance, Michelangelo.

Lorenzo de Medici Italian statesman and de facto dictator of the Florentine Republic

Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici was an Italian statesman, banker, de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic and the most powerful and enthusiastic patron of Renaissance culture in Italy. Also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent by contemporary Florentines, he was a magnate, diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists, and poets. As a patron, he is best known for his sponsorship of artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo. He held the balance of power within the Italic League, an alliance of states that stabilized political conditions on the Italian peninsula for decades, and his life coincided with the mature phase of the Italian Renaissance and the Golden Age of Florence. On the foreign policy front, Lorenzo manifested a clear plan to stem the territorial ambitions of Pope Sixtus IV, in the name of the balance of the Italian League of 1454. For these reasons, Lorenzo was the subject of the Pazzi conspiracy (1478), in which his brother Giuliano was assassinated. The Peace of Lodi of 1454 that he helped maintain among the various Italian states collapsed with his death. He is buried in the Medici Chapel in Florence.

Giuliano de Medici 15th-century Italian nobleman, brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent

Giuliano de' Medici was the second son of Piero de' Medici and Lucrezia Tornabuoni. As co-ruler of Florence, with his brother Lorenzo the Magnificent, he complemented his brother's image as the "patron of the arts" with his own image as the handsome, sporting, "golden boy."

David S. Goyer American screenwriter, film director, novelist, and comic book writer

David Samuel Goyer is an American filmmaker, novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for writing the screenplays to several superhero films, including Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (film) (1998), the Blade trilogy (1998–2004), Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy (2005–2012), Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). He has also directed four films: Zig Zag (2002), Blade: Trinity (2004), The Invisible (2007) and The Unborn (2009).

Cultural references to Leonardo da Vinci

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Girolamo Riario

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Francesco de Pazzi

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Frank Spotnitz American television writer and executive producer

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Clarice Orsini Wife of Lorenzo de Medici

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