The end is near for Leonardo Da Vinci. Starz’s hit period/fantasy series Da Vinci’s Demons is coming to an end with the upcoming third season, which launches in both the Unites States and the UK later this week.
From the mind of legendary writer/producer David S. Goyer, Da Vinci’s Demons has captivated audiences around the world with the “untold” story of renaissance man Leonardo Da Vinci, played by Tom Riley, as he evades papal plots to find the mysterious Book of Leaves after getting involved with a mysterious group known as the Sons of Mythras.
Da Vinci’s Demons features a strong cast that alongside Tom Riley also includes Greg Chillin as Zoroaster, Eros Vlahos as Nico, Laura Haddock as Lucrezia Donati, Blake Ritson as Count Girolamo Riario, Elliot Cowan as Lorenzo de’ Medici, Lara Pulver as Clarice Orsini and James Faulkner as the nefarious Pope Sixtus IV.
When season two wrapped its run more than a year ago, Da Vinci was in the city of Otranto facing down an impending Ottoman invasion alongside his father and Lorenzo. All hopes were pinned (as they always are) on one of Leonardo’s inventions, this time a cannon. But as he prepares to fire, it is revealed that Da Vinci’s mother is stood next to the Ottoman Prince on the deck of the ship.
Ahead of the UK premiere of the show’s third season on FOX UK, TVWise recently spoke with lead actor Tom Riley to find out if Da Vinci will indeed fire on his own mother to prevent the Ottoman invasion, what season three has in store for Da Vinci and the rest of the characters, if there was room to produce a fourth season, how things were different under new showrunner John Shiban and much more.
WARNING – The following interview contains spoilers that some readers may wish to avoid.
TVWise: What can fans expect from season three?
Tom Riley: Well it’s going to be the end of the story which is probably the most exciting thing about it. We’ve spent quite a lot of time trying to make it so it feels like there’s a sense of closure, so you’ve had a full story with the first season, second season, third season; you know the three act structure. It ends in a way that won’t leave people hanging which we’re very pleased about. It’s certainly deeper, richer and smarter than anything we’ve done before and I think that is down to having a new showrunner [John Shiban], who came in and was completely objective. Once you’re in something you begin to lose an understanding of whether it’s working or what bits aren’t working and you can get too entrenched in it. So having an outside eye come in and go ‘Look this is what I think needs to be improved or changed’ has meant we’ve got the show we always wanted to make, which is pretty exciting.
TVWise: Each character has had a very distinctive arc so far, what’s in store for Leonardo in these final ten episodes?
Tom Riley: Basically everything that Leonardo has done for the first two seasons comes back to bit him in the ass. He’s realized that being as arrogant as he has been, misbehaving and not caring particularly about the consequences of his actions, has led to a trail of death, disaster and despair. His actions are going to ripple out and effect everyone else around him and he’ll leave a terrible trail of destruction in his wake. So he has to learn how to deal with that.
TVWise: Last season saw a change in the relationship between Leonardo and Riario, how does that spill over into the new season.
Tom Riley: That’s one of the most interesting relationships on the show I think, for both me and Black [Ritson], we love playing it. Riario also gets a fantastic arc this season that finishes everything off for him and their relationship is key to it because [Leonardo and Riario] have this grudging respect, they understand one another. They’re both from very similar backgrounds and they want similar things, they just go about it in very different ways. Their loyalty to one another in spite of each other’s actions gets tested this season, particularly in episode six, which is a big Riario and Da Vinci episode.
TVWise: When we left off, the Turkish invasion was moments away and in the closing seconds Da Vinci, who is about to fire on the fleet, realises it’s his mother on the deck of the battleship. How much of an impact does her appearance have on Da Vinci?
Tom Riley: Huge. His decision in that moment is what causes everything the follows. It’s a huge moment for him. He doesn’t quite know what he’s supposed to do and how to behave and everything he’s been looking for over the two seasons is suddenly there right in front of him and he has to make a huge choice, which he does make and it doesn’t necessarily work out well. I wont say what he does, but I will say that her presence has a gigantic impact.
TVWise: Does her appearance also lead to a change in the relationship between Da Vinci and his father?
Tom Riley: Very much so. Seeing her again will shake up a lot of things in his father and their relationship will change before the end.
TVWise: At the end of season two series creator David S. Goyer stepped down from the day-to-day and John Shiban joined as the new showrunner. Can you talk about that process and what if anything changed under the new leadership?
Tom Riley: It really did [change]. David was still pretty hands on. That’s a very David thing, he likes to step back and then the minute he sees that he’s being left out of it he’s “maybe I will have a little bit of fiddle”, so he was definitely involved in the edit and the post and all of that, but the day-to-day as you say was John. It was very interesting because he was very character driven, which we haven’t necessarily had before. So there was a lot of time spent on character stuff and working on the acting, bringing us all in individually to talk about characters, where he wanted it to go and how he wanted the plot to work out. That was quite nice, the feeling that were really delving into making it richer.
TVWise: A couple of months ago, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht revealed that this would be the final season. Did you know when you were filming that the show would end with season three?
Tom Riley: We had a vague idea, yeah. We kind of knew we were aiming towards an endgame with this season, because that’s always a sensible thing to do anyway in a third season. Then after we did know for sure, we came back and did some re-shoots to make sure that it was ending properly and in a way the audience deserved rather than leaving people hanging. So by the time we wrapped properly we knew it was pretty much done.
TVWise: Do you think there was room to produce a fourth season?
Tom Riley: There was always the chance that we could end up doing another season should a great idea come around. If there was something that made it feel like the story was worth continuing, we would have done it. But that never really reared its head, so we decided to end on a high rather than [to go on] flogging a dead horse.
Da Vinci’s Demons: The Final Season premiere on FOX UK on Sunday October 25th at 9pm.