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As the series begins broadcast on FOX TV in Africa and South Africa tonight, interviews from the Florence press conference have been posted online. David S. Goyer shared some very kind words about Tom's casting at the conference.

I know he isn’t Mediterranean-looking. I thought he embodied all of the conflicting aspects of Leonardo the most. I mean, Leonardo is known for being very witty and funny and he also had a lot of darkness in him. Tom seemed to have it all.

Read the full transcript on the IOL website.

TOM RILEY Leonardo da Vinci - a demanding role, this certainly is. But Riley welcomes the challenge.

The British actor is known for his stage work and a few TV and film credits. But Da Vinci’s Demons is his breakthrough role. Looking fresh in blue denim jeans and a shirt, Riley is nothing like his character and the spiralling darkness that consumes him.

A comment about him being a sex symbol gets me a smile. “I wouldn’t say I’m a sex symbol in Britain,” he laughs. “I started acting quite late. I got into drama school and by the time I started I was about 25 or 26. I have done predominantly film, TV and stage and a few things in America. But nothing quite like this.”

This series introduces viewers to a conflicted 25-year-old Da Vinci. At the same time, he is filled with theories and invents things beyond his time. He defies authority. In fact, he abhors it. While he has a tendency to be withdrawn, he can also be charming. And he manages to wheedle his way into the The House of Medici. His sexuality is also explored in the series, as is his affair with Lucrezia Donati (the mistress of Lorenzo Medici).

Of the sex scenes Riley says: “There is nothing comfortable about those scenes. You are naked in a room that is very cold. With, in our case, a camera man – breathing very deeply. So it doesn’t lend itself to the sexiest feelings in the world. But you get on it with it. “Laura (Haddock) – who bears an uncanny resemblance to Angelina Jolie – and I knew we had to be very physical with each other a lot of the time. Four months before we started shooting, we spent a lot of time together.”

Now he plays a youthful version of the old and bearded historical figure we know. He continues: “He got to that stage because he had once been a young man. The story is just the other way around. I thought his journey was the most beautiful thing. He has this brain, but he isn’t wise yet.”

Shedding more light on his character, Riley offers: “He can’t sit still. His mind is constantly flitting – an almost Attention Deficit Disorder. There is a borderline autism in that he is socially inept and, at the same time, he can be charming enough to wangle his way through things we know he did. “His personality was a mass of contradictions. Who he was, what he did… was extraordinary. “He is quite anarchic. In his case we should probably have respect for what a dangerous line he walked to do what he did. Despite being illegitimate, despite having no formal education, he refused to let it limit him.”

There might be mixed sentiments about Riley in the role, but he is sexy, compelling and entertaining. And the scenes in which his character is besieged by his thoughts and quest for perfection, confirm why he was chosen for this role.

“I love the scene towards the end of the first episode where Leonardo says: ‘Anything that can be dreamt of, can be’. “We wanted to make an adventure based in this historical world. So a renaissance kind of adventure,” he reveals.

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