NYCC 2013: Da Vinci’s Demons Roundtable Interview #1

Interview with Da Vinci’s Demons Stars Blake Ritson, Gregg Chillin and Carolina Guerra

Q: So the second season seems to be very mystical, very fantasy, I’d say a lot more than last year.

Blake Ritson: I mean, it’s really, I think everything is bigger this year, really epic. It’s really ambitious. I think structurally, we kind of, it captures going in four different directions. I think it’s a new fun in terms of new alliances, catapulting characters you wouldn’t expect to co-exist together into these queasy alliances. So for example, one of the main thrusts of the series is the believers (not sure if he said believers, but that’s what I got), in terms of what you’re talking about, the mysticism. It’s this arcane compendium of forgotten knowledge which I and Leonardo believe could change the whole socio- political landscape of the world, so in the aftermath of the Pazzi conspiracy, we both think this is the answer. We both drive off across the Atlantic, racing across to the New World, to try to find the Book of Leaves, so as you said, one of the thrusts of the season is a possibly mythological, possibly real artifact… and yes, some interesting things happen. I mean, it’s really pushed to a breaking point. That’s another defining characteristic of the series, physically, mentally, spiritually, and I think with that, we get to glimpse into the dark recesses of the souls of a lot of characters, we get to pull in a lot of gaps that were hinted at in the first series. There’s a lot more information.

(I cannot understand this person’s question, they are way too far away from the microphone.)

Blake Ritson: I love it! This season for Riario, I’ve loved it. In the first season, it’s very much in his, he’s largely rather cool, calm, and collected, has all the support of the Vatican military, financial, political, and this season, he catapulted. He almost goes AWOL and he’s in the New World, way out of his comfort zone, and he’s pushed to a breaking point. We begin to see a new emotional rawness, a new ferocity, even an amorous side. Ah, we can’t talk, can’t say anything! Zip!

Q: I’ve heard so many comparisons of this show to Game of Thrones. Do you feel like you can steal some of the audience from Game of Thrones and bring them over?

Blake Ritson: Oh my God, well, I love Game of Thrones. It’s terrific. There’s always a market for big, epic, ambitious shows where you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and you know, structurally there’s a bit of Game of Thrones I think going on in terms of having different world co-exist and kind of flashing between them, but Da Vinci’s Demons is absolutely its own entity. It’s completely unique, and if the same people watch them both, terrific! A few people watch Game of Thrones, one or two.

Q: And the show leads you to believe that Da Vinci was insane-

Blake Ritson: No, I don’t think he’s insane. We were in Florence for the European premiere earlier this year, and we’re going around the Da Vinci museum, and the extent of his genius is unbelievable. The amount of things he’s created, I mean, that he wasn’t just one of the greatest inventors but an engineer, an architect, an artist. I mean, it’s extraordinary. You think someone that formidably talented must have so much pouring through their head. I was in Margate in Britain earlier this year. They had pages at the museum of his hieroglyph writing, and you see it’s just, you imagine writing backwards in an invented language, in a pictographic language, and you think, you can’t even imagine the kind of ferocity, that intelligence. So I don’t think it’s a madness, the idea of trying to harness that.

(Again, the person asking the question was too far away from the mic.)

Blake Ritson: We filmed last year in Swanzie. I can tell you that the weather in Peru is very similar. Loved it. (He talks with someone at the table about the weather for a few moments, really nothing worth transcribing.) We’re in the last lot at the moment, genuinely good weather.

Q: There were a lot of aspects to Da Vinci’s work that are distasteful. I learned about his autopsies and dissections, body exhibits of human bodies, and other things that he did. Is that going to become more of the series, or are they going to shy away from that?

Blake Ritson: No, I think as a series, it’s completely fearless and shies away from nothing. You know, it’s one of the similarities between Riario and Da Vinci, that they are in that pursuit of knowledge and in their pursuit generally of what they want in life, they are prepared to leave behind a trail of devastation behind them. There is a kind of collateral damage, but no, we definitely don’t shy away from that. There’s a lot of ugliness and a lot of damage and a lot of blood and visceral coming your way soon.

Q: Da Vinci obviously didn’t go to Peru as far as I know, so how does the, is there some truth and you’re an Incan priestess?

Carolina Guerra: Yes.

Q: How does an Incan priestess fit into the story?

Carolina Guerra: Well, I can’t reveal a lot. Well, they are looking for the Book of Leaves, and she is very aware of the threat that white men are to her people, so in order to protect her people, the Children of the Sun, that’s how they call the villagers. she wants to protect them, so she’s also looking for the Book of Leaves. They have like this relationship, I’m talking about all the characters, everyone who is going to Peru, so they kind of team up, but it’s like a hard relationship because they are a threat, but they want the same as well and they need their help to get there, so that’s gonna be the relationship to watch.

Blake Ritson: He’s got a slightly new look this year, Riario. He’s got a bit more kind of Japanese, inspired by the silhouette of 15th century samurai. Something to look out for.

Q: Does he wear the sunglasses?

Blake Ritson: Of course he wears the sunglasses. The Riario Bans, they’re back in town! Again, this is maybe a spoiler, but maybe he started a trend is all I’ll say.

(Can’t hear question)

Carolina Guerra: Well, this is amazing. It’s been the most amazing experience to me. It’s my first TV production outside my country, so I’ve done like movies, like international movies, but never like a production like this. I never thought my first would be in Europe. I thought it would be here in the U.S. It was mind-blowing, every single part of it, and they were all so nice.

Blake Ritson: We bullied her relentlessly for the first few weeks.

Carolina Guerra: And they were so supportive. I had so much stuff, you know, like in my head going on. English is not my first language, and then I had to learn Quechua and then I had to, you know, dress like Ima, and you know, it was so many things, but it all turned out really well and you know, like trying to grasp the responsibility that I had, the only Latin-American member of the cast.

Blake Ritson: Carolina did amazing. She had these epic, she’s underselling it, these epic Quechuan speeches, where she’s doing this kind of shivering way in night shoots.

Carolina Guerra: 5:30 AM, in a bikini. That’s all I’m going to say.

Blake Ritson: In Wales, I know. Yeah, and you felt it.

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