Da Vinci's Demons Actor Tom Riley: Leonardo Was 'Kind Of A Rock Star'

Starz's 'Da Vinci's Demons' -- Starz

"Da Vinci's Demons," the brand new drama from Starz and David S. Goyer, introduces the world to a new look at one of the most famous figures in history - Leonardo Da Vinci.

"To the majority of the public, Leonardo Da Vinci is a sort of old man with a beard, sat in his attic drawing paintings," British actor Tom Riley, who brings the 25-year-old Leonardo to life, told AccessHollywood.com . "But actually, David did a whole load of research about what he was like, and he was kind of a rock star at the time."

WATCH IT NOW: Tom Riley Talks Taking On A Young Leonardo In 'Da Vinci's Demons'

The series, from Goyer, who helped Christopher Nolan reimagine Batman, and also penned the screenplay for the upcoming reimagination of Superman - "Man of Steel" - begins "Da Vinci's Demons" by showing Leonardo as a fit, creative young man, with a wild, almost uncontrollable imagination.

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He's also got a little gang of friends that kick off his journey with him.

"He's got a crew, he's got a posse... [There's] Zoroaster [played by Gregg Chillin] who's linked to the Renaissance underworld. He's a card player and a card shark. And a sort of slightly dangerous character," Riley told Access .

Also on board is Eros Vlahos, who exited Arya Stark's "Game of Thrones" Season 2 story line after he was injured fleeing to The Wall.

"He was killed in 'Game of Thrones' and that was fortunate [for us] so we got to bring him over... He was speared so we took the spear out and cleaned him up and he's playing Nico," Riley continued of the character who Goyer said will grow up to become Machiavelli.

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While the show will feature some historical figures and moments, much of the drama comes from the imagination of Goyer, the show's creator, writer and an executive producer.

"One of the things that's great when you're dealing with a historical figure is when there are sort of dark spots," Goyer told Access . "He created over 13,000 notebook pages and at the time of his death, 7,000 went missing - and they've never been found... Part of the fun and the conceit of the show is - well, what happened in the pages that went missing... Not much is known about where he was or what he was doing at this time."

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As with other Renaissance-set dramas like Showtime's "The Borgias" (which returns this Sunday at 10 PM across the dial), the Catholic church figures in heavily. In "Da Vinci's Demons," it comes courtesy of the frightening Giralamo Riaro, a Count and Captain of the papal army, played by British actor Blake Ritson.

"[David] was always saying, 'He's not the villain, he's the primary antagonist.'... Riario, in his own head, basically he thinks he's the hero of the piece," Ritson told Access of his character.

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"He's almost like a religiously motivated terrorist. I think this is what makes him unbelievably terrifying," Blake said of Riario, a role he brings a strong intensity to. "He can justify anything... he's completely remorseless, merciless. He considers himself this kind of crusader, soldier of God and that kind of fortitude is terrifying."

"Da Vinci's Demons" premieres tonight at 10 PM on Starz, following the series finale of "Spartacus: War of the Damned."

-- Jolie Lash

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