Da Vinci's Demons (TV Series 2013–2015)


Da Vinci's Demons (TV Series 2013–2015)

Written by David S. Goyer, the series follows the "untold" story of Leonardo Da Vinci: the genius during his early years in Renaissance Florence. As a 25-year old artist, inventor, swordsman, lover, dreamer and idealist, he struggles to live within the confines of his own reality and time as he begins to not only see the future, but invent it.
IMDb  8.0 /10
Metacritic   63%
Creator David S. Goyer
Release Date2013-04-12
GenreAdventure, Biography, Drama, Fantasy, History, Mystery, Romance
Content RatingTV-MA (TV-MA)
AwardsWon 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 3 wins & 14 nominations.
CompanyBBC Worldwide Productions, Phantom Four Films
Leonardo Da Vinci 28 episodes, 2013-2015
Zoroaster 27 episodes, 2013-2015
Nico 27 episodes, 2013-2015
Lucrezia Donati 26 episodes, 2013-2015
Girolamo Riario 26 episodes, 2013-2015
Lorenzo Medici 25 episodes, 2013-2015
Vanessa 25 episodes, 2013-2015
Pope Sixtus IV 24 episodes, 2013-2015
Clarice Orsini 19 episodes, 2013-2015
Piero da Vinci 19 episodes, 2013-2015
Captain Dragonetti 17 episodes, 2013-2015
Al-Rahim 13 episodes, 2013-2015

Da Vinci's Demons

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

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. The series was renewed for a third season, which premiered on 24 October 2015. On 23 July 2015, Starz announced that the third season would be the show's last. However, Goyer has left it open for a miniseries return.


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


  • Tom Riley as Leonardo da Vinci
  • Laura Haddock as Lucrezia Donati
  • Blake Ritson as Count Girolamo Riario
  • Elliot Cowan as Lorenzo de' Medici
  • Lara Pulver as Clarice Orsini
  • James Faulkner as Pope Sixtus IV – Francesco & Alessandro della Rovere (recurring season 1; main seasons 2–3)
  • Gregg Chillin as Zoroaster da Peretola (recurring seasons 1–2; main season 3)


  • Hera Hilmar as Vanessa Moschella, outspoken Florentine barmaid and occasional model for Leonardo
  • Eros Vlahos as Niccolò Machiavelli, apprentice to Leonardo
  • David Schofield as Piero da Vinci, notary to Lorenzo and father to Leonardo
  • Alexander Siddig as Aslan Al-Rahim, "The Turk"
  • Tom Bateman as Giuliano de' Medici, brother to Lorenzo (seasons 1–2)
  • Allan Corduner as Andrea Verrocchio (seasons 1–2)
  • Michael Elwyn as Gentile Becchi (season 1)
  • Michael Culkin as Jacopo Pazzi (seasons 1–2)
  • Nick Dunning as Cardinal Lupo Mercuri, Curator of the Vatican Secret Archives
  • Elliot Levey as Francesco de' Pazzi (seasons 1–2)
  • Paul Rhys as Vlad Tepes (seasons 1, 3)
  • Shaun Parkes as Solomon Ogbai, "The Abyssinian" (seasons 1–2)
  • Vincent Riotta as Duke Federico da Montefeltro (seasons 1–2)
  • Estella Daniels as Zita (supporting season 1; principal season 2)
  • Carolina Guerra as Ima, High Priestess of the Children of the Sun (season 2)
  • Ian Pirie as Captain Nazzareno Dragonetti (supporting season 1; principal seasons 2–3)
  • Raoul Trujillo as the Sapa Inca (season 2)
  • Kieran Bew as Alfonso, Duke of Calabria (seasons 2–3)
  • Lee Boardman as Amerigo Vespucci (season 2)
  • Matthew Marsh as Ferdinand I of Naples (season 2)
  • Ray Fearon as Carlo de' Medici, illegitimate son of Cosimo de' Medici, "The Magician" (seasons 2–3)
  • Richard Sammel as Hartweg (season 2)
  • Jeany Spark as Ippolita Maria Sforza, Duchess of Calabria (season 2)
  • Sasha Behar as The Seer / Caterina, Leonardo's mother (supporting season 2; principal season 3)
  • Akin Gazi as Bayezid II (supporting season 2; principal season 3)
  • Simone Lahbib as Laura Cereta (season 3)
  • Paul Freeman as The Architect / Asterion (season 3)
  • Jude Wright as Andrea da Vinci (dream-sequence) (season 3)
  • Dafydd Emyr as Captain of the Labyrinth (dream-sequence) (season 3)
  • Sabrina Bartlett as Sophia (season 3)

Guest and cameo

  • Ross O'Hennessy as Commander Quattrone (seasons 1–2)
  • Paul Westwood as Niccoló Ardinghelli (season 1)
  • Faye Johnson as Camilla Pazzi (season 1)
  • Abbie Hirst as Allegra Pazzi (season 1)
  • David Sturzaker as Bernardo Baroncelli (season 1)
  • Simon Armstrong as Scarpa (season 1)
  • Hugh Bonneville as Galeazzo Maria Sforza (cameo season 1)
  • Tom Wu as Quon Shan (season 2)
  • Ieuan Rhys as Councilman De'Rossi (season 3)
  • Simon Winkler as Golo (cameo season 1)


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. They later reported that Laura Haddock had been cast in the female lead as Lucrezia Donati.


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. 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. Julian Court and Jamie Payne were hired as cinematographers who worked interchangeably with the different directors.

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. Annie Symons was brought on board as the lead costume designer. Bear McCreary composed the score for the series, and orchestrated the main theme to reflect Leonardo's use of mirror writing. Goyer had a scene in episode five depicting a kiss between Leonardo and Jacopo Saltarelli filmed in secret as he feared network interference.

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.

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. Riley cited that because the speculation exists it is something that should be honoured. His possible sexual interest in men is addressed in detail in episode five of season one when he is tried for sodomy. Leonardo describes his sexual relationship with men as a curiosity, as he states "No one defines me."

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.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
18April 12, 2013June 7, 2013
210March 22, 2014May 31, 2014
310October 24, 2015December 26, 2015


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." It also holds a Metacritic score of 62 out of 100, based on 27 critics reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

Season 2 has also been received well. It holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 6 critics reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. Furthermore, it holds a Metacritic score of 69 out of 100, based on 4 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."


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.

Lead actor Tom Riley won best actor for his role as Leonardo da Vinci at the 2014 Bafta Cymru awards, where the show was also nominated for best production design and best costume design.

In Australia, Da Vinci's Demons was rated MA 15+, whereas in New Zealand, it was rated R18 for graphic violence, offensive language and sex scenes.

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


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