8:55am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Antonio Banderas to Play Picasso in 'Genius' Season 2 for Nat Geo
Antonio Banderas is heading to the small screen.
The Evita and Mask of Zorro star has been tapped to topline the second season of National Geographic scripted anthology Genius. Banderas will make his series regular TV debut in the drama and play the leading role of Pablo Picasso.
Production on the 10-episode second season of Genius begins in the fall for a 2018 bow. The sophomore season will chronicle the life and work of the Spanish painter, one of the 20th century's most influential and celebrated artists.
Season two will continue to be exec produced by Fox 21 Television Studios, Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer and Ron Howard and Madison Wells Media's OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow. Ken Biller returns as showrunner and exec produces alongside Francie Calfo and Gigi Pritzker.
"The life story of Pablo Picasso has long since fascinated me and I have so much respect for this man, who also comes from my birthplace Malaga,” said Banderas. “I am thrilled to work with National Geographic, Brian, Ron, Ken and the rest of the Genius team to tell an authentic story of one of the most innovative painters in the world.”
The news comes as Genius is up for 10 Emmys, including best limited series and best actor in the category for star Geoffrey Rush (who portrayed Albert Einstein).
"Antonio was the natural choice. He, like Picasso, has a no-holds-barred approach to life that will add to the genuineness that we’re looking for,” Howard said. “He has such tremendous range as an actor, who I know will bring this brilliant and unconventional artist to life.”
Added Nat Geo executive vp and head of global scripted Carolyn Bernstein: “Not only are they both from Malaga, Spain, but also similar to Picasso, Antonio exudes charisma and passion, and has challenged boundaries with his creative artistry. He checks all the boxes for us and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him lead the series.”
Banderas, who was slated to make his TV series regular debut with Starz drama Havana (which remains in development), is no stranger to portraying historical figures having done so for HBO's And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself and in Evita. He's repped by Paradigm.
"From Pancho Villa to Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Antonio has had such a successful track record in portraying real-life, larger-than-life iconic figures with such honesty and depth. And with Picasso, I’m looking forward to seeing his interpretation of the man behind the artistic greatness,” Grazer added.