Starz Casts British Actor Tom Riley to Play da Vinci in Drama 'Da Vinci's Demons'

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Tom Riley

Starz has found its da Vinci.

British actor Tom Riley has been cast to play a young Leonardo da Vinci in the network's upcoming original series, Da Vinci's Demons. 

The historical fantasy drama, a co-production with BBC Worldwide, follows what is being labeled the "untold" story of da Vinci during his turbulent youth in Renaissance Florence. 

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"Given that da Vinci was the model for the 'Renaissance Man,' these were incredibly large shoes to fill. Leonardo had to be smart, witty and incredibly confident --without coming across as arrogant. He also had to be tormented, because, as a true visionary and polymath, he was ostracized for his ideas as much as he was celebrated," said the series' scribe David S. Goyer. "As soon as [Tom] finished his audition, we knew we had found our man."

Added Starz managing director Carmi Zlotnik, "Tom showed us that there are many dimensions to this man yet to be explored, and, at the same time, make him believable, suprising and unique to a world-wide audience."

Riley, who is the first actor cast in the series, is well known in UK circles where he's a regular at London's Royal Court Theatre. His small screen credits include ITV's Monroe as well as Bouquet of Barbed Wire and Lost in Austen. On this side of the pond, he was nominated by the Drama Desk Awards for his performance as Septimus Hodge in Arcadia.

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The project, the first to enter production under the multi-year pact between Starz and BBC Worldwide Productions, is set to premiere with eight episodes in 2013. It will join a schedule that currently includes Boss, Spartacus and upcoming Magic City. BBC will distribute Da Vinci's Demons internationally.

Goyer, whose other works include Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, is already on board as the series' showrunner. Julie Gardner and BBC Worldwide Productions' head Jane Tranter are attached as executive producers.

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