Exclusive ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ Interview: Creator David S. Goyer Talks Introducing the Inca, The Importance of Lucrezia and More

DaVinci's Demons 2014

Two episodes in season 2 of Da Vinci’s Demons and it’s clear that the series is moving to a new and exciting direction. TV Equals recently got a chance to talk to the man behind the series, creator and executive producer David S. Goyer and ask him about this new season.

Goyer talked about the journey the characters go on, the introduction of the Inca and their culture clash with Da Vinci, the importance of Lucrezia, and more.

TV Equals: What can you tease about the new season?

David S. Goyer: It’s definitely bigger in scope, which I think you can attest to in the first two episodes. We’ve introduced a lot more characters. It’s darker. We ended the first season on a cliffhanger. Things were pretty dire, and The Vatican has kind of declared war on Florence. What we’ve sort of done with the characters is we’ve taken the cast and kind of thrown them up and reassembled them. The story kind of splits off into four different strands this season.

TV Equals: Can you talk about Da Vinci’s journey this season?

David S. Goyer: Well, in the first season we promised a physical journey. In the second episode of the first season, he sees this map that indicates what we know of as South America, which presumably hasn’t been discovered yet, at that point, by Europe. I had always said to Starz if you promise a journey, you can only stall for so long. So in season two, we really need to go on that journey. I think they were a little nervous because we were taking Da Vinci out of Italy and out of the format of the show. I just said, ‘Shows need to keep evolving,’ and I just didn’t want to do the same season over again and just have it still be a bunch of intrigue within Florence. I wanted the show to expand and continue and get more complicated, and so Starz was nervous at first, but then they got onboard and they’re really happy.

TV Equals: What were some of the challenges in moving out of Florence?

David S. Goyer: Trying to find Andean people in the UK, extras and whatnot. There aren’t a lot. It’s not a big population. We had to import quite a few. That was really difficult. There are not a lot of Peruvian and Colombian and Chilean in Wales.

TV Equals: Tom Riley mentioned there’s a clash of cultures between Da Vinci and the people of Peru.

David S. Goyer: Well, that was something that I was always interested in exploring in the show. It was these clashes of cultures and societies and how different they were. The Europeans might’ve perceived the Inca as barbarians, but in some ways the Inca perceived the Europeans as barbarians. They had a completely different cosmology, and I think that’s all very interesting and the kind of thing that Leonardo himself would’ve been fascinated with. I hope that if the show keeps going we get to do that with other cultures as well.

Tom Riley as Leonardo Da Vinci in DA VINCI'S DEMONS_800x533

TV Equals: Why did you decide on the Inca for this season?

David S. Goyer: I’ve always been fascinated by them, and so I just wanted to do something that would be bonkers. I wanted to do something that the audience would never expect, and that just seemed as extreme, the kind of polar opposite culture from renaissance era Florence as humanly possible. I thought that would be interesting, but also because in researching early versions of flight, there are these fascinating gold models that look like airplanes and spaceships that were found in the tombs in the Incan empire in that period. They really look like airplanes, and I just thought, ‘That’s really interesting.’

TV Equals: Does that play a part in the season?

David S. Goyer: Yeah, it does a little bit.

TV Equals: What about Lorenzo, what’s going on with him this season?

David S. Goyer: Well, Elliot [Cowan] is sort of the quiet storm on the show. He’s really amazing in this season. In the first season, he’s in control and he’s the person that Leonardo is trying to get to, but in the second season Florence is just up in flames. Historically what happened, and we’ll get to this fairly early in the season, is the Vatican made an alliance with Naples which had the largest standing army at the time. Florence didn’t have much in the way of an army, and so Lorenzo traveled to Naples to try to talk Naples out of their alliance with Rome. They took him prisoner. So that’s really different in terms of his character, and then the other thing that we couldn’t believe, but Alfonso who’s the prince of Naples, Alfonso’s wife was Lorenzo’s girlfriend before Clarice in real life. That’s really messed up when he gets there. So Alfonso who’s a new character that we introduce this season really doesn’t like Lorenzo.

TV Equals: Lucrezia also seems to be going on her own journey this season, right?

David S. Goyer: She is, and well, as I said, the show breaks into four story strands this season, and Lucrezia is the one that connects them all. She’s sort of the thread. She travels all over the place in this season and she’s kind of the one that threads everything together, and without giving too much away, she puts into plan, into action this crazy plan that culminates at the end of the season. So she’s directly responsible for this massive confrontation that happens at the end of the season.

TV Equals: Is she the most important character this season?

David S. Goyer: By the end of the season, yes, without question.

TV Equals: What about Riario?

David S. Goyer: Riario is a great character, and I thought it would be fun…I mean, he and Da Vinci are two sides of the same coin, and in some ways Riario, of all the other people in the show is the one that sort of most grasps how intelligent and sort of transformational Da Vinci is. So I just thought it would be fun when you’ve got two characters like that to throw them together and potentially force them to have to work together.

TV Equals: You have new characters this season. Can you talk about some of them?

David S. Goyer: Yeah, we have quite a few. We have Alfonso that I mentioned who’s sort of the prince of Naples. We have the king of Naples, his father, King Ferrante. We have […] the son of the Ottoman Sultan. We talked about the Ottoman’s in the first season, but we’ll start to meet them in the second season. We have Ima who’s the high priestess of the Inca. Topo Inco is the leader of the Inca. Amerigo Vespucci who’s the man that America is named after. He’s another cast member we’ve introduced.

TV Equals: When you’re writing a season, do you know where you want to go from the very start, or do you let stories influence you as you’re writing?

David S. Goyer: Both. I had a pretty clear plan. I wrote like a fifteen page document for the season, and we stuck pretty close to it, but you come up with some things as you go that you change. I would say it’s about eighty percent what we envisioned at the beginning.

TV Equals: Do you know where you want to go in season three?

David S. Goyer: Yes. Once you get to the end of this season, there’s definitely somewhat clear of an indication of where things might go in the third season.

Da Vinci's Demons Season 2 (2)

TV Equals: In the show, we see Da Vinci’s mind very clearly –

David S. Goyer: Yeah, we call that Da Vinci-vision in the scripts.

TV Equals: How do you come up with the things that he sees, the inventions?

David S. Goyer: I directed the first two episodes of the show, and that’s something that I developed when we were creating the show. We have his notebook pages, and I knew early on that I wanted to use his drawings as the sort of DNA of what we call the inner workings of his mind because those drawings are something that I think audiences think of when they think of Da Vinci. I just feel like that’s kind of the way…he sketched everything and that’s how his mind would’ve worked, but I also thought that it would be fun. All the sequences are actually hand animated. They’re not done with CG. So they’re done in the old fashioned way. They’re very time consuming, but I also think it gives us this real textural feel.

TV Equals: Are they based on his notebook?

David S. Goyer: Yes. In many cases, they are his drawings animated. It just depends.

TV Equals: What’s been the most surprising aspect of taking on this project and going on this journey?

David S. Goyer: Well, it’s funny just to be here now with eighteen episodes under our belt and having done two seasons and contemplating a third season. It’s been really gratifying to see some of the actors grow and change. I love the cast. It’s a joy. One of the joy’s of writing a second season is that you know all your actors. So the beginning when you’re writing it, you haven’t cast any of them. So you’re writing in a vacuum, but in season two, you know, ‘Well, this actor is really good at that and that guy -‘ and that’s really fun to be able to do, to write to someone’s strengths.

Da Vinci’s Demons airs on Saturdays at 9pm on Starz.

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