The Sunday Post (Inverness)
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Nearly two years after the much-adored historical series Poldark came to an end, Aidan Turner is finally back on our screens. And the Irishman, 37, admits he did question whether he should take on Leonardo – another period drama – as his next project. But a mysterious and passionate retelling of the life of one of history’s greatest artists was a project he just couldn’t turn down.
“Maybe I need to wear a pair of jeans and shave my head for the next role,” he laughs. “In a way, if it wasn’t Leonardo da Vinci, I probably wouldn’t.”
An eight-part series launching on Amazon Prime Video, Leonardo explores what made the Renaissance painter, architect and inventor famous. Each episode focuses on a different Da Vinci painting and reveals the story behind it.
The story often focuses on Da Vinci’s very unorthodox upbringing with his grandparents and explores his sexuality.
Starring alongside Turner as Leonardo’s “muse” Caterina da Cremona is Matilda De Angelis, who many will recognise from one of the biggest TV events of last year, HBO series The Undoing. Turner visited the Louvre Museum in Paris and had a private viewing of da Vinci’s work, which includes the iconic Mona Lisa. He said: “i got to spend a couple of hours with his paintings on my own and it was extraordinary. I mean, there are so many things that strike you. One is just the physicality of it; we’re so used to seeing his paintings on the screen, on an ipad, in an encyclopaedia, in a magazine, newspaper, television. You see them up close, its scale... some of them are huge!
“Then you get close and you think, ‘How kind has 400, 500 years been to these paintings? ’and it seems incredibly so. The detail... they’re like high-definition photographs.”
Turner also watched real-life painters replicating da Vinci’s work. So, just how good is Turner with a paintbrush?
“I don’t know if ‘good’ is the right thing; I’m brave,” he says, laughing. “Leonardo worked very slow, because his work was very precise work, obviously. So, as an actor on set, you can’t make any huge mistakes, when you’re working a very fine brush and you’re applying a small amount of paint.”
He has played a painter before – Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Desperate Romantics. But while on that production, he would use a varnish over the paint, to allow for mistakes, it was different for Leonardo. “We were quite authentic; we would use pigments and apply the paint. So, yeah – no room for error!”
Leonardo launches on Amazon Prime Video on Friday