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Antonio Banderas to Star as Pablo Picasso in ‘Genius’ Season 2 at Nat Geo

Antonio Banderas has signed on to star as Pablo Picasso in National Geographic’s “Genius” Season 2, Variety has learned.

The artistic career of Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Crispín Crispiniano María Remedios de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso spanned more than 80 years. His work challenged and reinvented the world’s perceptions of art and creativity. The prolific artist generated an estimated 50,000 works, among the most notable being “The Old Guitarist” from his Blue Period, now on display at the Art Institute of Chicago; “Guernica,” inspired by the Nazi bombing of a small Spanish town of the same name, recently displayed at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid; and “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon,” now on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

In addition, the artist’s personal life was equally intriguing. He lived most of his life in Paris during the first half of the 20th century and crossed paths with writers and artists including Coco Chanel, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Gertrude Stein, Georges Braque and Jean Cocteau.

Banderas was attached to play Picasso in the film “33 Días” back in 2012, though the film failed to come to fruition. He is a film star both in the United States and his native Spain. Among his more notable English-language roles, he has collaborated with Robert Rodirguez on the “Spy Kids” franchise, “Machete Kills,” as well as “Deperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico.” He also played the title role in “The Mask of Zorro” and its sequel, and lent his voice to the character Puss in Boots for the “Shrek” franchise.

He is repped by Paradigm.

“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 Málaga,” Banderas said. “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.”

Showrunner, executive producer and writer Ken Biller will continue his role overseeing the new season. The second season will also once again hail from Fox 21 Television Studios; Imagine Television with executive producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard along with executive producer Francie Calfo and producer Anna Culp; and Madison Wells Media’s OddLot Entertainment, with executive producers Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane. Sam Sokolow and Jeff Cooney from EUE/Sokolow are also executive producers. Filming is expected to begin later this fall for a 2018 premiere on National Geographic Channel.

“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.”

The first season of “Genius”, which starred Geoffrey Rush as Einstein, was recently nominated for 10 Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series and more, marking a network record. It also became the network’s best performing new series launch in network history, watched by over 45 million viewers globally.

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