“Poldark” star Aidan Turner will play Leonardo da Vinci in the new series by Frank Spotnitz that aims to provide an original take on the Renaissance genius. Each of the eight episodes of the show, which has the working title “Leonardo,” will center on one of his masterful achievements in various fields, not only including art.
The English-language series is planned for screening next year to mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death. To be directed by Dan Percival (“The Man in the High Castle”) and produced by Lux Vide (“Devils”), it’s expected to be the first project to hit the airwaves from The Alliance, the co-production group formed by continental Europe’s top pubcasters: Italy’s RAI, France Televisions and Germany’s ZDF. The broadcasters have banded together to counter streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon.
Casting of Turner (“The Hobbit”) was announced at Rome’s MIA market, where Percival said shooting on “Leonardo” will start in December and run through next spring. Lux Vide President Matilde Bernabei said that more A-list international cast members will soon be announced, as will a partnership with another “big international group” as a co-producer on “Leonardo.”
Spotnitz, who co-wrote “Leonardo” with British writer Steve Thompson and is producing alongside Lux via his Big Light Productions, previously collaborated with Percival on “The Man in the High Castle.”
In an interview with Variety during development of the show, Spotnitz said his and Thompson’s intention is “not just [to] say that Leonardo was a genius, but really show why he was a genius and have the audience understand what it was that made him so brilliant and radical and centuries ahead of this time….To do that, you need to get really close to his work.”
Other projects from The Alliance in various stages comprise “Mirage,” an espionage series set in Abu Dhabi, created by France’s Franck Philippon, and Italian mystery concept drama “Survivors,” centered on a sailboat and its crew, who disappear without a trace in the Mediterranean during a storm. “Survivors” is written by a young team of writers trained at RAI’s screenwriters’ school in Perugia, in Umbria.
“Leonardo” and “Survivors” are both being presented to international industry execs in Rome in MIA’s Greenlit section.