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British actor Tom Riley, best known for his role as Laurence Shepherd in ITV1’s Monroe, has been cast to play a young Leonardo Da Vinci in the upcoming eight episode Starz and BBC Worldwide Productions original series Da Vinci’s Demons.

The historical fantasy, written by David S Goyer who also penned the upcoming Man Of Steel movie and co-wrote Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, tells the untold story of the world’s greatest genius when he was 25 years old and his turbulent youth in Renaissance Florence as the brilliant and passionate artist, inventor, swordsman, lover, dreamer and idealist. As a free thinker, with intellect and talents that are almost superhuman, he struggles to live within the confines of his own reality and time. He begins to not only see the future, but invent it.

Goyer commented, “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. Tom came in and was able to effortlessly combine all of those elements. As soon as he finished his audition, we knew we’d found our man.”

Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director at Starz, said “Da Vinci is a near mythic figure in history that fascinates people to this day. It is quite an undertaking to bring to life a role that comes with so many pre-conceived notions. Tom showed us that there are many dimensions to this man yet to be explored, and, at the same time, make him believable, surprising and unique to a world-wide audience.”

Jane Tranter, Head of BBC Worldwide Productions, said, “Tom is a fabulously charismatic, intelligent and versatile actor. His audition displayed an unabashed energy that we are excited to see unleashed in his performance as a reimagined artistic genius in 15th century Florence!”

Riley is also known for his roles on stage, TV and film including the Lost In Austen series and film A Few Days In September and can be seen reprising his role in the second series of medical drama Monroe this year.

Doctor Who’s Julie Gardner is Executive Producer, along with BBC Worldwide Productions’ Head Jane Tranter.

Production of Da Vinci’s Demons is set to begin in summer 2012. Starz will premiere series in the U.S. in 2013. BBC Worldwide will distribute the series in international territories.

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