Hotly anticipated pan-European drama “Leonardo” bowed in Italy Tuesday (March 23) to stellar scores, scoring a greater than 28% prime time viewers share on pubcaster RAI’s flagship RAI-1 station and prompting plaudits from Italy’s Tradition Minister Dario Franceschini, in addition to an enormous sigh of aid from its creators, in response to showrunner Frank Spotnitz.
The lavish eight-part English-language retelling of the lifetime of Italian grasp Leonardo da Vinci, performed by Aidan Turner (“The Hobbit” franchise) is the first Italian manufacturing to obtain backing from pan-European co-production initiative The Alliance, created final 12 months by high European public service broadcasters. It’s a joint effort between RAI, France Télévisions, Germany’s ZDF, and Spain’s RTVE. Shot through the pandemic, the present can be co-produced and distributed worldwide by Sony Photos Tv.
“Leonardo,” directed by Dan Percival (“The Man within the Excessive Fort”) and Alexis Candy (“Don Matteo”), is produced by Italy’s Lux Vide and Rai Fiction with Spotnitz’s Massive Gentle Productions in affiliation with France Télévisions and RTVE.
Selection spoke to Spotnitz, producer Luca Bernabei and screenwriter Steve Thompson (“Sherlock”) concerning the challenges of bringing Leonardo to the display screen in a brand new means for world TV viewers.
Luca, I consider this was your brainchild. Are you pleased with the launch?
Sure, I’m. It’s not a easy present. It’s not a cop present, or about docs. It talks concerning the Renaissance: about artwork; mankind. It’s complicated. Even the script was not really easy. We labored arduous on it with Steve and Frank. We had like 100 hours of conferences. Amongst ourselves, and with our companions. We fought quite a bit. It was robust. However we didn’t take any quick cuts.
On the foundation there are two great concepts. One is the fashionable thriller [aspect], as a result of we weren’t taking with no consideration that individuals wished to look at one thing about Leonardo. And the opposite concept was having a muse, Caterina da Cremona [played by rising Italian star Matilda Bernadei from “The Undoing”], which impressed him and in addition served the aim of constructing the present accessible to a big viewers.
Steve, discuss to me about weaving within the thriller/thriller framework onto historic materials.
The thriller facet is definitely primarily based on fact. It isn’t an entire invention. After all various it’s fiction. However this character, the woman from Cremona, did exist. Leonardo refers to her in his writing. There are literally a few sketches of her which have survived. After we had been researching the present we stumbled on her title and upon these references to her. There’s a lovely reference very late in his life when Leonardo was touring round Italy. He wrote a word to his servants saying: ‘After I’m touring, these are the names of the folks I can be touring with.’ He listed 5 or 6 folks. A lot of the names, folks knew. However one in all them was an entire thriller. And he simply mentioned, ‘The girl from Cremona!’ Nothing else. So, initially, we all know that he was very near her; that she was essential to him. She was a mannequin; he painted her. However we additionally know that she has utterly vanished from historical past. And we don’t know why. That for us was a tantalizing thriller. One the place we wished to fill within the blanks. So, sure, it’s an invention. However one which has the seeds of fact in it!
Frank, did you are feeling added strain since this present is a milestone of types for European public tv?
Sure. Each Steve and I didn’t leap into this instantly. We had been each cautious of tackling the topic as a result of — as fascinating a personality as Leonardo da Vinci is — telling tales about artwork isn’t simple. As a result of the dramatic stakes of artwork should not apparent. You both succeed or fail at making an incredible piece. Additionally we wished to inform the story of Leonardo and give you perception; and never cut back or diminish him, or make it too easy. He was one of many biggest geniuses who ever lived. I believe the Caterina character was our means into his character. It gave you perception into his life and what it means. I believe when everyone will get to the top of those eight episodes they’ll see what we’re actually saying. I believe that whereas this isn’t by any means a documentary — it’s leisure — we actually labored very arduous to convey a whole lot of fact particularly to the artwork. To the tales of the artwork.
Whereas the Caterina storyline investigation is a fiction, there may be an terrible lot of actual analysis and arduous work that went into capturing the creation of the artwork and making you perceive why Leonardo was so nice. From a distance of 500 years generally it’s arduous to understand on the time what was so revolutionary about this man. That’s what we’ve actually tried to do, to place you again in that context.
And concerning The Alliance?
We predict The Alliance is a good concept. We love the streaming companies, however we predict it’s vital that conventional broadcasters stay vital and important and aggressive. And we felt a whole lot of strain to ship and make this profitable. So I’d be mendacity if I didn’t say I used to be massively relieved by the scores.
Luca, there may be a whole lot of discuss in Italy about Leonardo portrayed as homosexual and his “homosexual kiss” being a breakthrough for RAI.
We talked about this quite a bit, and we consider that this was a part of his life. So it was proper to signify it My private feeling was that I didn’t wish to pigeonhole Leonardo [with this aspect]. I didn’t wish to put him in a nook. Leonardo, as a personality, is bigger than his personal life. He belongs to world heritage. So in fact we had been representing that a part of this life. We had been additionally representing his relationship with Caterina da Cremona, who was his muse. We had been representing the complexity of his relationship together with his father; together with his purchasers and his maestro, Verrocchio. We had been representing a lot of relationships. We wished to make it clear [that he was gay] and in addition make the present accessible to everybody. We wished everybody to really feel the identical emotions that Leonardo was feeling. My concept of any character is that you’re with him. That, as an viewers, you embody that character; you’re keen on that character if the character is feeling one thing that you could really feel.
What are the subsequent steps within the ‘Leonardo’ rollout?
I hope we can quickly announce an vital sale to the U.S.; that can be as much as Sony [to do]. We simply introduced a sale [to Amazon] within the U.Ok. I believe it’s vital to notice that — I believe for the primary time — Sony got here on board not simply as a distributor however as a co-producer. Brendan Fitzgerald from Sony was an actual co-producer. He was engaged on the manufacturing with us. He was actually a part of the mission. Sony actually wished to be a part of this present; to be a part of its success. After we had issues with COVID, they helped us cowl the elevated finances; they stood by us. That is the key of constructing an vital present: all being companions collectively.