Aidan Turner says he was “intimidated” by the challenge of showing Leonardo da Vinci as a man, rather than the artist behind numerous great works.
The Poldark actor, 37, stars as the Renaissance painter in an Amazon Prime series depicting his life and works, but admitted to initially struggling with how to characterise him on screen.
Appearing on the programme’s official podcast, Turner recalled visiting a da Vinci retrospective at the Louvre museum in Paris with his wife Caitlin Fitzgerald shortly before filming began.
However, he said the hour-long viewing prompted more questions.
Turner said: “Going walking around the Louvre, and just in awe of all of this spectacle, and being the only people there, and quite literally sitting with his paintings for minutes on end and going, ‘How the hell am I going to do this?’
“Like, if I can’t even understand how he did these paintings, how are you going to get into who the man was? And that’s essentially what we want to do with this show.
“We know the great works, but we want to get into who this man was – what’s in his heart, what’s in his mind?
“So, that was hard for me, and it was really intimidating. Like, in some world, you would think it would help being there, and it was great, but it made things almost more difficult.
“Because you think, ‘I don’t know if I can understand this’. I love expressing myself though painting and on canvases, and it’s good craic. But this, it’s a totally different world.”
Turner learnt to paint with his left hand like da Vinci, but quipped that his own works did not live up to the originals.
He said: “If I showed you some of the paintings in the room right now that I was painting today, you would be fully convinced that I can definitely not paint like Leonardo da Vinci.”
The eight-part series, which is available on Amazon, explores what made the Renaissance painter, architect and inventor famous.
It also features Giancarlo Giannini as Leonardo’s master, Andrea del Verrocchio, and The Undoing star Matilda De Angelis as his muse, Caterina of Cremona.
– Leonardo: The Official Podcast is available on all major podcast providers.