Da Vinci’s Demons kicks off season two on March 22, 2014, and in support of the new season I had the opportunity to chat with Laura Haddock about finding her way into Lucrezia and what we can expect from the upcoming season.
Exclusive Laura Haddock Interview:
Will we be finding out a lot more about Lucrezia Donati’s past this season?
Laura Haddock: “Yes. It was great, actually, to go back and find out who this girl was 10 years ago. I got to visit her when she was happy and light and free and ready to take on the world, falling in love and having her heart broken, and all those different things that you think about when you’re a teenager. Something happened and her life was changed forever. She couldn’t take it be back.
That was also very helpful because I got to play that out for real. I have a real emotional memory and physical, muscle memory of that moment in her life. It meant that going forward in season two, I could really draw upon what happened.”
Did you know in season one that this was going to take place? Did you know that eventually you would get to play that part out?
Laura Haddock: “David [S. Goyer] and I had chatted about where he wants to take her. I don’t know if it was this specific moment in her life that happens, but it was certainly in the same world and the same vein. Throughout season one I knew something that happened in her life had affected her in a huge way. We kind of kept talking about ideas about what that could be. David’s pretty much got 25 seasons mapped out. He’s like our bible.”
At least through season four.
Laura Haddock: [Laughing] “Yeah. He’s like our bible. We just go to him and say, ‘So, in episode five, season four, what happens…,’ and he’s got the answers. Even if it’s just an emotional state, he’s pretty clear on those things. When I read the script for season two, I felt satisfied with the decisions I’ve made about her in season one. I just couldn’t thank him enough, because it really helped me to understand her going into season two. I feel like, hopefully, the audience will understand this character a bit more as well.”
I have mixed emotions about her. Some days, I like her and some, I don’t.
Laura Haddock: “I know.”
Is it hard to play a character like this? Lucrezia’s not really a villain, obviously.
Laura Haddock: “She’s definitely not a villain. I think when I found out what happens to her and what she’s trying to achieve, I had huge pathos. I had huge pathos. Nobody should have to go through something in their life. Nobody should, and she did. She was very young. It happened and it changed her forever. It’s devastating. I don’t agree with everything that she does. I don’t think that you should go around taking people’s lives. But there was certainly a greater understanding of the pain she was feeling and why she was dealing with it in the way she was dealing with it.”
Also, David Goyer’s written these characters so that they all have flaws.
Laura Haddock: “Exactly. They’ve all got demons, I suppose, and they’re all trying to go on a journey to alleviate those demons or avenge something that happened to them or to somebody else in their life. It’s probably why they all come together, whether it be romantically or otherwise. They have something in common with each other.”
As an actress, was it refreshing to play her before all of this went on in her life?
Laura Haddock: “Yes, it was so great to go and see her before this happened. It was a real privilege, I think, to go back. When I was reading it, I was thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, am I going to be able to do this or will there be another actress coming in to do this?’ Thanks to a good make-up team and costume team, they managed to let it be me. That was pretty cool.”
Do you prefer knowing a few seasons ahead what’s going to happen or do you like to be kept in the dark like the audience and learning as you go along?
Laura Haddock: “I suppose, in real life, you don’t know what you’re going to be doing next week. It makes sense not to know. I think it’s just inquisitive actors, curious actors wanting to read the script. I suppose there’s method in not knowing too much. But then, there is also great method in knowing everything so that you can feel like you can prepare all the different things that you need to do to prepare for a storyline or a character.”
The costumes, make-up and the hair are so gorgeous in this. What’s that process like for you?
Laura Haddock: “I go on camera at about 8:00 in the morning and my make-up call is about 4am. No, only kidding. [Laughing] Only about 5am. I have to get up early, wigged up. But then again, I’ve worked with my make-up artist for a couple of years now. We like to gossip in the make-up truck. We don’t mind having as long as possible. We can have the make-up truck to ourselves and just put the world to right for a couple of hours before the boys come on. I love the hair and make-up and costume process. I think it’s really helpful. I think it really helps me get into character.
One thing I did with Lucrezia was, I realize I could not wear my perfume playing her. I wear quite a light, fruity perfume. I realized that she was definitely more dark and deep, and more somber than my light floaty one. I found this perfume by Comme des Garçons. It’s like incense-based. I almost wanted it to smell like a church, like when you go to confessions and you’re sitting in confession and you can smell all those smells the church has: incense, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, that kind of world. I found this perfume and I’d wear that every day for Lucrezia. That really helped me get into character.”
Have you ever done that for a character before? Have you ever figured out how they would smell and what perfume they’d wear?
Laura Haddock: “I’ve recently, since doing Da Vinci, I did a film just before Christmas. I did the same thing and bought this perfume for the character that I was playing in the film. It really helped. I realized that I’ve done it subconsciously. I’ve not worn my perfume in the morning when playing characters, but I’ve never found a perfume for the characters I’m playing before until Lucrezia.”
I’ve never talked to an actor who has changed their perfume based on a character before. That’s fascinating.
Laura Haddock: “Yeah, I wonder if it’s subconsciously what a lot of actresses do. I became conscious of it because someone said to me about the smell. That made me conscious of it. I knew in my head that I couldn’t wear my perfume playing Lucrezia because it reminded me too much of me.”
Your chemistry with Tom Riley is off-the-charts hot. Did you know when you first met him that you’d work well opposite each other and have good chemistry?
Laura Haddock: “No. You don’t think about things like that. I think I remember auditioning with him and thinking that he was a fantastic actor. I remember thinking in the audition room that it felt really nice to work with him, really great to work with him. I think Lucrezia and Leonardo have this electric energy that happens between the two of them. It made it exciting for Tom and I to go there with these characters.”
And speaking of chemistry, it appears Lucrezia won’t be settling down in a relationship for a while in the series.
Laura Haddock: “Probably not. I think it was fascinating for me to realize that Lucrezia was capable of loving somebody. In season one I feel like she genuinely fell for this man. I didn’t know and she didn’t know whether she was capable of feeling those feelings. I discovered that she was. That was a good discovery. I think in season two, they don’t come across each other that much, but she certainly holds him very close to her heart.”
So in season two everybody splits up and goes their own way?
Laura Haddock: “They’re on their own separate journeys, yeah.”
Is that a little sad because you’re not working with the same people you came to expect to be on set with during season one?
Laura Haddock: “Yeah, we definitely missed each other. I think there was a definite throe of excitement when we all got together on set again and were able to do scenes together. But I think it’s good not to have characters with each other all the time. Otherwise, the audience might just get a bit bored if the characters are with the same people all the time. I think it makes it more exciting when they come back together.”
Does David S. Goyer allow you a lot of input into Lucrezia?
Laura Haddock: “Yes. We talk all the time about where we think the character should be headed and if you feel like you’re missing anything, they’re very open to discussions and requests and ideas, yeah. It’s a very collaborative process. They’ve got a great big writers room and David’s at the helm. They churn out and produce some great storylines. Specifically when I read all the flashback stuff, I was shocked and thrilled with where they were taking Lucrezia. Yeah. I’m happy.”
Thinking back to your initial involvement with Da Vinci’s Demons, what was your reaction to the idea of doing a series based on a young Leonardo da Vinci?
Laura Haddock: “I was really excited by the idea. I was excited by the subject matter, I was excited by the time period, I was excited by my character. There were lots of things I was excited about. David Goyer being the creator of this show, there were lots of positive things about this project that eventually made me desperate to be part of it. I feel very lucky to be part…actually very lucky to be part of it.”
Did you go and do additional research on your own about the time period?
Laura Haddock: “Yeah, I looked into the Renaissance era. I looked into women living during those times. You know what? Lucrezia isn’t like any other woman living then. She’s just so unique. There’s not much about these women that I can, I don’t know, put into a box of, ‘Yes, that’s what women were like in the Renaissance Era.’
Also, men have feminine qualities and women have masculine qualities. More and more now in watching film and watching television, and realizing that the writers are being very generous with writing a person and writing a being, a human being with feelings and a heart. The distance between men and women now is just getting less and less, in terms of writers creating men and women. I like the fact that Lucrezia has masculine tendencies. I like the fact that Leonardo has feminine tendencies and qualities. It’s kind of interesting to me that there’s a blend of sexes and personality.”
What do you think is responsible for writers and directors making that switch? Can you point to anything in particular?
Laura Haddock: “I think a lot of the French writers and French directors were pretty amazing at writing for strong women. I think that there’s loads of women that I think are examples: I think Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, I think Charlize Theron in Monster, I think Angelina Jolie and pretty much any part she’s ever played has just absolutely smashed that difference between a good male part and a good female part.”
You go back and forth between film and TV. Do you see a difference in how the two mediums approach female characters or are they similar in how they’re writing women now?
Laura Haddock: “I think it’s the same. Recently, when you’re chatting with friends who’ve gotten projects or looking through the IMDB, you’re seeing directors that you know from film who are now directing television. Or, Harvey Weinstein is producing television shows or Ridley Scott is working on television. There’s just so many directors and producers and actors who do both. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson doing True Detective and they’re predominantly known for film. I think it’s really exciting. Now, there’s just this big movement of actors who were known to work predominantly in film and are now shooting television series and vice versa. I think there’s less of a line now, of a difference between the two worlds.”
This is such an unusual television series and it really pushes the envelope. What do you think it is that audiences are so fascinated by with Da Vinci’s Demons?
Laura Haddock: “I think you can say Leonardo da Vinci to pretty much anyone anywhere in the world, in any country. They will know who you’re talking about. They will all have their own relationship with that person and their own ideas who that person was. Then making him 25 years old when we first meet him makes him even more relatable, because everyone in the world is either going to be 25 or has been 25. They can relate with this person. He’s real. He was a curious, excited, tortured, passionate person. Everyone can relate to something or other about this guy. He was a really, really forward-thinking, exciting, inquisitive, guy. That, I think, is what people are interested in.
He’s ready to change the world. Even if you’re back at home and you think, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready to change the world,’ I think you’d be pretty excited by watching someone who was.”
-Posted by Rebecca Murray
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