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It’s been said that the modern world would not exist as it does if not for Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance artist who has been charged throughout history with inventing the future. This month, Starz and filmmaker David S. Goyer launch Da Vinci’s Demons, a lavish, sexy, action-packed and addictive series peeling back the Italian genius’ layers, allegiances and inspirations.

“It may not be the da Vinci you read in your school textbook,” says British actor Tom Riley (above), who plays the title role, “but it’s far more historically accurate than you might expect.” Riley tells us three things audiences may be surprised to learn about the original Renaissance man.

HE MAY HAVE HAD A SOCIAL DISORDER.
“How da Vinci behaved back then would be recognized now as symptoms of a social disorder. What we see today as ADHD or Asperger’s [syndrome] — all those things may very well have been a part of who he was, but without diagnosis or treatment.”

HE WAS QUITE THE SWORDSMAN.
“In our show, you might be surprised to see how good da Vinci is at sword fighting, and that’s based on the fact that he’s ambidextrous. He was capable of fighting with two hands, which is something, as an actor, I had to work very hard on.”

HE WAS A LOVER TOO.
“He was a passionate man with a passion for the human body and a zest for life and a zeal for understanding everything, so he was quite accomplished in the boudoir. That said, the one thing that eludes Leonardo in our series is true love and genuinely connecting with people. He finds love impossible to quantify, which is actually quite tragic.”