Lara Pulver on ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’

We talk to Pulver about her role on the Renaissance era adventure series and her memorable stint as Irene Adler on “Sherlock.”

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

 In “Da Vinci’s Demons” we only get to see glimpses of Clarice Orsini, so we were happy to have the chance to interview Lara Pulver to learn more about her character.

We knew Pulver best as Irene Adler in the BBC “Sherlock” series, and also from “True Blood” as the fairy Claudine Crane.

We spoke with Pulver about “Da Vinci’s Demons” when she joined her costars at the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this year, and we actually sat in the hotel’s tea room!

CraveOnline: Is Clarice a queen or a countess or a lady? What’s her official title?

Lara Pulver: She is royalty of Florence in a sense. She’s running Florence. They’re the heads of state of the Medici house.

Are we going to see her be very Machiavellian?

No, I wouldn’t say. I think she’s more truthful and honest than that. I think she is a lover of her family and what they stand for and for the people of Florence. So I wouldn’t say that she’s manipulative. I think she’s a clever business woman and a shrewd politician who’s intelligent and articulate.

Is she a benevolent ruler?

She’s a devoted wife. I wouldn’t even say she’s necessarily a ruler because everything she does it to empower her husband and her family.

I got the impression that we’re going to learn some more nefarious things about her. Am I on the right track or am I reading too much into things?

Definitely. She’s seen and not heard for quite a few episodes, and then the layers of the onion start to pull back. What’s so wonderful is one of the first major scenes that you see her in is in her private life. They’re very public figures and then you see behind the throne.

What then is the challenge of playing those early scenes so that viewers don’t catch on too quickly?

I think it’s just been staying present. It’s been having a focus and a generosity of spirit to know where the storytelling is at that time. And it’s also keeping that ambiguity of who this woman is, that you’re seeing this woman in all her glamour and her jewels and opulence, and yet you don’t know who this woman is.

Will she ever get her hands dirty?

Oh, I’m sure. By the end of the season, I think all of us have to get down and get in the mud.

Are you training for any big stuff that’s coming up?

The five leads have all been in training, physical fitness training and everything since we started the show. So we’re all much fit depending on what’s thrown at us.

So it’s likely you will be called upon for some fights or action?

I’m sure. Should we be fortunate enough for a second season, she’s in such a tricky situation that I think she’ll have to use everything within her power to survive.

What is the set of “Da Vinci’s Demons” like compared to “True Blood?”

Oh gosh, it couldn’t be more different. Our studios were an old Ford car lot that we as a production have renovated into the biggest sound studio in Europe. “True Blood” just lives in a different world. Even though Claudine and that whole fairy story was a bit psychedelic and a bit out there, it’s just a completely different genre of TV show.

How competitive was the audition for “Da Vinci’s Demons?”

I didn’t feel that. I was fortunate enough to meet David [S. Goyer] and work with David. I felt like I wanted to work with him whether it was on this project or another. He fortunately felt the same and we made it happen. We’re always putting ourselves out there every time we meet on a job and know there’s probably a million names going around for the same role but you can only do your thing and if it’s right for that particular project, great. And if it’s not, at least I can always walk away with my head held high that I did myself justice.

When you finally got on the set, how different or surprising was it compared to what you imagined reading the script?

The scale blew my mind. It’s epic. It’s huge. Our sets are enormous. We’ve got the real life dimensions of the Duomo, of all these different buildings and the city of Florence. We’ve got it there in the set. That whole element kind of blew my mind.

Was Clarice a real person in history?

She was indeed.

What did you find out about her?

Mainly her early marriage, very young. At the age of 18 she married Lorenzo Medici. It was an arranged marriage because they wanted him to marry someone of noble birth. It was controversial. Her family are from Rome, very much associated with the church and for a more free thinking city like Florence, she was a bit square in a sense and overly religious. So she wasn’t welcomed with open arms.

Did she look anything like you?

I don’t know.

You didn’t see any pictures?

No, I didn’t really look in that sense. I was more reading and then realized that David Goyer was the encyclopedia of the Renaissance man and kind of squeezed everything out of him as well.