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Poldark star Aidan Turner on how to play Leonardo (hint: learn to paint with your left hand)

Aidan Turner courtesy PBS Communications

The star of the hit BBC TV historical yarn Poldark, Aidan Turner, has revealed how he mastered the part of Leonardo da Vinci in a recent eight-part series which premiered last month on Italian TV. In an interview with the UK newspaper, The Times, Turner describes how he got “into character” for the Leonardo TV epic, even opting to visit an artists’ boot camp before filming began. “I realised I had to get good quite quickly and look like I knew what I was doing with my left hand, which is more difficult than you would think. It’s keeping it steady—you find it just moves around a lot,” he said. Turner (naturally) waxes lyrical about the Renaissance genius. “I spent some time alone with the actual paintings, which was brilliant,” he says. “They’re just like high-definition photographs. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that a human had done this.”

The Italian TV series, which lands on Amazon Prime on 16 April, has come in for some stick, with some critics saying that Leonardo's on-screen muse, Caterina da Cremona, is fantasy (“a complete piece of tosh”, wrote Jonathan Jones in The Guardian). “We have been really careful in our research. But this is not a documentary, we are not historians and this is not a university history lecture,” said Luca Bernabei, the chief executive of Lux Vide who produced the series.