Da Vinci’s Demons is a show full of adventure, interesting characters, big explosions and surprises with an utterly lovely, talented cast. Unfortunately, the show got cancelled this year, but we’re still up for a good treat when season 3 airs in full in October all around the globe. We, lucky we, got to interview (and party with!) some of the cast in Helsinki, Finland.
We have to start this story by saying: no-one interesting ever comes to Finland. Well, at least not the Fangirl Quest level interesting, meaning the stars and creators of our favourite drama and sci-fi films and shows.
So you can imagine our excitement when we got invited to Fox Finland’s fall party and heard that the Da Vinci’s Demons stars Tom Riley, Eros Vlahos and Gregg Chillin were attending as well. We rsvp’d within seconds and also set up an interview date with the guys for the morning after the party.
On the day before the party we spotted Tom’s tweet from Helsinki airport and immediately put our real lives on pause. And because we’re clever, and great at what we do (which is fangirling, obviously), our paths soon crossed with the guys. We were a bit nervous saying hi, but he recognized us immediately and we had a lovely quick chat and got to welcome the guys to Finland.
The party next evening was a great one! Fox’s reality show stars, drinks, food, dancing and very Finnish experiences for the Da Vinci guys: as for any guest of honour visiting this country, we brought them each a bottle of Salmiakkikossu (a black, salty and sweet 40% liquor). On top of that, Eros got his chest hair waxed and Gregg got a very up-and-close serenade from (any Finn will know this name) Meiju Suvas on the dance floor. As you do.
The night consisted of fun photo booth moments, a snake show, video selfies with the guys and dancing to Darude’s beats.
Next morning we headed to our interview date with Tom and Eros slightly tired and smelling of a good party (that’s a nice way of saying “hungover”). We met in a lovely hotel room with the most beautiful light, so we managed to snap a couple of photos while chatting.
As we were aware of Eros’ painful situation of having had his chest waxed the previous night, we went bearing gifts: a tube of Aloe lotion. We got a very surprised and enthusiastic ‘thank you’ for it, and Tom seemed still confused about the whole thing.
Tom: Why did you do it?
Eros: I don’t know. I didn’t realize it would be like, EXCRUCIATING and that I’d still be in pain the next day…
We talk about the previous night’s events and it sounds like they’ve had a genuinely fun time.
Eros: Let’s just say that the lovely gift that these girls gave Greg…
Eros: No, alcohol, that little bottle of Finnish alcohol.
We explain the concept of Salmiakki Koskenkorva to Tom and then hand them one new bottle each. Eros looks happy.
Eros: This thing…!
Tom: Will this knock you out?
Eros: It’s delicious!
With no hesitation whatsoever, Tom opens the bottle and takes a sip.
Eros: Isn’t that good?
Tom: That’s incredible. I’m glad I didn’t have this last night.
Eros: We loved it! The bottle didn’t last very long…
Tom: This is gonna get me through – how many hours of interviews have I got today?
Let’s start with the obvious. How are you doing, how is Finland?
Eros: Finland is great fun.
Tom: We’ve had a great time, it’s a place where we never think we would’ve come I suppose. So when we got the opportunity, we just thought “let’s go and have a look!”
Eros: It’s been so lovely, everybody’s amazingly nice. Helsinki is awesome.
What can you tell us about season 3, then?
Eros: So, in the final episode… [laughs]
Tom: It’s easily the best season yet and I know that feels like something that we’re supposed to say, but it’s true. We worked really hard on it and it feels like it’s finally the show that we wanted it to be from the beginning. It’s grounded and there’s lots of character stuff. Everything Leo’s done for two years kind of comes back to haunt him, and they deal with the fall-out of the fact that he’s such an arrogant prick. He hasn’t really thought about the danger of his inventions and his work, and suddenly it’s going to come back and smack him in the face. Including this handsome dog… [points at Eros]
Eros: Yeah, I think the dynamic of it is just really interesting. It’s completely different from the other two series, but in a really great way. And I think Tom is right: even though we still have that amazing adventure side of it, with action sequences and battles, it’s also so much more about the characters. It’s not radically different, it’s still the Da Vinci’s Demons people know and love, but it’s a new version of it. I think it’s really nice.
Tom: It starts with a bang. I showed my dad the first episode and at the end of it he said “I didn’t breathe. For the last 20 minutes, I didn’t breathe!”
In the middle of discussing the show, Eros digs up some photos they took in Fox’s party photo booth the previous night.
Eros: Sorry to interrupt. But look, this is the funniest picture ever, right? We all got in this photo booth and this one guy, look at that… [laughs at someone’s face being blocked by the Fox logo in the photo]. When I saw it, I was WEEPING. The guy was like, just be careful, there’s a fox coming in!
Tom: Oh my god, you look so drunk… Your vodka did this! [Points a blaming finger at us and we put on our best innocent face.]
Eros is still going on about the guy behind the Fox logo. Tom continues with his own photo booth experiences.
Tom: Lizzy [Caplan] and I got one too, and the guy who ran the booth was like “I have to have a photo with you” and he just basically pushed us to one side!
Eros is still looking at his photos and how they had to take about a dozen so everyone got a chance to pose with them. Tom asks if they stayed at the party all night, Eros admits they stayed for a few hours after Tom left. We fill Tom in about everyone dancing to Darude and taking selfies with him.
Eros: That DJ was hilariously good! And his song “Sandstorm”, I remember it from my parents playing it! I think we got some pictures with us and him as well…
Tom also asks about the lady who was singing to them (face to face!) and we explain all about Finnhits and Meiju Suvas, while desperately trying to get the interview back on track.
Now that you’re done with Da Vinci’s Demons, which is sad, what are you gonna miss the most?
Eros: [points at Tom] THIS GUY!
Tom: God, there’s so much… I think it shows, but we like each other a lot. It’s the nicest cast. Also, you’ve been to the set so you know this… There’s something crazy about the size and the scale of what we were doing in that tiny factory. Well, huge factory. You don’t get to do that very often in your career anywhere in the world, let alone in the UK.
Eros: We almost had our own playground there to do whatever we wanted to do. And that is rare, because normally if you’re shooting something in a studio, you’re in a place you share with loads of other people. You don’t know everyone who’s walking around and you just sort of go to and from your set back to your trailer. But the Demons set was literally our own town and you knew everyone there, because they were all part of the same thing. It was great from that point of view.
So you felt sort of safe on set?
Eros: Yeah, exactly… Well actually, it didn’t always feel safe. [To Tom] You know the car park with the little tiny fence around it?
Tom mutters in agreement and we feel like we’re missing an inside joke here.
Tom: Just walking around those kind of labyrinthian sets, it was amazing.
What are you going to miss the least?
Tom: The weather.
Both: Gregg! [Both giggle.]
Tom: The weather, the hours, how hard it is. We had real “come to Jesus” moments in those interviews yesterday, because we suddenly realized how cathartic it was to talk about the fact that it was done. And how it kind of changed us all a little bit, working that hard for that long. I mean, an hour-long drama is the hardest gig in the world for an actor, harder than film, harder than comedy. The hours… you lose everything else in your life, it just goes. So we’ve kind of all realized what’s important and what isn’t. I won’t miss working so hard so far from home.
Eros: Yeah, you’re right. It’s actually kind of interesting when you look back on it. When we talk about the show, we talk about how much we love it and all that stuff that was really fun when we were shooting. But on the other hand, it’s really difficult and hard, grueling work to get that much of insane, crazy material done in so little time.
Tom: And you end up hating each other a bit – seriously – and then the next day you don’t and it’s like a big family.
That actually sounds a little like us. We traveled for six weeks, stayed in the same car, same hotel rooms. Very long days, but we didn’t argue at all.
Tom: Really? How are you feeling about each other today?
Tiia and Satu: Ehhhh… [laughter]
Did you do any pranks on set? Are you the pranking kind?
Tom: Not really…
Can we expect a blooper reel?
Tom: You know what, it sucks [that we don’t have any yet]! Because there were some really f***ing great bloopers!
Eros: So good.
Tom: And in the first season, when we were in Florence and we launched the show, David [S. Goyer] had a gag reel for season 1 on his laptop and it never made it onto any of the DVD’s! I don’t know where it is. So for the second and third [season] I was like “Look, we have to flag up, tell them: every time there’s a blooper flag it up for the editor!” So they’re there, somewhere.
We need these blooper reels. Maybe we have to start a petition.
Tom: It’s up to publicity [department], it’s not our deal, you know. There’s not much we can do.
So what’s next? Do you have time off or are you going straight into the next project?
Tom: I am already working… [Exasperatedly pointing at his blonde hair] This is not a choice. I’m playing a guy with HIV in San Francisco in a very interesting indie movie called “Pushing Dead”. It’s kind of about the hierarchy of the HIV community. People have kind of forgotten that it’s still very much a permanent thing in San Francisco. So I’m there until the middle of September shooting. I got a gap in the middle of it and I really didn’t think that anyone would see this [points at hair] in public…
We love that basically the first thing you said to us was “I’m so sorry”…
Tom: Well the good thing is, I have Chinese neck tattoos in it as well and down my arm, but they come off!
Eros: You look cool!
Tom: So that’s what I’m doing.
Eros: I’m working on my own travel tv show thing. It’s basically like a comedy travel documentary series about traveling on a budget. It’s for young people, and it’s like, “Here we are, we’ve only got 500 dollars for five days and how are we gonna survive.” So we’re kind of working on it now and shooting in January [in Central America]. It’s been really good fun!
Tom: I feel like you’ve talked about this so much that it has to happen now! Like you’ve willed it into existence.
Eros: I know!
Because we’re Fangirl Quest, we have to ask you about filming locations. What are your favourite locations? It doesn’t have to be Da Vinci’s Demons, it can be anything.
Eros: Anywhere inside.
Tom: You like inside?
Eros: If I’m staying in Wales.
Tom: I never wanna go in that hole in Fforest Fawr ever again.
Do you mean Three Bears Cave? We’ve been there a couple of times…
Tom: Yeah, Three Bears Cave, which I was in while filming Doctor Who [while guest starring as Robin Hood], which I was in at the end of season 2 of Da Vinci, which I’m in in season 3 of Da Vinci… It’s always the same hole, but it’s supposed to be different.
We tried to visit the beach at Atlantic College (a magnificent location in Wales), but it’s private.
Eros: Oh yeah that’s pretty funky, it’s really crazy actually.
Tom: It’s for sort of like royalties’ children…
Eros: You just go and you’re like “oh my god what is this weird, beautiful place.”
Tom: Wolf Hall was there.
Eros: I’ll tell you what, one that was very cool to shoot in, you know Park Crescent in London? Just as you’re going up Great Portland street, there’s that little crescent of all beige houses. Nanny McPhee closed that off when we shot there and they turned it into a 1950’s street and that was pretty cool I’m not gonna lie. That was probably the coolest…
Tom: And also you were ten. [laughter]
Eros: It was like five minutes from my house so I had a really late pick-up. And they just closed this whole amazing road.
Tom: That is cool.
Eros: And then we got to go in the houses and sit on the balcony… You’re only allowed to do that if you’re like an ambassador or something, so it was really cool. That was a fun day.
Tom: I like set builds. I know locations are great but we go in to set builds and you’re like “holy crap what have you done?!”
Eros: A lot of this series happens in the council of Florence, the city council, and they built this council chamber… I remember reading it in the script, and even though I read it, I didn’t put much thought into it. And then I came on set on the day, and they told me “yeah we’re just in here”. We walked in and this space is just huge! It’s like an arena, it’s massive, and the whole thing was completely functional. They just built this beautiful, amazing room with balconies and it could fit 300 people. It was crazy! I spent most of the season there.
Tom: I only did one scene.
Eros: We didn’t do that many scenes in there, we did maybe like six or seven in the whole series.
Tom: Because Vanessa and Niko are running Florence.
Eros: The kids are in charge…
We mention the scene from season 2 where Leonardo jumps off of Machu Picchu and lands into Puzzlewood in Wales, and get good giggles out of it. That is a pretty impressive jump, after all.
At this point, we get the “wrap it up” call from the publicity folk and decide to do a quick video. The idea is to give the guys a few sentences to finish. Turns out, Tom’s really not a fan of the segment, but we appreciate the giggles.
After our fun chat with the guys we say our goodbyes and wish them a lovely time in Finland. We leave the hotel with big grins on our faces, partly because we think we handled it without freaking out too much, and because we have a lovely history with the show. Getting the opportunity to meet, greet and interview some of the cast was pretty amazing.
We’ve been huge fans of this crazy awesome show since the very first minutes into it. We were both living back in Wales when they started filming the second season, not far from our dear then home city of Cardiff. So we visited a few of their filming locations and even happened to be on set on a day of filming, but had to leave before the cast and crew arrived.
Soon we posted our first Demons sceneframes in our blog for our fellow fans, but little did we know… A couple of months later our name came up in a live interview with the three, and we learned that Tom and Gregg were well aware of what we do. We were in awe.
A few months later Tiia visited the set of Doctor Who and met Tom all dressed up as Robin Hood. Pictures were signed, photos were taken. It’s certainly a dear pattern of ours.