Leonardo DiCaprio will star as Leonardo da Vinci in a film adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s biography about the famous inventor, artist, and scholar, according to Deadline. DiCaprio was named after da Vinci after his mother felt him kick for the first time while looking at a da Vinci painting in an Italian museum. This is not really relevant to the project, but it is a fun fact.
Penny Dreadful creator John Logan (who has also written feature scripts for movies like Skyfalland Hugo) has been tasked with penning the script for the Paramount adaptation. This won’t be the first time DiCaprio and Logan have worked together. Logan previously worked on the DiCaprio-led biopic The Aviator.
Da Vinci is a fascinating, complex figure, with many possible ways to tell his story and aspects of his life to focus on Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci is an ambitious, broad exploration of the man’s life and character. It’s unclear what Logan will hone in on, but he has experience adapting Isaacson books into film scripts, as he did the same for the movie Steve Jobs, which was adapted from the book of the same name by Isaacson.
Here’s the official synopsis of Leonardo da Vinci:
Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson weaves a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.
He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. But in his own mind, he was just as much a man of science and technology. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius.
His creativity, like that of other great innovators, came from having wide-ranging passions. He peeled flesh off the faces of cadavers, drew the muscles that move the lips, and then painted history’s most memorable smile. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. Isaacson also describes how Leonardo’s lifelong enthusiasm for staging theatrical productions informed his paintings and inventions.
Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance of instilling, both in ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.
As DiCaprio is about to start work on Quentin Tarantino’s next project, so it’s unclear when or if this project will make it past the script stage. But it’d be nice to have a proper film about Leonardo da Vinci who, despite being a popular figure, has never gotten the full Hollywood treatment. More news as we hear it.