Sherlock’s Lara Pulver on Da Vinci’s Demons: We don’t shy away from sexual intimacy

A quickfire Q&A with the actress who plays Irene Adler and Clarice Orsini


What’s the last thing you watched?


Broadchurch. Olivia Colman is a friend, doing phenomenal work and rightly being praised for it.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I zone out to US drama Parenthood, which is like a modern-day Waltons or Happy Days.

Childhood favourite?

I used to love creative programmes like Let’s Pretend and Hartbeat. I’d send in pictures and watch the show on tenterhooks hoping they would be displayed in the gallery.

Who was your first crush?

Guy Pearce in Neighbours. Everyone liked Jason Donovan so I wanted to be different. Mike was darker and a little bit more dangerous than squeaky-clean Scott.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest?

Katharine Hepburn: I’ve just read her biography and I’m fascinated by how resilient she was. Or Ben Affleck, who I think is a very clever businessman and so original. I had a dream the other night that we were working together on set, which I took to be a good omen.

Do you tune into British TV when you’re in America?

Sometimes I watch Graham Norton on a Saturday night because he has better guests than most and I find it very entertaining seeing how American movie stars react to his sense of humour.

It’s over a year since your infamous Sherlock episode. Is your Twitter appreciation society still going strong?

Oh my God, I get inundated every day with people saying, “Please say Irene Adler’s going to be in season three, please!”

And is she?

As far as I know, I’m not going to be a part of series three. Sherlock is Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s passion project. If it fits to have her back, I know they’ll write it; if it doesn’t, I trust them to get it right.

Are you more demurely attired in Da Vinci’s Demons?

Yes and no. We are in Renaissance Italy, which involved women often being used for men’s desires, and we don’t shy away from sexual intimacy. However, I’m not one to drop clothes for the sake of it.

What was it like re-creating Renaissance Florence in Wales?

We built the biggest sound stages in Europe in a disused car factory and the whole city of Swansea was amazingly supportive. But the weather was our enemy during the five-month shoot – it rained every day!

You’ve likened your character, Lorenzo de’ Medici’s wife Clarice Orsini, to Hillary Clinton.

Yes, I see Clarice as a Jackie O, Hillary Clinton or Wallis Simpson type; the power behind the throne.

Do you deliberately choose women who give as much as they get?

That’s what I love. I like playing off strong actors, whether it’s Benedict Cumberbatch or Dominic Cooper. Also I’m a hopeless romantic, so I’m fascinated by relationships.

Dominic Cooper?

I’m playing opposite him in a biopic about Ian Fleming and the tempestuous love affairs he had with many women, including Ann O’Neill, who eventually became his one and only wife. Their relationship was dysfunctional, abusive at times, and the script doesn’t shy away from anything.

Would you like to be a Bond girl?

Definitely. But what is wonderful is that in a way I’m playing the ultimate Bond girl.


1. Bogen or Lewis? Borgen

2. Radio 4 or Radio 2? That’s tricky. Depends on the mood.

3. EastEnders or Corrie? I don’t watch either.

4. Jamie Oliver or Nigel Slater? Nigel Slater.

5. Miranda Hart or Tina Fey? Tina Fey. She was brilliant at the Golden Globes.


Da Vinci’s Demons continues on Fridays at 10:00pm on FOX