Lara Pulver talks “Da Vinci Demons” and Irene Adler’s sexuality on “Sherlock”

She’s hasn’t been seen much in Da Vinci’s Demons thus far but watch tonight for Clarice Orsini, played by Lara Pulver, to put another woman in her place.

While we’ve seen plenty of Clarice’s husband, Lorenzo Medici (Elliot Cowan) have his dalliances with his beautiful mistress, Lucrezia (Laura Haddock, who we talked to recently), in tonight’s episode, “The Prisoner,” Clarice summons her husband’s plaything for a little chat.

Pulver, best known as the bisexual Irene Adler in Sherlock as well as the role of Fairy Godmother to Anna Paquin on True Blood, sat down with AfterEllen recently to talk about the complexities of her role in Da Vinci’s Demons as well as what she knows about a possible return to Irene.

AfterEllen: What does a role have to have for you to take it whether it’s on Sherlock or it’s on this? I mean, what is that one thing that you’re like “OK, I can do this?”
Lara Pulver:
Normally if it’s a challenge. Normally if I go, “God, I’m actually scared to do this.” Then you go, “OK, well then that’s the next step.”

AE: Is there more to Clarice than just the wife to the powerful Lorenzo Medici?
Absolutely. She’s the woman behind the throne.

AE: That’s good stuff. What is that marriage about because we know he has a mistress in Lucrezia. Is she aware?
Of that time, yes to a certain degree. However, it’s still a huge obstacle that she has to get her head around during the first season because she is a devoted wife. Not only to her husband, but to Florence and she wants what is best for that family and for the people of that city.

AE: How was it for you doing this period? Was it something you had done before or was it all new territory for you?
It was a history lesson. It was an education. David’s vision is so clear and what’s wonderful is having him on set all the time and being able to go “I’m not sure” and he’ll say “well, this is what I’m planting the seed of for x-y-z.” And the clarity is there.

AE: Does anything come into play with woman in the show because, at least at this point, you see some men having relations with other men, but do we see anything with women? Does Clarice have anything? Is there any element of that yet?
No but I think we don’t shy away from anything, like you said, within the show, but nothing comes into my mind in regards to the first season.

AE: From what you know of Clarice now, at least to this point, do you think that’s something she would do if it was a means to an end or if there was a reason behind it or is that just not who she is?
I don’t think that’s who she is.

AE: Lucrezia has a lot of sensual scenes in the first couple of episodes, does Clarice get some of those kinds of scenes later in the series when we see more of her?
They’re a very different nature. When we see any intimate scenes with Clarice, it’s a relationship between a husband and wife. So far, she’s produced three children, all female. So she has a very different pressure and a very different job to fulfill — her demon, in the sense of the show, comes later in the season where she hasn’t produced a son. There’s no male heir to the Medici line.

AE: Yeah, that was a big deal in that time.
Precisely. So the animalistic side, that’s Lucrezia’s bag.

AE: What do you think of people focusing on that part because, even with Da Vinci’s Demons, the first question is often ‘okay, what about the gay part?’
I think it’s whatever you choose to project. I think it’s whatever your identity is, whatever your background is is often what you’ll end up projecting or focusing on. Does it make it wrong or right? No.

AE: How was the sexuality element when you did Sherlock?
I never wanted to label or give her the identity. Yes, she admits in the scene with Watson that she’s gay, that she’s in a homosexual relationship, but she fell in love with another gender. I think she just fell in love with a mind. She fell in love with Sherlock. It kind of turns it on to “Look, this is possible.” I know so many people who they fall in love with a soul.

AE: You’ve said that with Sherlock, you don’t know what’s going to happen next season but that you would love to go back.
I don’t think any of us would say no on that kind of show. They’ve started shooting Series 3 and I think they’re very keen to introduce some new, iconic characters from the Conan Doyle world. They’ve also announced that there’s going to be a Series 4, possibly a Series 5, which is hugely exciting because I think their intention is to come back to this relationship. It made such an impact that I think there is that sense of over boiling the egg in that way and I think there’s something nice about creating that world and then feeding into other characters and issues and then maybe coming back in future series. But as [co-creator] Steven Moffat has said, [Irene] is definitely not dead.

AE: As an actor, what’s kind of your wheelhouse? Is it drama? Do you want to be doing more comedy? Do you feel like where you really want to be for a while?
Right now, I’ve been doing a lot of drama. However, I have funny bones and it would be nice to explore that one day, that’s for sure, but I’m having just a whale of a time off of the back of Sherlock and just the momentum and the response has been overwhelming.

Da Vinci’s Demons airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on Starz!