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Genius: Antonio Banderas cast as Picasso in season 2

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Venturelli/Getty Images; Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Genius has found its Pablo Picasso!

Antonio Banderas will play the Spanish painter in the Nat Geo anthology series’ upcoming second season, which will chronicle Picasso’s life and work. As of now, there is no word yet on who will play younger Picasso. Season 2 will follow the model set by season 1, which starred Johnny Flynn and Geoffrey Rush as the young and older Albert Einstein, respectively.

“The life story of Pablo Picasso has long since fascinated me and I have so much respect for this man, who also comes from my birthplace, Málaga,” Banderas said in a statement. “I am thrilled to work with National Geographic, [executive producers] Brian [Grazer], Ron [Howard], Ken [Biller], and the rest of the Genius team to tell an authentic story of one of the most innovative painters in the world.”

“Antonio was the natural choice. He, like Picasso, has a no-holds-barred approach to life that will add to the genuineness that we’re looking for,” said Howard. “He has such tremendous range as an actor, who I know will bring this brilliant and unconventional artist to life.”

Grazer added: “From Pancho Villa to Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Antonio has had such a successful track record in portraying real-life, larger-than-life iconic figures with such honesty and depth. And with Picasso, I’m looking forward to seeing his interpretation of the man behind the artistic greatness.”

The EPs decided to focus on Picasso in the second season because they wanted to make a statement that scientists aren’t the only geniuses. As it did with Einstein in its debut season, Genius will explore the link between the painter’s professional and personal lives, the latter of which was characterized with tumultuous marriages, numerous affairs, and constantly shifting political and personal alliances.

“He was an enigmatic figure, famous, a household name, and yet you don’t really know the story of his life or what inspired him, drove him, troubled him, and how through the turbulence he achieved such artistic greatness in so many different ways and modalities and over so many years,”  said Howard in June when he revealed season 2’s subject. “I think it’s that combination that made him feel like a great choice for our season 2.”

Genius is expected to return in 2018.

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