Antonio Banderas Takes the Lead as Picasso in Nat Geo’s ‘Genius’

Antonio Banderas, who made his name in Evita, The Mask of Zorro and other films, has been cast as Pablo Picasso in season two of Genius on National Geographic. The new season will chronicle the life and work of the Spanish painter.

Season two, from Fox 21 Television Studios, will again be executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, Madison Wells Media’s OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow.

It will premiere in 2018.

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“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.”

The first season starred Geoffrey Rush as Albert Einstein. It was nominated for 10 Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie.

Showrunner, executive producer and writer Ken Biller will continue his role overseeing the new season.  

“Not only are they both from Málaga, Spain, but also similar to Picasso, Antonio exudes charisma and passion, and has challenged boundaries with his creative artistry,” said Carolyn Bernstein, executive VP, head of global scripted, National Geographic. “He checks all the boxes for us and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him lead the series.”

Similar to Einstein, Nat Geo says Picasso “imagined and interpreted the world in totally new and unorthodox ways, and constantly reinvented our perceptions of art and creativity.” The artist generated an estimated 50,000 works, including “The Old Guitarist,” “Guernica” and “Les Demoiselles D’Avignon.” His private life included tumultuous marriages, affairs and constantly shifting political and personal alliances.

“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,” said Banderas. “I am thrilled to work with National Geographic, Brian, Ron, Ken and the rest of the Genius team to tell an authentic story of one of the most innovative painters in the world.”

Banderas’ other film works include Philadelphia and Interview With the Vampire.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.