Hong Kong – As National Geographic heads into this year’s Emmys with ten nominations for the first season of Genius, Emmy- and Golden Globe nominated actor Antonio Banderas (“Evita,” “The Mask of Zorro,” “El Mariachi”) has been cast as Pablo Picasso in season two, which will chronicle the life and work of the Spanish painter, one of the 20th century’s most influential and celebrated artists. The new season, 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, and will premiere in 2018.

“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,” 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.” “Antonio was the natural choice. He, like Picasso, has a no-holds barred approach to life that will add to the geniuneness that we’re looking for,” said Ron Howard. “He has such tremendous range as an actor, who I know will bring this brilliant and unconventional artist to life.” “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,” added Grazer. “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 Vice President, 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.” Banderas is repped by Paradigm Talent Agency. The first season of GENIUS, which starred Geoffrey Rush (“The King’s Speech,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”) as Einstein, was recently nominated for ten Emmys including Outstanding Limited Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series and more, marking a network first.