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Spartacus: Gods of the Arena – Lucy Lawless on life after a ‘fatal’ wound

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Spartacus: Gods of the Arena - Lucy Lawless
Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) © 2011 Starz Entertainment

It didn’t look good for John Hannah and Lucy Lawless, aka Batiatus and Lucretia, at the end of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. It still doesn’t look good for Batiatus, as he almost had his head severed off, but the fatal wound Lucretia was dealt now appears not to be quite so deadly. She will be returning to Season Two of the franchise.

Unfortunately, Andy Whitfield, who played Spartacus, won’t be coming back as his cancer has recurred. So instead of going straight into Season Two, Starz decided to do a prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which will chronicle the House of Batiatus before Spartacus arrives.

I spoke with Lucy about the series, which is produced by her husband Rob Tapert, along with Sam Raimi.

Lucretia seems nicer in the prequel.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena 1.01 - Lucy Lawless and Jaime Murray
Episode 1.01 - Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) and Gala (Jaime Murray) © 2011 Starz Entertainment

She’s much nicer to start with. You can see when Lucretia had hope and trust in other human beings. She was crazy about her husband and she had some sort of faith in humanity, and then you see that eroded over the course of the prequel.

When you shot the miniseries, you didn’t expect that you were coming back. How disappointed were you to be killed off?

I knew that before I even took the job.

And when you shot your death scene, did you sigh?

A little bit, yeah, because I didn’t feel that I had scratched the surface of what the character was or that I had done particularly good work. I just wanted to go deeper.

They gave me such great material in this prequel. I think and I hope my best work is ahead of me, but I’m really proud of my work and I’m really proud of the show and to be part of it.

Is it tough to go back and forth between the States and New Zealand?

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena 2011; Episode 1
Episode 1.01 - Solonius (Craig Walsh Wrightson), Gala (Jaime Murray), Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) and Batiatus (John Hannah) © 2011 Starz Entertainment

I don’t go back and forth, I just live down there. I’ve moved home. My kids are very settled there, so I don’t think I could get them to move now.

What was it like working with John Hannah again, but in a different dynamic?

It was lovely. He was so joyful, he was in such good form and I think because it was a shorter period, and he was away from his family for a shorter period, it was much easier for him to be there. And he knew everybody and everybody knew what the show was, so I think everybody was much more comfortable in the environment.

Have you spoken to Andy?

We e-mail one another. He’s a very spiritual man and he sees it in a much larger context and he’s just putting himself and his family first right now and we want to see him back on screen somewhere. He’s got a wonderful career ahead of him. If it’s not this one, there will be something else.

Has Rob told you what’s going to happen in the next season?

It’s best not to know, because you angst about it ahead of time, what good is that going to do for you? Or you look forward to it and it doesn’t happen, they rewrite it. So until it’s on the stage what’s on the page doesn’t matter so much.

Have you gotten more comfortable doing the nude scenes now?

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena 1.01 - Jaime Murray and Lucy Lawless
Episode 1.01 - Gala (Jaime Murray) and Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) © 2011 Starz Entertainment

No, I haven’t. Nudity and sex scenes are completely two different things. Nudity you can kind of get used to, but not when there is movement and relating involved, so the sex scenes are very uncomfortable, because that’s something to be protected, so you have a visceral reaction to not exploit that. Normal people in our society, we don’t put it out there that often.

What about the violence in the series, has it dulled your senses towards violence?

No, I don’t think so. And that might be something to do with the graphic nature of it. I think what people are responding to is it’s so base, and that the shedding of blood like that is so sacrilegious, on an animal level, it is complete disillusion of all our taboos, sexual waste, human waste, waste of blood, waste of potential, in a society that was wasted and died in its own waste.

When will you allow your children to see the series?

When they are 103! My daughter actually works in editing. She’s twenty-two. Not only has she seen the show, she sees all our outtakes. Actually, I don’t know, she kind of tends to turn her back in those scenes. They say, ‘Daisy, turn your back for 20 minutes,’ and she goes and works on something else.

Do you consider this show a family business?

What makes it easier is that I’m proud of this, I’m proud of my work and I’m proud of the finished product. I think Rob’s a brilliant producer and I think he’s a brilliant boss. People bring 110 percent, it’s because he’s the kind of boss who sets them up, they’re not afraid to fail and to bring 110 percent, they are not going to get shot down.

They are going to take the best idea from whomever in the room has got it and so all the guns are pointed in the same direction, not at each other, and that’s an environment of trust that he sets up in New Zealand.

Does Sam Raimi have anything to do creatively with the show anymore? Isn’t it really Rob’s show now?

Your words – I can’t possible comment. Sam does, he’s very serious about what he puts his name on. He doesn’t like it to be misused, so he is very much a part of every single discussion. If his name’s on it, he’s part of the discussion.

Sam loves movies and Rob loves television, so this is the division of labor like in any good partnership you carve it up the way that keeps the family working.