Spartacus: Gods of the Arena - Dustin Clare
Gannicus (Dustin Clare) © 2011 Starz Entertainment

Dustin Clare plays Gannicus, the champion gladiator of Batiatus’ ludus in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

Dustin, graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Art 2004, recently completed Fred Schepisi’s feature film The Eye of the Storm.

Dustin starred as Sean in the TV series Satisfaction, where he earned a couple of Award nominations. He also played the lead character in TV’s McLeod’s Daughters for which he won the Logie Award for “Most Popular New Talent”.

How’s it feel to be the new guy?

The new guy. The new guy’s always great because, you know, you get to go in fresh with, you know, your own choices and you get to bring new life and breath kind of a new energy into something that’s already established.

I play Gannicus. Gannicus is a pretty self-destructive gladiator who I modeled really on (Anthony) (unintelligible) the boxing arena and he’s very confident and cocky fighter, but extremely skilled.

Gannicus has an extreme amount of skill, but he’s very self destructive and he’s always trying to escape his reality. And, yeah, he was an interesting character who we get to really unpick through the six episodes. And we have a great through line and a great opportunity to see this man rise within everything that kind of keeps him down, he sort of butts against.

How did  you get involved or pulled into the Spartan world? Did you blindly audition for it or did someone bring it to your attention?

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena 1.04 - Marisa Ramirez and Dustin Clare
Episode 1.04 "Beneath the Mask" - Melitta (Marisa Ramirez) and Gannicus (Dustin Clare) © 2011 Starz

No, Rob had actually seen my work in previous series in Australia and was really interested in having me on his show. And, you know, I hadn’t seen the show so I made a point of watching all 13 episodes over the first series before I decided to test for it.

I just put a test down in my lounge room, you know, my living room on the north coast of New South Wales and (unintelligible) like it. And then, you know, I thought there was something interesting I could do for the role and, you know, the network test came up so I went and tested and then I got the role and then I moved to New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud, to film, which is a lovely country I must say.

How where you when you sparred at gladiator camp?

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena 1.05 - Antonio Te Maioha and Dustin Clare
Episode 1.05 - Barca (Antonio Te Maioha) and Gannicus (Dustin Clare) © 2011 Starz

Yeah, yeah. I’ve probably still got a couple of war wounds from Manu [Bennett].

Your the new guy and the sex symbol, does this relate in any way to your personal life

I don’t take any of that stuff seriously to be honest with you.

You know, I look at it from a working perspective and from, you know, perspective of like, you know, getting in and trying to do the best work I can and, you know, I’m passionate about being an actor and I’m definitely not passionate about being a sex symbol.

Gannicus appears to have it all, you know, the looks, the body, the woman. Is his life much different than yours?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, very different, very different. I come from a small town on the coast of New South Wales and I spend a lot more time in the ocean than Gannicus does.

Was this one of the most physically demanding roles that you were ever in?

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena 1.01 - Dustin Clare
Episode 1.01 - Gannicus (Dustin Clare) © 2010 Starz Entertainment

It was very much physically demanding role that I’ve ever been in, yes. Yeah, it was intense. The training, the constant training, once you start filming, keeping up the training we were doing – I was doing seven hours a day for three weeks, different things, stunts, cross-training, fighting with double swords and then a session in the pool.

But yeah, very physically demanding. Like Manu said, you come away with a lot of cuts and bruises, you know, we’re all aware that we hurt each other, you know, physically all the time. But like, you know, we’re in it together. We never really mean it and, you know, we’re all fighting for a great result ultimately.

And, you know, a big testament to that is definitely to the fight choreographers, (Alan Populton), (Tim Wong), (Paul Shatkoff), those guys, are just, you know, world-class stunt choreographers and, you know, Manu and myself and Peter, everyone, we’ve all got to learn from the guys who are best in the business and they’re skills that we’ll have for the rest of our lives as actor so that’s a big plus.

On this prequel, with all the training and you guys had to do how do you recover from a day?

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, 1.02 - Dustin Clare
Episode 1.02 "Missio" - Gannicus (Dustin Clare) © 2010 Starz Entertainment

Well for me it was getting in the pool and swimming laps and clearing my head. You know, Manu’s got a family that he has to go home to. I’m sure that’s a piece of his kind of detaching himself from what he’s been working with.

But, yeah, for me it was about getting in the water, reconnecting with the water and just clearing my head.

What the training and preparation for the gladiators like?

The training this year was slightly scaled down boot camp to what they had in the first season. It was two weeks. I had three weeks and for myself it was four hours in the morning of circuit training, stunt training and then a lunch break for an hour and then two hours of sword training and then an hour sleep and then one hour in the pool. So it was about seven hours of pretty intense training for me.

I understand your trainer made catering make a special table for the?

No fun diet. Hated salad.

So is it a relief after the season’s over that you’re able to kind of go back to eating what you want?

For the love of God, yes.

What is the easiest and the most challenging aspects you?

I think the most challenging aspect of it was, you know, keeping up your – the degree of physical kind of fitness you need while filming a, you know, a major role, a lead role, in a, you know, a prime time U.S. series.

You know, you have very little time to sleep and eat, let alone train so that was very – that was an aspect that was, you know, challenging.

We have a very international cast on this series, you know. There’s people from all over: New Zealand, Scotland, the UK and Australia.

And just working with actors from different countries and, you know, I really enjoyed that aspect and I thought it was an easy transition to work with a very international cast.

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