Last year the Starz Channel premiered the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, starring Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless and John Hannah, which immediately became a cult favorite, making it the most-watched premiere in Starz’ history. Unfortunately when the show was picked up for Season Two, Andy Whitfield was forced to leave the role of Spartacus due to health issues.
After a long search, Australian actor Liam McIntyre was chosen for the part of the Thracian warrior sold into slavery in the Roman Republic of Capua, where he rises to become the champion of the city.
Even though the second season of the show, Spartacus: Vengeance, doesn’t debut until next January, members of the cast joined the TV Critics tour to talk about the ongoing saga, and Liam McIntyre spoke about his trials and tribulations taking over the coveted role through such unfortunate circumstances.
You are filling big shoes for a character and big shoes because of Andy Whitfield. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Yeah. It’s one of those things I’ve said before. It’s a role you wish was never there, especially for a fan. I think what Andy did in Season One was exceptional work. It is a tough act to follow, but I’ve got an obligation to the fans, to the show, and to Andy’s Season One legacy to deliver on that. And I’ve been supported so much by the cast and by Starz. They’ve really empowered me.
One of the nicest things was Andy contacted me. I know from experience now, this is the job that you dream of getting. It’s the job of a lifetime, and then he’s met with this tragic circumstance.
He’s still got the strength of character to contact me and say, ‘Good luck. Well done,’ and give me some tips and advice on how to get through the grueling schedule. I think that speaks volumes of a man. He’s fantastic, and his legacy from Season One will continue forever.
My job is the big job of trying to keep this show as exciting. But that’s made easy because it’s an ensemble and all of your favorite characters are back again, and we get to mix those worlds from Season One to the prequel with Gannicus (Dustin Clare) coming into the fold in interesting circumstances.
What sort of tips did Andy give you, and what preparations did you have to do, physically and emotionally?
It was around all that. He just reminded me that it is grueling. He basically said what I have now discovered, which is it’s not easy being Spartacus. [He said] lift heavy weights, eat well; protect yourself.
Dustin said the same thing when I started, and that was, ‘Look after yourself because it’s a long season, and they demand a lot, but you get such wonderful results.’
Your fellow cast members are used to all the blood and gore. Did it take some getting used to?
It is unlike anything! I was a fan when it all started. So I got into that from a fan’s point-of-view. And it’s weird to be in this position, but it’s like being a big kid. I mean, who doesn’t want to be able to wield a sword and to mete out that kind of justice?
The stories are so well crafted that the violence doesn’t seem unusual in the world that you live in, and I guess as you go through the scripts and explore them, it feels right. It’s exciting to be part of as much as it is to watch.
Every script I’ve read so far, I’ve gone, ‘How is this even possible?’ I was talking with Manu (Bennett) about this. Every script has wowed me in a different way through the journey so far. I don’t know why they are so mean to the poor production crew!
There are these big warehouses, and you walk in, and suddenly you are in Ancient Rome or some derivative thereof. It’s just the care that the people take with costumes and with sets is so exceptional on the show that it’s a real blessing to be part of it for that reason.
Who was your first kill as Spartacus?
I’ll tell you what, when [I read] the first episode and what they wanted me to do, my jaw dropped. And when you see that episode, I think you’ll know exactly where that is. God that would have hurt so much! That took some precision, too. You watch it, it will be exciting.
What would you fight and give your life for?
That’s a good question. This is going to sound cheesy, but it’s really not. I would fight for my mother. In all honesty, there’s so much of what I do on a daily basis in this crazy world, because my mom has gone through hard things.
I guess the closest relationship with the amazingly huge and epic battle that he has to go through against the Republic, you look for the strongest connection to your own life, and what else is bigger than that?