At the end of the first season of Spartacus, entitled Blood and Sand, it appeared that Lucretia, portrayed by Lucy Lawless, and her husband Batiatus (John Hannah), the owners of a gladiator school, the House of Batiatus, came to a gory end. Well, Batiatus did, as his head was practically severed from his body by Spartacus. But this is TV, and despite the fact that Lucretia looked virtually dead, she’s coming back for season two.
In season one, Katrina Law played Mira, a slave who was forced to seduce Spartacus and become his lover, but instead helped him plot and execute the gladiators’ escape from Batiatus’ ludus.
In season two, Spartacus: Vengeance, the gladiator rebellion continues and begins to strike terror in the heart of the Roman Republic.
Lucy and Katrina spoke with TV critics last August about the series, which premieres on Starz in January.
So how did Lucretia survive that very lethal-looking wound? And will there be a flashback to that day or any explanation at all?
Katrina: It was just a flesh wound!.
Lucy: That’s right, just a flesh wound. There is a scar, actually. I’m [not allowed] to tell you, but you do find out how she survived, and it’s going to backfire horribly on her. Poor little Lucretia!
How many great scenes do you get to play with Viva Bianca this season?
Lucy: Many. Ilithyia left us at the end, she barricaded the door and effectively enabled the massacre to happen against her own people. So the series is called Vengeance, and my relationship with Ilithyia will certainly be a testimony to an act of vengeance. So there’s lots with her, lots of vicious parlor games, which is where all of the real punishment is meted out.
Could you both talk about playing women in this era when women didn’t have a lot of power. Your characters seem to have their own sense of power.
Katrina: I think this is a great series for women to be on because we do get a lot of range. We do get to express a lot of our sensuality, our power, and get to explore that side, and we don’t have to stand in the background.
This year, Mira gets to figure out what it means to be free and what it means to be able to make decisions and have choices. She finds herself in love for the first time and all of these are emotions to be able to go through.
How she ends up fighting for love and for her freedom, I think it surprises her, and I think it’s going to surprise some of the audience members when they see what she ends up doing.
Lucy: I don’t feel that Lucretia has any power whatsoever and never had. If you watched (the prequel) Gods of the Arena, you can see that she’s purely reactive. She’s always toeing the line of whatever her husband wants, and she pays the price every time when things come unstuck.
I don’t know what it looks like from the outside, but what it feels like to play her, she’s a little fish swimming for her life with all of these sharks on every side. She’s a survivor. She’ll chomp on a few smaller fish on the way, but really she’s in the shark tank.
She’s terribly fearful, because there’s no safety net. Lucretia is very powerless, there is only survival. There’s no one [she can cry to], nobody cares about her. So she’d better care about herself.
How has the production changed now that the slaves have escaped and the series is not stuck in the ludus anymore?
Katrina: It makes it a lot of fun to go to work every day because you don’t know what set you are going to be presented with, and you don’t know what challenge you are going to be faced with that day. And sometimes when you walk on the set and you see these epic sceneries in the background, you just think, ‘Wow, they really did mange the impossible.’
Lucy, you won the Saturn Award this year for Best Supporting Actress in a series? What are your thoughts about being nominated from the science fiction and fantasy community?
Lucy: Lovely. They are all like family to me because they were there at the beginning of my career, and that sort of carried me through. I’m very grateful for their support. And it’s nice to be recognized. I’ve never won anything, except a hula hoop competition when I was about eight.
Does the violence on the show ever bother you?
Katrina: I think the graphic-novel style of the way that Spartacus is shot is one of the fun parts about it. I feel like if you watched something like Saving Private Ryan, when you walk away you are a little traumatized. Whereas, with Spartacus, with the graphic-novel style, it almost takes you out of reality a little bit so you can watch it.
I think the amount of violence that is on our show, if it were depicted in a very realistic fashion, it would make it really difficult to watch. So, with the graphic-novel style, I think it makes it easy for you to cheer and to be happy and walk away fully entertained from this series.
What would you fight for with your last breath?
Lucy: My husband and kids. I’m extremely protective in my own way of them.
Katrina: I would fight for my family and for my future marriage. I feel like it’s the only thing that’s truly real in this world and the only thing that’s not transient, and I’m very protective of it. And I want to keep it safe from anybody that tries to mess with it or tries to interfere. I get very (makes fierce face) toward them. So it translates well for Spartacus.