Comic-Con: SPARTACUS Interview with Steven S. DeKnight, Liam McIntyre, Manu Bennett, Cythia Addai-Robinson – Tales of Epic Endings, Loves and Tributes

     July 13, 2012


I’ve been watching Spartacus since day two.  I somehow missed day one.  Spartacus is much more than sex and gore, it’s about heart.  It’s about the growth of these characters from slaves to freedom fighters.  So getting a chance to sit down with Steven S. DeKnight (executive producer), Liam McIntyre (Spartacus), Manu Bennett (Crixus) and Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Naevia) was a big treat.  They’d flown straight from set in New Zealand to talk about the series.  For what they had to say about the final season Spartacus: War of the Damned, airing on STARZ in January 2013, read on after the break.

Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)

On where they’re at in production, “When I go back, I will be shooting the last couple of days of episode five, so we’ve just gone past halfway.  Shot five scenes on Thursday and got on plane.  This year’s crazy.  Some of the best writing I’ve  seen for the whole series.”


On boot camp, “They just make it harder.  You’d think it’s the last season, take it easy.  The guys got on a military vibe, which was a nightmare.  It’s great, it means you do the work and feel good about yourself when you do those love scenes.  It’s one of the best ways to get a cast together, put them in an environment where failure’s not an option, but that’s what they’re trying to get you to do.  You work together, you fight together, it feels like the war that you’re about to go through in the story.”

Andy Whitfield’s advice over email to Liam, “It’s a big family.  Look after yourself.  It’s a tough show, but it’s one of the best experiences ever.”

On this season’s story, “They skipped ahead to the meat of the story, they’ve chopped out all of the fat.  They built a whole city.  It’s going to wrap it up in an exciting and still unexpected way, because you can Wikipedia Spartacus and find out what happens.  It’s one of those lucky histories, all the details are a bit vague so you can fill it with all the interesting plot points you want.  People die at all different times.  People go on to exciting adventures that you don’t expect.  Every script that I’ve read has given me something that surprised me so far.”

On where’s his character is at, “He’s very much business now.  He’s closed a bit of the chapter on his personal pain.  He’s tried to embrace that for the masses, for freedom thing.  That’s been a challenge because everything in acting is about relationships so you can’t just play some general of people who’s just out to win the war even though that’s his story now.  There are thousands of people dying.  It actually weighs heavier on him.  But he has to close all of that out so he can be the warrior general so that everyone else has the confidence that they can win this thing which is for all intents and purposes seemingly impossible against the richest man and the strongest nation in the world at that time.”


On playing himself in a video game, “That shit is the bomb!” (P.S.  He used to run a video game store.)

Manu Bennett (Crixus)

On the relationship between Crixus and Naevia, “Right from the very start until what we’re filming right now, there’s still a determination between Spartacus and Crixus behind what the meaning behind freedom is.   Whether you’re doing it for yourself or doing it for others.  What are the things to protect if you’re trying to gain freedom.  For Crixus, once he met Naevia and that love story began, it’s been about finding that window that she opened up for him.  We begin season three with the idea that the two of them are in their zenith of their relationship.  They’ve found everything they’ve ever been looking for, except being beyond the borders of Rome.  Everything takes a slide towards the worst.”

On the scope of this season, “This is the season about Rome bringing all its might and all its power in to squash this group that dared to defy them.  It starts out with the group feeling quite confident in themselves, because they managed to beat one small legion and hold a city for a while.  Now, here comes the might of Rome.  Anybody who researches the history of it knows it doesn’t end well.  The epic nature of the War of the Damned is the epic battles that do take place.  We’re saying goodbye to each other slowly as the end nears…”


On the relationship between Crixus and Spartacus, “Crixus and Spartacus have a huge power struggle this season.  Spartacus has the concept that everybody deserves freedom, including the Romans when it comes to some circumstances.  When he starts defending the enemy, Crixus thinks, ‘Are we in a war here? Can you afford to care for these people, to feed these people, when we barely have rations for ourselves?  And they’re the enemy, they’re the people who have done this to us.  What’s the statement you’re trying to make, Spartacus?’  That really starts hinging on the drama of the rebel force who start to divide itself based on whether they believe that this concept of Spartacus’s should be for everybody, including the Romans.  That is the heart of this season — the difference of opinion in that equality of freedom for all.”

On Be Here Now, the Kickstarter documentary about Andy Whitfield, “(Points to the “Be Here Now” emblazoning his shirt)  This is Andy’s tattoo which he put on his arm during his treatment phase for cancer.  Be Here Now is a documentary that was shot during Andy’s treatment phase and they shot right up until a few days before Andy passed away.  There’s a trailer for it on YouTube.  I believe they just finalized getting all the funding they need to produce the documentary and finish it off.  If you’re a fan of the show and you want to know just more about that man behind our first series, that brilliant actor, that wonderful father, that caring husband which he was, make sure you watch Be Here Now when it comes out.  It’s about living the moment and being aware of the gift of life.  For Andy, being a family man and having children, it’s just been so sad for all of us to have lost him.  If it’s this message about cancer that helps awareness and speeds up finding a cure, that’s what Andy would’ve wanted from this documentary.”

Steven S. DeKnight (Executive Producer)

On the inevitability of history, “You know, the thing about the ending is, it’s kind of like the sinking of the Titanic, you know the Titanic sank, but still James Cameron’s movie made a billion dollars back in the day.  It’s not about what happened, it’s not about the ship sinking, it’s not about the Roman’s winning, it’s about how did we get there.  It’s the human story.  The great thing about the history of Spartacus is, if you read it, it’s all written from the Roman’s side, so from an artistic standpoint, there’s nothing about the people.  There’s nothing about why.  That’s something we get to explore.  The trickiest thing about the ending is, you don’t want to have the complete downbeat ending.  Everybody died, they lost.  It’s the great thing in the Kirk Douglas version, there’s that ray of hope.  Even though he was crucified, his son was going to live free.  We’re not doing that, obviously, but I think we found a way to have a message of victory in the face of defeat.”


Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Naevia)
On Naevia’s relationship with Crixus, “I think that the response to that storyline, people are obviously really invested.  At the end of the day, myself and Manu (Bennett) were really passionate about honoring what that storyline means to people, that epic love of loves.  This man has gone to hell and back to find this woman.  Who doesn’t want that level of love?  It’s really amazing.”

On getting the role, “When I got the role, I was put on tape in Los Angeles and didn’t hear anything and I thought, “Oh, that went away” and then all of the sudden, I get a call that Steven DeKnight would like to meet with you. ‘How would you like to go to New Zealand and swing around a sword?’  ‘Okay’  Once I found that out, I had a week to pack up my life and go to New Zealand.  I’ve been on this crazy ride ever since.  It’s been a dream come true, getting to travel to this location and meet all these amazing people and play a role that, I really don’t think there’s a role like this on television right now… Any female that gets to kick ass at this level, you feel pretty lucky.”

On how she’d like it to end, “I don’t know. Maybe come back as a zombie…”


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