Starz Contents

Spartacus: War of the Damned came to a bloody end a couple of weeks ago but fear not as the show hits DVD and Blu-ray this Monday! To celebrate the release, we got to speak to both Liam McIntyre who plays Spartacus and Todd Lasance who plays Caesar about their roles and how they decided top play them.

Liam was put into a very difficult place when he took over from Andy Whitfield as Spartacus after Andy tragically died from Cancer in 2011. Andy was always set to come back to the show and when it was evident that he wasn’t able to, Liam stepped into his place. During the interview, Liam talks opening about how he wanted to make Andy proud and how he tried to take his own spin on the role rather than copying what Andy did.

I also ask him about Starz decision to end the show at the height of it’s popularity, which even took him by surprise. It’s a fab interview which if you’re a fan of the TV show is well worth a read. Keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for our interview with Liam’s fellow Aussie and real-life housemate Todd Lasance.


HeyUGuys: We’re sad to see the show come to an end but how does it feel for you?

Starz ContentsLiam McIntrye: It’s a great mixture of emotions. On the one hand the most important thing is we’re real proud. Everyone who’s seen it now from the production team has seen it and thought ‘wow, I don’t know how we did it but what a way to go out’ so that’s a really great feeling and the number one thing for the fans that we’re honestly happy with how we realised the ending of a story that we all love so much.

It’s also really sad because it’s the end of an era it its way and for me it’s particularly sad because its the last time that it’ll be on air and in that weird way I hope everyone takes the time to remember Andy [Whitfield]  and his legacy for the show because you don’t want it to fade from consciousness just because the show’s not on air so there’s a lot of emotions involved.

HeyUGuys: That was going to be one of our questions. Obviously you replaced Andy in very difficult circumstances. When you took on the role,  was your aim to make him proud and to take your own spin on the character rather than trying to copy him?

LM: You’ve pretty much got it in a nutshell there. It’s been a driving force of what I’ve been doing for the past two years. It’s obviously really important to me to create my own character and try to do justice to his legacy by doing my best job and not copying his best job (which would just be crap), because he’s amazing at being Andy Whitfield and I’m not. I did the best I could with the tools I had at my disposal. Especially that last episode I was just sitting there thinking ‘God I hope he’s happy’ because it’s such a tragedy what happened and I shouldn’t even be here in so many ways but I guess you’ve gotta take the cards you’re dealt and all you can do is your best work. But especially that last episode I thought ‘I hope I can do justice for this thing he started’ cos the guy was just brilliant and I’m just looking after his stock while he’s not here.

I’m a pretty harsh critic of myself and this is the first time I’ve watched something that I’ve done and thought ‘cool, that’s actually good and I’m actually happy’ but it’s a gruelling thought to know that’s coming to an end, but I know he’s up there and life can just be a bit of a shit sometimes.

Obviously series get cancelled when ratings drop or various other reasons but are you surprised that Starz decided to end the show at the height of its popularity?

LM: I 100% agree with you. It’s a gutsy move from Starz to do that. We were as stunned as anyone and on the surface you’re going ‘Why would you do that?! it’s such a good show, going really well for you and really well for us and we’re really happy, love the characters….’ So on the surface you go ‘That’s crazy’ and the fan in me goes ‘I love watching Spartacus’ and now I’m in it I can’t say the same thing but I still love watching the show and I want to watch more of this story. I think episode 5 or 6 we’re going ‘Oh they’ll watch this and they’ll change their mind!’. 5 or 6 and I especially and I think everybody kind of started going ‘Oh, i get it’ otherwise every episode is going to be fight the Romans, run for the Romans talk about it then fight the Romans, run for the Romans talk about it and just repeat for three or four years and it would become stale. The way they’ve positioned it and the way Steven S. DeKnight has written it, it’s exciting every episode and it’s no-nonsense. Occasionally you feel like you’re rushing through one or two points but it’s certainly not dragging its feet at all.

I think when I watch this whole season back to back, it’ll really zip along  and feel like a satisfying watch as there’s no slow moments. Especially in the last three or four episodes, it’s just relentless. There’s so happening, so much story crucial stuff and so much action and it’s an exciting show. I guess around that time and as they wrapped the last episode I went ‘Goodness, you know what good on you for being so brave’ because while it’s sad to put to bed such an incredible character and a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s also kinda nice to do what they never do on television which his leave on top. You’re really going ‘This is the peak of our show and is as good as it’s ever been’ and we don’t want to even entertain the idea that it would not be as good next year. If we’ve done our job right fans will be furious that it’s finished!

HeyUGuys: Well we’re furious!

LM: I can feel the fury through the phone! [Laughs]

HeyUGuys: We spoke to Todd [Lasance] earlier in the week and know you guys live together, do you watch the shows together?

LM: We watched the last episode together and it wasn’t very manly! I was in sheets of tears and looked over at him be like *coughs, plutters and cries* so it has its drawbacks! It’s quite fun actually and quite weird living with the enemy like that, Caesar and Spartacus the original odd couple! But it’s great watching what is ultimately a year of very hard work with your co-star. Especially as we’re on different sides of the war for example you look at it from very different angels. Having not been a Roman, I don’t really know what goes on so I get to hear the stories, how they put it all together from their side of the war as it were, very literally. My experiences are very different to his as I was on the rebel side and they don’t cross over that much so it’s like we’re doing two different shows sometimes.

HeyUGuys: At the beginnig of the show, Spartacus is the good guy but do you think that’s changed over time?

LM: Well that’s one of the things I’ve loved about the show even from and especially from the Batiatus days and one of the things that I think Steven [S. DeKnight] does so well is that you don’t really hate those Romans. Ilithyia, Lucretia they’re all terrible people in their way but also trying to fight for their own piece of the world. Even Marcus Crassus (the richest man in Rome) is downtrodden by Pompeii and his legacy of the Senate not respecting him even though he’s the richest man in the world. Everyone has a reason to do the brilliant or despicable things that they do. And that’s why I love this season so much especially as rather than having it eluded to, you get a very literal sense of; here’s the rebels doing all these despicable things and Spartacus sitting back going ‘Wait a minute, what’s happened? What are we doing? Are we worse than the people that we seek to overthrow or escape from?’.  I was saying during the middle of the season that if the show was ‘Caesar’ or ‘Crassus’ you’d probably go for them. The rebels do things that are no less heinous but it’s because they’re the people whose story you’re behind so you go for them. You could very easily tilt the narrative and make it about this noble Caesar trying to put down this horrible slave rebellion and it would probably work just as well. I find the line that Steven DeKnight treads with his writing is something brilliant. It’s like a cool legacy of the show that I think since Spartacus (and we’re not the first to do it or anything) but I feel Spartacus has slight more complicated bad guys. Often you’d just play a villain but a lot of shows and modern television where a show like Breaking Bad where the lead guy is essentially selling crystal meth to children.

HeyUGuys: I guess like Game of Thrones, at the end of the day everyone wants to sit on that throne.

LM: Absolutely. You’ve got Joffrey who’s a straight up villain but so many other people who are not villains but it’s what you fight for an what you choose to fight for. I guess I play Spartacus so I set him on a higher moral compass or trajectory so that he’s the one who steps back and says ‘Wait a minute, this isn’t the way that we do this’ but where so many other characters who are in a lot of ways are no better (morally) than the Romans but you’re fighting for the right cause in the way that we’ve set it up so it’s just interesting writing.

HeyUGuys: We’ve just had episode nine here in the UK and for me the show came full circle where Spartacus is now forcing the Romans to fight in his arena. Is that how you saw it?

Yeah, that was one of those beautiful moments of history just being perfectly placed. Historically that’s the accounts of what happened (at least second accounts of what they say they did) and there’s something I guess quite poetic about it. For the story that we’ve told it’s lovely that they can go back to the arena that built the show but then turn it on its head and before the titanic-style ending where people kind of know where the history is going but are they going to mess with it? You know that it’s not going to be all good news in the last episode so it gave us a chance to have a little celebration before the immense battle that’s to come in episode 10.

HeyUGuys: When we spoke to Todd he mentioned that you found the way in which the script was written easy to pick up but do you struggle to remember the names of the characters?

LM: [Laughs] It’s funny I guess because language-wise, I did so much Shakespeare growing up through my twenties (not very well-paid Shakespeare but Shakespeare nonetheless!), so it became kind of second nature. For me at the start, Shakespeare was bloody hard in fact it was pretty much the first show I ever did was Shakespeare and by opening night i still didn’t know Act 5 (that’s how hard it was! – So that went well!) So I guess after 6, 7, 8, 9 years of that, the pseudo-Shakespeare that they enact in the show is not too tricky so you kind of know how they’re going to put their words together in a form but it makes sort of a sense I suppose.

The language seeps in. It may just be me but I’ve noticed so many people say ‘Apologies’ or ‘Gratitude’ back to me. I say it and it’s replaced boring words like ‘Sorry’ which was so last year!

When it comes to remembering names, I do keep a notebook for Game of Thrones! That’s a nightmare but it’s weird, I’ve worked out that I’m really good at remembering scripts (I have a terrible memory but I’m really good at remember scripts which is kind of handy being an actor)  so I’ve never had too much trouble with it. I knew a bit of Spartacus history so people like Caesar, Crassus, Spartacus, Crixus I never really had any trouble with. I guess if I were to name every single character from Gods of the Arena or Blood and Sand I’d probably struggle but  it’s not too many characters for me. I think if you chuck a few more key characters in there like Game of Thrones and I’d struggle a little bit.

HeyUGuys: What’s coming up next for you?

LM: Well I’ve tried out for something but I can’t say what yet but hopefully things will be signed this week. It’s a film role.

I’ve been amazingly fortunate in the last few years. To think about where I’ve come in the last couple of years if brain-bending because it’s like I’m a totally different person in some ways. I went from not being able to get an audition for a one day role on Neighbours (that you guys all love), and now im meeting the casting directors of my absolute dreams (Avy Kauffman) who basically cast everything I’ve ever liked and other people like that. I’ve been so lucky. I was also writing TV shows to pass the time when I was trying to become and actor and now people are saying ‘Oh, send it over and we’ll take a look at it’ and suddenly you’re in a different world of opportunity that I guess hard work eventually brings anyone of they really need something bad enough. I guess ten years of having nothing was long enough so I’m very lucky.

HeyUGuys: Well on behalf of everyone who reads HeyUGuys thank you for your role in Spartacus and although we’re sad to see the show end we’re very excited to see where your career goes from here.


Spartacus: War of the Damned and Spartacus: The Complete Collection come to DVD and Blu-ray on 29 April 2013