Spartacus Creator Steven S. DeKnight And Stars Talk War Of The Damned (Part 2)
Earlier, we posted the first part of the Spartacus: War of the Damned conference call that series creator Steven DeKnight and stars Liam McIntyre, Todd Lasance and Cynthia Addai-Robinson did with the press in anticipation to this Friday's premiere. Here's the second part of the interview.
As mentioned in Part 1 of the interview, there is some talk about how the series will end. It's vague and if you're familiar with Spartacus' story, it's not all that spoilery relatively speaking, but read on with that in mind.
Iíd like to follow-up a little bit about the vision that you had for this season. And now you mentioned the new show about how war changes people and maybe their religious beliefs. Youíve already hinted earlier that you wanted to make this one the bloodiest and give us some more good looking bodies like Todd. Did you want to show a little bit more? Because what Iíve seen so far of season 3, I see kindness and mercy but I also see insanity of the war. So do you basically already hint a little bit of what you make your next show? So what was your vision for this season?
Steven S. DeKnight: Something that was very important to me and Rob Tapert going into this season was not to shy away from the brutality of our heroes. That historically, actually historically it was much worse. The rebels broke out and basically raped, pillaged, and murdered their way across the land. So we always wanted to show that and to explore, you know, how that in a way the rebels are right in what theyíre doing. Theyíre lashing out at the society that tortured them, and murdered them. On the other hand, theyíre not lashing out at people that are guilty. The innocent get cut down just as much as the ones that perpetrated the crime. So itís a very grey area morally with what the rebels do.
And thereís a lot of discussion with Starz, and this discussion went all the way back to the first season when the rebels were breaking out of Batiatus' Ludus, the question came up, ďWell there are women in the ludus. Shouldnít they spare the women?Ē and Rob Tapert and I went, ďHell no. Of course they shouldnít spare the women.Ē These are the same women that were standing up on the balcony, you know, yelling for two gladiators to kill each other. So just because theyíre women, doesnít mean that theyíre forgiven for their crimes in our world. And that really carries through this season, to an extreme. We explore some pretty dark, brutal things that happened on the rebels side. That really make you question whether or not you want to be rooting for the rebels. Thereís a particular episode early on that is very, very brutal. Episode 3.
It also gets you an insight into why some of the characters are the way they are and what happened to them in the past. So we really wanted to explore that for this season and the war. And not to make it cut and dry, clean, here are the heroes and theyíre fighting the bad guys. I think thatís always, ultimately, unsatisfying. And something weíve always really, really pushed to do on Spartacus is to make you question our heroes and at a certain point, make you love our villains.
Liam McIntyre: And just around that framework that you talk about Crassus and his compassion for slavery. And his respect for Spartacus as a slave. While others in the Roman camp say he was just a slave, heís pretty good for just a slave. Heís got the sort of sense of compassion for slavery, or understanding of their plight. Whereas you juxtapose that against the newly free rebels who are not as compassionate shall we say.
Steven S. DeKnight: And I think you brought up something that is so important in this season. And something I wanted to make clear from the first episode of what makes Crassus different, unlike Glaber, unlike (Cassinius) and (Furious) who go after Spartacus that youíll see early on in this season. They donít, they always refer to Spartacus as that slave, that heís nothing but a slave.
Crassus looks at him completely differently. Part of that I think Crassus is exposed to his own slaves who are very well educated. And he looks, he doesnít look at Spartacus for what heís been branded. He looks at Spartacus for what heís done. And he sees that Spartacus is a brilliant tactician. And, you know, a man of keen intellect when it comes to battle. And he realizes that Spartacus will not be brought down with brute force. That to beat Spartacus, you have to play Spartacusí game better than he does. Which is very different than Glaber from last season. Crassus does not dismiss Spartacus. He realizes, you know, just how much of a threat he is. And how much of an opponent he is. And that kind of respect, I think, was really, really important. And it works the other way around too. Spartacus has a very begrudging respect for Crassus.
Liam McIntyre: I quickly realize that Iím up against something quite different that I havenít really seen before. Iíve been playing off the Roman idea that Iím no threat to them, Iím really just really good at what I do. And then all of a sudden someone comes along who knows how to think like I do and can sometimes outthink me. And it puts a real big spanner in the works, itís interesting.
Steven S. DeKnight: It does. Iím going to start using that phrase.
Liam McIntyre: Spanner in the works?
Steven S. DeKnight: Spanner in the works.
Steven mentioned Victory in the finale. I assume youíre done shooting. So youíve done, youíve shot the Spartacus death. Can you talk a little bit, he publically just admitted of crying, so what was the last day of shooting for your guys with the death. And is Spartacusí death the bloodiest that weíre going to see? Or is he going to beÖ
Liam McIntyre: Nobody said the word death now, easy darling.
Steven S. DeKnight: Hey now.
Well we were talking Titanic here.
Liam McIntyre: I know, you can justify this.
Steven S. DeKnight: Historically most people think Spartacus was crucified because thatís what happened in the Kurt Douglas movie. (Certainly) his body was never found. So we have some leeway. I canít say, you know, we stay pretty close to history. But there will be a few surprises in the end.
Well anyways, can the actors just in general talk about the last day of shooting? If it was a tearful day because they were saying goodbye to everybody else and stuff?
Todd Lasance: Can I just move in on the factÖ I was just going to say Liam, because he wonít talk about this, Liam gave the most incredibly humbled, beautiful speech Iíve ever witnessed. Out of any production Iíve ever worked on. We all came in for his last day and we got to see his final moment, which was a battle scene. And seriously it was incredible to be there. Everyone was just, yeah, in tears. There was a lot of emotion. And Liam being the most humble person I think Iíve ever met. Gave the most beautiful speech, talking about thanking everyone else, and talking about everyone else, and what the production gave for him. Didnít mention himself once. So for me, as an actor coming into the show just in the final season, it was a beautiful moment to see him not only finish, but also give an incredible speech. So thatís my perspective on it.
Liam McIntyre: Thanks, thatís sweet. The thing is, I think the actors and the crew, everybody who was involved with this to a man, to a woman. We can probably all agree that it fundamentally changed our lives in some way this experience. Two years ago I donít even know, Iím almost a completely different person to who I was two years ago. And itís an almost completely due to Spartacus. Spartacus is just one of those things that happens to very lucky people.
Cynthia Addai-Robinson: I was just going to add on top of this too. As far as the work experience and working in New Zealand, a lot of us were very far from home. And so weíre sort of working in this bubble and we became sort of a mini family. We all sort of lived close to one another, you know weíre seeing each other for very long shoot days. So you get really used to it, and you realize as youíre wrapping up a show and a series, youíre also wrapping up your time in a really beautiful place with really beautiful people. So I think, you know, all of us were really trying to be excited about going back to all of our respective homes. But it was also very bitter sweet in saying goodbye to a lot of the wonderful crew and other people that are based in New Zealand.
Liam McIntyre: Yeah, itís quite funny. I remember when I got the job one of the things that (unintelligible) said to me was (unintelligible) like a family. And it will be like being part of a family. And he was unbelievably right. Youíre right, it was just hard. Not only was that the most grueling and exhausting experience of my entire life, (unintelligible) demanding so much of every actor that was in it. But, yeah, at the same time you were saying goodbye to a family. It was hard, very hard.
We talked so much about Spartacus versus Caesar, what about Liam versus Todd? Who would actually win in real life? And for Steven, did you ever count how many buckets of blood have been used through all these seasons of Spartacus?
Steven S. DeKnight: No, I lost count. Too many pools of blood that we use.
Todd Lasance: I read like 300, what do you guys have gallons? Of blood.
Steven S. DeKnight: Yeah, it was a lot. A lot of people donít realize we use a lot of CG effects. But a lot of the CG blood effects, is actual real fake blood. That we explode, and push, and cut.
Liam McIntyre: If I donít see another blood balloon, Iíll be so happy.
Steven S. DeKnight: We have these blood balloons and we shoot them against a green screen. Usually with the actors smacking the shit out of them.
Liam McIntyre: Itís actually fun.
Steven S. DeKnight: I think we should have in the Spartacus box set, just one blooper reel of all the blood bad stuff Öwhat I love about when the actors miss with these blood bags is just how hard on themselves they are. You can see how upset they are that they missed that.
Liam McIntyre: Thatís because we have Al Poppleton sitting there next to us going, ďMate, be less shit. Be less shit and do it right this time.Ē
Youíre going to have to play Bond next time so you can wear a tuxedo right?
Liam McIntyre: That would be amazing. Oh my God. I once had all of my legs, well not all of my legs, all of my limbs stuck together with blood. Because I was covered in so much blood that I couldnít actually separate my body from the blood.
And Liam versus Todd? Who would win honestly?
Liam McIntyre: Oh Todd is brutal, heís built like one of those Michelangelo statues that you get in Rome. ItísÖ
Todd Lasance: No mate, I stopped working out a little bit. I finished that training regime.
Liam McIntyre: Thatís hilarious, you stopped training. Iím sorry but youíre just built like no other human being can be built.
Todd Lasance: We would just hug it out. Thatís the thing, no fighting.
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