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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.
I’d 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. You’ve 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 I’ve 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 they’re doing. They’re lashing out at the society that tortured them, and murdered them. On the other hand, they’re not lashing out at people that are guilty. The innocent get cut down just as much as the ones that perpetrated the crime. So it’s a very grey area morally with what the rebels do.
And there’s 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, “Well there are women in the ludus. Shouldn’t they spare the women?” and Rob Tapert and I went, “Hell no. Of course they shouldn’t spare the women.” 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 they’re women, doesn’t mean that they’re 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. There’s 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 they’re fighting the bad guys. I think that’s always, ultimately, unsatisfying. And something we’ve 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, he’s pretty good for just a slave. He’s 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 you’ll see early on in this season. They don’t, they always refer to Spartacus as that slave, that he’s 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 doesn’t look at Spartacus for what he’s been branded. He looks at Spartacus for what he’s 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 Spartacus’ 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 I’m up against something quite different that I haven’t really seen before. I’ve been playing off the Roman idea that I’m no threat to them, I’m 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, it’s interesting.
Steven S. DeKnight: It does. I’m 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 you’re done shooting. So you’ve done, you’ve 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 Spartacus’ death the bloodiest that we’re going to see? Or is he going to be…
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 that’s what happened in the Kurt Douglas movie. (Certainly) his body was never found. So we have some leeway. I can’t 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 fact… I was just going to say Liam, because he won’t talk about this, Liam gave the most incredibly humbled, beautiful speech I’ve ever witnessed. Out of any production I’ve 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 I’ve ever met. Gave the most beautiful speech, talking about thanking everyone else, and talking about everyone else, and what the production gave for him. Didn’t 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 that’s my perspective on it.
Liam McIntyre: Thanks, that’s 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 don’t even know, I’m almost a completely different person to who I was two years ago. And it’s 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 we’re 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 we’re seeing each other for very long shoot days. So you get really used to it, and you realize as you’re wrapping up a show and a series, you’re 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, it’s 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. You’re 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 don’t 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 don’t see another blood balloon, I’ll 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: It’s 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 …what 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: That’s because we have Al Poppleton sitting there next to us going, “Mate, be less shit. Be less shit and do it right this time.”
You’re 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 couldn’t actually separate my body from the blood.
And Liam versus Todd? Who would win honestly?
Liam McIntyre: Oh Todd is brutal, he’s built like one of those Michelangelo statues that you get in Rome. It’s…
Todd Lasance: No mate, I stopped working out a little bit. I finished that training regime.
Liam McIntyre: That’s hilarious, you stopped training. I’m sorry but you’re just built like no other human being can be built.
Todd Lasance: We would just hug it out. That’s the thing, no fighting.
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