Spartacus: War of the Damned will unfortunately be the final season of the Starz drama series, but I refuse to dwell on the approaching conclusion of the series as I wait for the SDCC panel to get underway. Series creator Steven S. DeKnight will be here to discuss the show, along with Liam McIntyre (Spartacus) and Manu Bennett (Crixus).
I'll be live-blogging the panel, which will have Bennett, McIntyre and DeKnight discussing the upcoming season, as well as the Spartacus: Vengeance DVD bonus features, and I'll also fill you in on what they show us from the promised footage from War of the Damned.
Starts with a trailer. Lots of battle scenes. Spartacus doesn't want to underestimate their opponent. That's a Roman trait. Much of the video focused on the violence, and it ends with an excellent bit of sword-slashing. Hopefully we'll be able to share the video with you soon.
5:48 p.m. - Steven DeKnight, Liam McIntyre and Manu Bennett are on stage. DeKnight talking about this being the final season. Wants this to be the biggest, most insanely epic season that they could. Bennett says boot camp is painful and fantastic. They get together as a group. It's about fitness and training and getting their bodies up to pace. Physical activity is quite demanding, but they work as a group and a team. Tug of war or helping each other do cross-training courses. By the time they hit the camera, they're already training like a team.
5:51 - DeKnight talking about sticking the landing. A lot of pressure to get the ending right. McIntyre talking about the show's unique legacy. They want to do justice to that in the final season. There's so much to tell as far as the story. Bennett talking about the characters. We learn to love the bad guys. They know the fans care about the characters. Bennett says he enjoys watching the emotional story lines grow.
5:53 - McIntyre is very excited about Marcus Crassus. He has really good things to say about Simon, the man who plays him. Crassus and Spartacus have this "little chess battle" with each color. McIntyre says they ran out of blood last season.
5:55 - Worth mentioning that Liam and Manu seem to get along great. DeKnight is now talking about the show being "historically adjacent." Events are going to be compressed this season. Things more or less happened in history but they had to be squeezed together and moved around. DeKnight jokes that Spartacus' real name is "Bob."
5:56 - Fan questions: Asking Liam how it was to follow Andy Whitfield. Liam says he didn't try to follow Andy's amazing performance. He asks for some applause for Andy. The crowd gets to their feet and applauds. Manu is now talking about "Be Here Now." Andy had those words tattooed on him and that's the title of the documentary being made about Andy.
5:59 - DeKnight describes his new series in development Incursion as "Band of Brothers meets Halo" R-rated military. Sounds like there a spinoff/sequel series for Spartacus could happen (nothing sounds certain but sounds like there's a possibility of it at some point.)
6:02 - A fan says he finds the show inspiring because every time he watches it, he wants to do sit-ups. That gets a laugh. He asks about the "I am Spartacus" scene. DeKnight says not that we saw it in the movie but they may "tip their hat" to it.
6:04 - Fan asks about the decision to kill of Oenomaus. DeKnight says historically Oenomaus dies first and it felt right to have him die in Gannicus' arms.
6:05 - DeKnight says one of his favorite scene (and it's a scene he gets the most complaints about) is Varro's death. He says he thinks it was really well directed and well played. Then he makes a joke about Manu. The topic of Manu's incredible physique seems to keep coming up.
6:07 - A fan thanks them for the show, which gives her husband and her a lot of "bonding time."
6:09 - Manu talking about the people who've left the show. Everyone says they missed people on set when they've left it. Manu showing part of a ritual they do (didn't catch what they call it but it sounds like it's part of training), which from what he showed us, involves the leader screaming. He pulled up his shirt and the crowd went crazy.
6:11 - The crowd also went crazy when Lucy Lawless arrived! What an excellent surprise! Lawless says the show helped rebrand her. Manu Bennett talking about the human nature of the show. He lost his mother and brother in a car accident when he was young. He tries to play his roles honestly as a tribute to his mother and brother.
6:14 - Fan asks Lucy about last season. Lucy says Lucretia might have been a bit nuts at the beginning. She asked DeKnight if Lucretia was really crazy. He said she's "criminally insane" (the finale definitely proved that!). McIntyre tells her she's amazing.
6:15 - DeKnight says Mira is the last nail in Spartacus' emotional coffin. He's going from sad-Spartacus to emotionally-unavailable. McIntyre says "It's complicated" for Spartacus' "Face-Tablet."
6:17 - Manu gave Spartacus a kiss on the cheek (or possibly his neck) at DeKnight's suggestion. Lawless is now talking about John Hannah once falling out of his "sock" (for one of the naked scenes). Apparently Hannah wasn't phased. He tucked himself back in and moved on. McIntyre said he wonders what the boom operator feels like having to look at his butt for hours and hours. A fan calls out "I'll do it!"
6:20 - Bennett says there are incredible post-production people over in New Zealand. They've done Lord of the Rings. And there's another surprise! The cast is here, including some of the former cast members (Nick Tarabey, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Viva Bianca, Peter Mensah and Katrina Law)! Everyone was on their feet cheering for them.
6:24 - Bennett talking about injuries. Sounds like they're common (not surprising!) McIntyre talking about his trainer getting hit in the face with a shield. McIntyre talking about how hard his stunt-double works.
6:26 - Fan asking about Agron and Nasir. DeKnight says they approach sexuality all the same (man/woman, man/man, etc). They wanted to show the relationship from the very beginning with Agron and Nasir. We'll be seeing a lot more of them in the new season. Lawless says the actors are "so heterosexual." McIntyre agrees, saying they are pretty "blokey guys."
6:27 - Lawless talking about what Lucretia went through with Ashur. Talking about Lucretia's rationale for not killing him, because she had other plans. She says it was challenging as an actor. Nick Tarabey says the Ashur/Lucretia scenes were tremendously challenging. He said Lawless was amazing.
6:30 - Fan asking why Ashur didn't fight Crixus and instead fought Naevia. Nick says he didn't have a choice. Said Cynthia did an amazing job. "As much as I hated her killing me..." he said, but went on to say that she was good. Cynthia says she hated to kill off Ashur but it was a huge part of the finale and she was honored to be a part of it.
6:34 - They're talking about the deaths and all of the beatings they took. The fake blood apparently turns to glue and "rips your skin off." Viva Bianca talking about her final scene. Producers said she didn't look dead enough. They had to reshoot it. Sounds like she had a miserable time shooting that scene. Lawless says it was a beautiful death for Ilythia. Bianca confirms that she is actually dead. Lawless follows this up with a laugh, saying "...inside." Craig Parker talks about the idea of his character coming back, joking that Glaber was a sword-swallower. Peter Mensah thanks DeKnight for the way Oenomaus went (saving his best friend and thinking about being with his wife.)
6:38 - Jenna Busch (moderator) comments on the kick-ass chicks in the show. DeKnight says he came from the "Joss Whedon camp" where there are a lot of strong female characters. He calls Lawless and Bianca's performances brilliant and phenomenal. He says it was a joy to write for them. And they're showing us the trailer again!
That wraps up the panel! Great to see the departed cast members on stage one last time and from the trailer, it looks like War of the Damned may be epic. Can't wait for January!