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It’s not all that surprising to hear that Starz is currently toying with the idea of re-casting the role of Spartacus for the second (non-prequel) season of their original drama series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The question is, is recast the best way to go?
The Hollywood Reporter posted the news today, stating that Starz is “exploring the option to recast,” in the wake of Andy Whitfield having to leave the show in order to undergo cancer treatment. The network is currently in talks with casting directors and looking to start auditioning actors for the role.
I doubt I’m alone in having a hard time picturing Spartacus played by any one other than Whitfield, but the alternatives, as pointed out in the Reporter’s article, aren’t all that appealing either. If Starz can’t find a suitable replacement for Whitfield, they can opt to delay or cancel the series entirely. A delay wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if it meant Whitfield could come back, but this could be at the expense of some of the other actors, who might accept other offers in the interim that would result in them being unavailable to return to Spartacus when the time comes.
Is a recast worse than a delay that results in the loss of someone like Manu Bennett (Crixus), or Viva Bianca (Ilithya)? Without the guaranty of Whitfield’s return, I’m not so sure.
Another option is for the series to focus on a new central character, which sounds similar to what they’ve done with the prequel series as far as finding a way to fill out the story without the title character. While Gods of the Arena sounds like it’ll be great, I’m not sure the show will thrive if it completely moves away from Spartacus’ story at this point. Still, it’s an option and a viable alternative (especially if they can’t find someone capable of filling Whitfield’s shoes).
On the positive side, no matter what happens, it seems Whitfield will still be involved in the show in some respect. According to the Reporter:
“Even if the second season begins shooting without Whitfield as Spartacus, producers are searching for some way to have the actor remained involved in the show. Any credit will also ensure that Whitfield remains an employed member of the production.”
What do you think? Is a recast the way to go? Would you be ok if the series continued and followed another character, like Crixus for example? Or do you think they should delay it and if Whitfield can’t return, cancel it completely?