No show has epitomised “shock and awe” the way Spartacus has. Since the premiere
episode of the gladiator drama, which seemed to imitate the stylistic violence of Zack
Snyder´s 300, the series has instead surprised many by the depth of its discussion on the
vastness of the human experience in the face of extreme physical and emotional pressure.
Carrying this heavy burden of such a portrayal was the late Andy Whitfield, who died in
September last year at the age of 39 from a rare blood cancer. In the first season’s titular
role, Whitfield´s performance was a tour de force of gravitas – a truly moving depiction of
a good man’s dark descent into vengeance. His sudden illness and subsequent death shocked
many, including myself, who found it hard to imagine anyone else inhabiting the role with
the same humanity Whitfield displayed.
Singapore’s intrepid geek reporter Nicholas Yong therefore found himself asking the same
questions of the man who would eventually be given the uneviable task of succeeding
Whitfield and making the role of Spartacus his own – 30-year-old Liam McIntyre.
I imagine the answers came more easily to McIntyre by now – while the sequel Spartacus:
Vengeance will only be premiering tonight on Max (StarHub Channel 611) – the season has
actually already ended months ago in the US, and McIntyre would probably have fielded such
questions dozens of times to the international media.
Without a doubt, those answers are also tinged with huge relief. Though obviously still finding his way around the role in the initial episodes, McIntyre quickly developed his vision of Spartacus into a familiar yet distinct character, retaining most of Whitfield’s portrayal without, in his own words, coming across as a “pale impersonation”.
Admittedly, the realisation that a couple of scenes from the first season were reshot to replace Whitfield with McIntyre was a hard pill to swallow. However, by the end of the series, there was no doubt in the minds of most fans, myself included, that McIntyre had earned the role and cemented his legacy as we look forward to the third and final season, titled Spartacus: War of the Damned next year.
The interview itself dealt predominantly with McIntyre’s thoughts on his predecessor, whom he describes as an “amazing actor”, without really going much into his own process of portraying a Spartacus who, having exacted bloody vengeance on his manipulative owner Batius for the death of his wife at the end of the first season, now leads a small army against the Roman commander who captured him and his wife in the first place, setting them down this violent spiral in the first place.
That being said, the interview naturally reveals none of the twists and turns that Spartacus: Vengeance will develop. Instead, the show’s executive producer Steven S. DeKnight provides a little insight into the vision of said final season – describing it simply as “massively epic”. Based on what we’ve seen thus far from the initial season Blood and Sand, the prequel Gods of the Arena, and now Vengeance, to describe War of the Damned as “massively epic” isn’t a boast, it’s a promise.
Catch the premiere of Spartacus: Vengeance (less most of the gore, the nudity and the homosexual content, undoubtedly) tonight, 10pm on Max (StarHub Channel 611)!