Andy Whitfield had not passed away yet when Liam McIntyre took over the role of Spartacus. McIntyre met the Television Critics Association last summer to introduce himself as the new Spartacus and I asked him several questions then. Spartacus: Vengeance returned to the TCA in January and I had to ask him the difficult question. That question is from January, the rest were from last summer.
Crave Online: I have to ask the difficult question. Were you working the day Andy passed away? Did you still have scenes to do that day and how did you get through that time?
Liam McIntyre: It's probably the saddest thing I've ever had to be part of. From the start, I think I was able to tackle the role because I knew he'd get better. I made that decision for myself. I was just sure, you know. He had made this choice to get better, and that was fantastic. And I've never seen a sadder person than the producer that had to come down and actually pass that news on to what is really a family.
When Andy sent an email to me in correspondence early on, he said, "It's like a family there." And you can't imagine how sad that day was but part of the triumph of the team, and it was coming together after a little bit of downtime to say, "We owe Andy the respect to do this job as best we can. Let's come together, and let's do the best damn show we can." And we pulled ourselves together, and we did excellent work until the end of the season, that you know, what else can you do. Right?
Crave Online: Once you’ve done a few episodes, do all those crazy kills become old hat?
Liam McIntyre: They always find a way. Every episode I do things I’ve never done before and I have to do them quickly.
Crave Online: What workout did you have to do to become Spartacus?
Liam McIntyre: Very difficult. I was never an expert. I can whip up the best protein shake you’ve ever had now which is a handy life skill that I didn’t think I’d need at one stage.
Crave Online: What’s your recipe?
Liam McIntyre: Oh no, I’ll save that for a book one day. I’ll hold onto that one. I know every type of exercise regime there is I think now. They started me on a bulking exercise thing which was all about bodybuilding. It’s 90% diet, then it’s training. You eat well, your body does the rest. If you don’t eat well, it doesn’t work. So it was all about heavy weight lifting and then it became three or so months of boot camp style training. At one stage when it was getting closer to getting the role, the whole time Starz brought me to New Zealand to train me with the guys who trained me in sword fighting. That was well before they ended up deciding whether or not I’d get the role. Later on they sent an ex-military Australian down and there were two days where the head stunt guy I’m pretty much sure had told this ex-military trainer, “See where he breaks.” Fortunately it must’ve been far enough along the line that they thought maybe this guy can do it. They were tough times.
Crave Online: Do you ever look at the Kubrick film for inspiration?
Liam McIntyre: Yeah, how good is it though? It’s a different time. In the world that we live in, that film is almost slow but it’s so grand. You watch that film and the scope is so broad. There’s a scene where there’s literally probably 50,000 extras. It boggles the mind. We’ve got ways to achieve that in a different way now but ours is very visceral and in your face in a way that is very exciting, but I’d like to think it carries the same heavy story with it.