TRADING SWORDS FOR SUITS. Australian actor Liam McIntyre stepped into the role of Spartacus in the hit action drama of the same name and made the character his own. Now that he has finished filming the show’s final season, he talks to DA MAN about his gladiator workouts, how tough his last day was and what his next battle will be. By Anand Mathai
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Liam McIntyre started “Spartacus“ with some big sandals to fill. He took on the role of the historical warrior in the acclaimed Starz action-drama during the show’s second proper season after former series lead Andy Whitfield tragically passed away due to cancer. As his first major role, fans of the series worried whether McIntyre had what it would take to step into the role. News that Whitfield blessed the casting of a new lead helped, but McIntyre was able to win over fans and critics alike with a strong performance that was true to the character his predecessor had created without coming of as imitation. The show is currently in its third and final season, subtitled “War of the Damned,” which has been hailed by reviewers for its powerful storytelling, deep characters and beautifully grim atmosphere.
DA MAN: You have described feeling a bit like Spartacus yourself when you started on Season 2, in that you felt like you had to earn the trust and respect of your fellow actors in order to lead them. How did it feel coming back for season 3?
Liam McIntyre: Well I guess not dissimilar. As opposed to winning people over, proving myself and trying to lead last year (and honor the fallen, which hasn’t changed this year!), this year I was the leader, and I knew we were headed for the end, and so I did my best to lead by example, push myself to the limit, as far as I could go, and help motivate everyone to do the best damn job they could do. But I have to tell you, they didn’t need much motivation, I’ve never seen a harder working, more talented group of people in all my life!
DA MAN: How grueling was your workout regimen for the show? Now that the show is done filming, are you trying to keep up the gladiator physique?
Liam McIntyre: I made a promise to myself and with my trainer on the show, Tyrone Bell, that we were going to train every week, without fail. In Vengeance [the show’s second season] that meant five times a week, plus cycling in the mornings. War of the Damned had an even more difficult schedule, so it was 3–4 times a week, after filming, as hard as we could go, plus cycling in the morning. It wasn’t easy, but when you make that promise and commitment, you have to do it. I’m glad I did. I’m definitely trying to keep it up – we worked too hard to get it to let it go now!
Jacket by Bally
DA MAN: What is the craziest or most physically demanding stunt you ever did for the show?
Liam McIntyre: Just one? Jumping off a ledge two stories up and ‘riding a wall’ down to the ground. Getting knocked off a horse and rolling into a fight. Doing a ‘Hurricarana’ —Google it — while running at full speed… There are too many to name!
DA MAN: This season of Spartacus has been especially dark. How did you guys keep things from getting too grim on the set?
Liam McIntyre: Haha. No we were moping around every day, no fun at all. Of course not! There was such a great air of camaraderie on set with the other performers and crew, that we had a lot of fun. I think it helped with energy levels so that when things had to get really heavy—which, okay, was quite a lot—it made it easier to go to those places, because you knew your buddies were there to help pull you out again. And of course we had Dustin Clare on set. The number one prankster. I personally hope they make a DVD special features of just him playing jokes on people. It’d go for hours and never be boring.
DA MAN: A lot of Spartacus is filmed in front of green screen. How hard was it to get used to that at first and how comfortable are you with it now?
Liam McIntyre: Almost everything is green screen in some way. I actually love it. It’s, in a weird way, a bit like a fusion of Theatre and Film. You have these incredible costumes, amazing sets and a wonderful script to work with, but then there’s a lot of ‘the world’ left to your imagination. Like in theatre where half your world is a crowd looking back, you have to use your imagination, and in a strange way, for me, that’s quite freeing. So it didn’t feel too strange for me at all.