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Australian Actor Chosen as Next 'Spartacus' Star

by Maureen Ryan, posted Jan 17th 2011 3:20PM
Australian actor Liam McIntyre will star in the second season of 'Spartacus,' which will be filmed this spring in New Zealand.

Starz issued a press release moments ago confirming McIntyre as the man who will replace Andy Whitfield in the title role of the gladiator series.

"Since no one can really replace Andy, we realized that we should instead find an actor who can truly lead 'Spartacus' forward," Starz president Chris Albrecht said in a statement from the network. "It was important to us to have Andy endorse the idea of recasting this part, which he did in the same heroic manner that he's dealt with his whole ordeal. And that, coupled with our fortune in finding a young actor with the gladiator credentials and the acting ability of Liam, makes it easier for us to keep this hit franchise going."

In a recent interview, 'Spartacus' creator Steven DeKnight talked about the search for an actor who could take over an iconic role that Whitfield had made his own.

"We're not trying to find an Andy clone," DeKnight noted. "We're trying to find someone who embodies everything that we think the character needs, which is that feeling of manliness and authority, but also deep compassion and sympathy. That's what we're looking for, and it's a tall order to fill. I'm sure it's going to take the audience a few episodes to get behind anybody we cast."

A prequel season, 'Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,' which will focus on a gladiator named Gannicus and chronicle the rise of gladiator owner Batiatus, will begin airing on Starz Jan. 21. I'll have more on 'Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,' including thoughts from stars Peter Mensah and John Hannah, later in the week.

The second full season of 'Spartacus' is not expected to air until early 2012.

Here is Starz's complete press release:

Australian film and TV actor Liam McIntyre has excelled at a grueling and rigorous audition process to claim the title role in the second season of Starz' hit franchise, "Spartacus," Starz, LLC, President and CEO Chris Albrecht announced today.

McIntyre takes over the role of the Thracian warrior sold into slavery in the Roman Republic city of Capua – where he rises to become the champion of the city – before leading the slave revolt that ended Season 1. The part was played in the first season of "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" by Andy Whitfield, who was forced to leave the show in order due to health issues. Whitfield gave his blessing to the recasting.

"Since no one can really replace Andy, we realized that we should instead find an actor who can truly lead 'Spartacus' forward," Albrecht notes. "It was important to us to have Andy endorse the idea of recasting this part, which he did in the same heroic manner that he's dealt with his whole ordeal. And that, coupled with our fortune in finding a young actor with the gladiator credentials and the acting ability of Liam, makes it easier for us to keep this hit franchise going."

From the time "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" debuted on Starz in January, 2010, it established itself as an epic production with rich storytelling and visuals unlike anything seen previously on any TV show. Audiences responded immediately, making it the most-watched premiere in Starz' history, and making the show the most watched cable program on nearly two-thirds of the Fridays it aired original episodes.

Also starring John Hannah as Batiatus, Lucy Lawless as Lucretia, Peter Mensah as Doctore, Manu Bennett as Crixus and Viva Bianca as Ilythia, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" was one of the most talked-about and best-loved TV shows of 2010. Season 2 of the series finds Spartacus and his fellow gladiators now out of Capua and engaged in the massive slave rebellion against Roman society that has echoed through time.

"Spartacus: Gods of the Arena," a six-part prequel that tells the story of the House of Batiatus gladiator school, and the intricate personal, sexual and political maneuverings in Capua five years before "Blood and Sand" was set, debuts at 10 p.m. et/pt on Friday, Jan. 21. Dustin Clare, as the charismatic and self-destructive gladiator Gannicus, joins Hannah, Lawless, Mensah and Bennett in the event series.


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