Starz has cast Australian film and TV actor Liam McIntyre to play the title role in the second season of Spartacus.
McIntyre, who has appeared in such Australian series as Neighbours and Rush, was also part HBO miniseries The Pacific. Having recently completed his first feature starring role in the independent film Frozen Moments, McIntyre is currently in New Zealand, getting himself into gladiator shape in order to take on that role previously held by Andy Whitfield in the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
Whitfield had a recurrence of cancer last fall. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in March, while preparing for the show's second season. Production on the new campaign is scheduled to start this spring in New Zealand
"Since no one can really replace Andy, we realized that we should instead find an actor who can truly lead ‘Spartacus' forward," said Starz, LLC president and CEO Chris Albrecht in announcing the casting decision. "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."
Albrecht told pundits at Starz's Jan. 7 session at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that the premium network was going ahead with the show.
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 a hit for Starz in 2010. During the second season, Spartacus and his fellow gladiators are 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, is scheduled to debut on Jan. 21 at 10 p.m. (et/pt)
Dustin Clare, as the charismatic and self-destructive gladiator Gannicus, joins Hannah, Lawless, Mensah and Bennett in the event series.