When it was revealed that Andy Whitfield had to drop out of the Spartacus series due to his battle with cancer, there was concern that the TV show would be cancelled. Starz had to make a difficult decision; wait and hope that Whitfield’s health would improve and allow him to return to the physically taxing role, cancel the series, or recast the role. Considering the show’s popularity, it’s not surprising that they opted for the latter. Spartacus will indeed continue with a new actor, Liam McIntyre, in the lead role.
Here’s a press release from Starz…
LIAM MCINTYRE CHOSEN TO PLAY TITLE ROLE IN NEW “SPARTACUS”
Australian Actor Picked to Topline Hit Series for Starz
Production of Season 2 Is Set to Begin in New Zealand by Spring 2011
Beverly Hills, CA – Jan. 17, 2011 – 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.”
Liam McIntyre made his mark in his native Australia on such series as “Neighbours,” and “Rush.” He also appeared in the HBO mini-series “The Pacific.” He 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 iconic role. Production on the series is slated to resume by Spring of 2011.
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.
About Starz Entertainment
Starz Entertainment, LLC, is a premium movie and original programming entertainment service provider operating in the United States. The company offers 16 premium channels including the flagship Starz? and Encore? brands with approximately 17.4 million and 32 million subscribers respectively. Starz Entertainment airs in total more than 1,000 movies and original series every month across its pay TV channels. Starz Entertainment is recognized as a pay TV leader in providing HD, On Demand, HD On Demand and online advanced services for its Starz, Encore and MoviePlex brands. Starz Entertainment (www.starz.com) is an operating unit of Starz, LLC, which is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation and is attributed to the Liberty Starz tracking stock group (NASDAQ: LSTZA).
What do you think? Will you watch the new Spartacus? Did they make the right decision?