“Spartacus: Gods of the Area” on STARZ

Spartacus: Gods of the Area on STARZ

Lucy Lawless is Back for the Prequel and Spartacus Season 2

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At the end of the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, on the Starz Network, it looked like a bloody end to the shameless scheming of the salacious couple of Batiatus and Lucretia, played by John Hannah and Lucy Lawless. Batiatus seemed to loose his head, and Lucretia was morally wounded. But maybe not!

There will be a second season next year to find out how Lucretia comes back from the brink. But before that, fans can enjoy the prequel to the Spartacus saga, called Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Now airing on Starz, the six-episode series chronicles the brazen life at the House of Batiatus, prior to Spartacus’ appearance at the gladiator training quarters.

Lawless says the flashback shows will show “things you’ve never seen, and I don’t just mean me. It has all the action, treachery, and all the seven deadly sins on display to delight everyone who wants it.”

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The look back was made necessary because Andy Whitfield, who played Spartacus magnificently the first season, is battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Whitfield is undergoing treatment and has given his blessing to the recasting of Spartacus (with Liam McIntyre), so the show can carry on.

Lawless says she’s been in touch with Whitfield, and reports that he is responding well to chemotherapy. “We love him. And Andy is putting his health and his family first. That is more important than anything.”

For the prequel, right now Lawless is enjoying seeing the backstory to her character unfold. She says, “It was a rare pleasure to go back. That never happens where you get to go back and fill in blanks and actually find out more about your own character. It was a huge thrill for me. And you get to see our characters, Lucretia and Batiatus when they are in the honeymoon phase of their lives.”

With the story flashing back in time, Lawless says she had fun “playing years younger” than her character was last season. To look younger, the gorgeous Lawless, at 42, laughingly says they fix her up in post-production. But playing the younger character in front of the cameras, she had to give her performance a fresh attitude.

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“My character certainly was sort of a bit more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before her rotten college mate– that’s Gaia played by Jaime Murray. She came back and taught her all these bad tricks. But my character did not abuse the servants in the beginning. And she was devoted to her husband. So you get to see ‘the raw Satan,’ and that’s always fun to play.”

She reveals that she got to smile more, as well as cry a bit.

Executive producer Steven DeKnight (along with executive producer Rob Tapert, who is married to Lucy Lawless) is happy to bring Lucretia and Batiatus back together for the prequel, since the characters are fan favorites, and there was an uproar when they were “apparently” killed off in the season finale.

DeKnight says, “I remember when we made that decision. I got a call from Rob saying Starz really loves John (Hannah) and Lucy, as did we all. John obviously got his head almost completely severed, so there wasn’t any way we could bring him back. But what (Starz) wanted to know was there any way we could bring back Lucretia, and I said, ‘Absolutely not. No, she has to die. There is no way she could survive.’”

Then DeKnight says he called Tapert the next morning and said he had an idea for season two to bring Lucy back. “And it’s been a thrill to do that. What we have planned for Lucretia in season two makes season one and the prequel pale in comparison.”

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Why does Starz’s incarnation of Spartacus have such a broad appeal? DeKnight explains, “It’s a timeless story of the downtrodden and justice. And also, who doesn’t like a lot of backstabbing and intrigue, and a good sword fight every now and then.”

Basically, DeKnight says it’s about sex and violence, and the production has no intention of trying to water it down and pander to a mass market. The creative team on the show has actually enjoyed coming up with a lot of inventive and gruesome ways to kill gladiators and various other people.

DeKnight says, “The special effects makeup for the prequel is just phenomenal. There’s some deaths that are so incredible. You just have to rewind and watch them again, because you can’t believe what you just saw. Rob and his team have definitely managed to up the ante. And I was stunned by how great some of this stuff looks.”

Tune in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena on Starz.


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who have written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 30 years.

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