'Spartacus' Star Liam McIntyre Describes What He Took From Andy Whitfield's Performance

While bringing his own take on the gladiator, the actor tells THR there were choices his predecessor made that he wanted to preserve.

After a two-year wait, Starz premiered the second season of its original gladiator series, Spartacus: Vengeance, on Friday. And it introduced Liam McIntyre, who picked up the title role after star Andy Whitfield dropped out to battle lymphoma. He died from the disease in September.

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“We really wanted to make sure that we found the right guy to accept the mantle from Andy,” series creator Steven DeKnight tells The Hollywood Reporter. “So, we looked high and low. We looked all over the world for the right guy and when Liam auditioned, we all really liked his acting, but he had lost like 40 pounds for a role he had just done. So, he looked on the verge of keeling over. So, that was kind of an iffy prospect.”

So while McIntyre had the acting chops, that wasn’t enough for the role of Spartacus. He had to prove that he could take on the physicality of the character, as well.”

“We had to put him on a physical fitness retainer for three and a half months to go off and work out nonstop, constantly to put the weight back on and bulk up,” DeKnight says. “So it was a very, very, very long grueling audition process for him.  But he did a great job.”

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An immense fan of the show already, McIntyre knew the gravity of his casting for the role and seemed driven by his sheer desire to please not only the production but fellow fans. And while the producers and cast members like to say that McIntyre brings his own portrayal of the hero to the role, that’s really only part of the story. McIntyre admits that he tried his best to incorporate aspects of Whitfield’s portrayal into his – which actually played into the Australian actor’s strengths.

“The thing that appealed to me as an actor and just as a viewer of the show was the way Andy captured Spartacus' humanity, as a human being,” McIntyre tells THR. “More basic than that, the general Roman accent is British, that proper British, in so many shows. With Spartacus being from Thrace, I liked that Andy kind of roughed it up with a kind of a little bit of an Australian accent in that British accent.”

“I thought it gave it a regional quality and even though I didn't want to copy his voice, I liked the choice he made for his accent,” he continues. “The way he portrayed the accent, I kind of went for that. As far as a performance level, I didn't want to copy him but I wanted to get the same spirit of Spartacus.”

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Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro