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It was this time last year at San Diego Comic-Con when Andy Whitfield and the producers of Spartacus heralded his return to the role after fighting cancer. Yet, now we have a new leading man in Australian actor, Liam McIntyre.
“When we were here last time, the news was great about Andy,” says executive producer Steven S. Deknight. “He seemed to be in full recovery, but unfortunately after that we found out the cancer had returned. So, we were faced with the choice of do we continue or do we just close up shop.”
THR’S Complete Comic-Con Coverage
Deknight says that he and the other producers had to a lot of soul searching, but the decision was then made easier when Whitfield gave his blessing.
“[Andy said] he really wanted the show to continue,” Deknight explains. “And he gives his full support on the recasting.”
Enter McIntyre, who Australian fans will know as recurring character Sergeant Matt Connor on Rush or as Bradley Hewson on Neighbours. He made his U.S. debut as Bell Captain Lew on HBO’s The Pacific.
STORY: ‘Spartacus: Vengeance’ First Look: Liam McIntyre Ready for Battle
Landing the role wasn’t exactly an easy thing for the actor. After a worldwide search for Whitfield’s replacement, McIntyre landed in the final group of possible actors. The producers were apparently impressed with his acting, but he had recently lost weight for a film role and they wondered if he would be able to fit the physical requirements of Spartacus. Deknight says they put the actor on a “crazy retainer” before officially casting him.
“When I was in Australia and they were still trying to think about what they were doing to do with the season,” McIntyre says. “They sent me down this ex-military trainer, which was fun. And I’m pretty sure for the first two days the instruction was, ‘What could he stand?’”
Watch the full interview below.
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