This afternoon, the series creator, executive producer, and writer walked journalists through some of the changes on the way with the upcoming season of the STARZ series, working on the show after the passing of lead Andy Whitfield, and working with new actor Liam McIntyre in the lead role. The series returns to STARZ on Friday, January 27th at 10 PM.
If you need a primer, here's a synopsis of the upcoming season:
On the heels of the bloody escape from the House of Batiatus that concluded “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” the gladiator rebellion continues and begins to strike fear into the heart of the Roman Republic in “Spartacus: Vengeance.” Gaius Claudius Glaber and his Roman troops are sent to Capua to crush the growing band of freed slaves that Spartacus leads before it can inflict further damage. Spartacus is presented the choice of satisfying his personal need for vengeance against the man that condemned his wife to slavery and eventual death, or making the larger sacrifices necessary to keep his budding army from breaking apart. Containing all of the blood-soaked action, exotic sexuality, and villainy and heroism that has come to distinguish the series, the tale of Spartacus resumes in epic fashion.
Here are some of the highlights from the chat:
- He says that one of the virtues of actor Liam McIntyre is that he brings compassion to the role--the character does go into rages, but it comes from a wounded place.
- He explains that the heroes in the show aren't your merry heroes--their beginnings are troubled.
- This season is about taking the character on a journey from a man looking for revenge to a leader of men. "Everybody grows up this season."
- He admits that the show's beginning was rocky and there were a lot of criticisms about the amounts of sex, violence, and gay content. He says that the show did get off to a rough start but that they've since been able to tell the story that they want to tell.
- I asked Deknight about his feelings on the evolution of the series and he went back to those rocky beginnings, joking that after the negative response to the first few episodes, he ran through the streets naked. But when he, Raimi, and Tapert sat dowb to figure out the tone, they knew it was simply a matter of finding an equilibrium for all of the sex and violence in the material.
- To the last point, Deknight says that they started off wanting to be a graphic novel and realized that it was necessary to dial back the visual effects and focus on the emotional stakes of each scene—if there's an orgy, the scene isn't about the orgy, but about the emotions in the scenes.
- He and his team are currently in the process of writing the next season, and they're guided by history as a guidepost. Deknight explains that he and his team spend a couple of weeks laying down some of the major historical and narrative elements and building from there.
- Deknight reiterates a couple of times that when it comes down to history and entertainment, the show will always err on the side of entertainment. He says the audience will be surprised by how the story ends.
- In lieu of writing the character differently with Liam taking over, Deknight says that they simply kept the character's voice the same.
- Deknight gives his thanks to Joss Whedon who he credits with giving him opportunities with Angel and Dollhouse.
- Would there ever be a movie? It would solely be dependent on everyone's schedules and fan interest.
- Deknight describes the dialog of the show as a mix between Shakespeare and Robert E. Howard, a conscious affectation that actually makes writing the show "extremely challenging."
- Deknight says that the show was originally pitched by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert before Deknight had even heard of it, and the only thing he knew was that the plan was to make a gladiator series in the style of Zack Snyder's The 300.
You can catch the premiere of Spartacus: Vengeance on Friday, January 27th at 10 PM on STARZ.