Stars Manu Bennett, Nick Tarabay, Craig Parker, and Dan Feuerriegel Dish on SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE

The Starz series SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE is best known for its super hot actors who portray some of the most driven, tenacious and survival-oriented men on television – gladiators fighting for their lives.  In a recent press conference call, stars Manu Bennett (who portrays Crixus), Nick Tarabay (who portrays Ashur), Craig Parker (who portrays Glaber) and Dan Feuerriegel (who portrays Agron) on SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE candidly shared what drives these searing characters and what is upcoming for each of them this next season.
With Liam McIntyre coming into the role of Spartacus, how has that changed the chemistry on set, if at all?
DAN:  Of course it’s going to change chemistry because he’s a completely different person. But as actors you just adapt to Liam’s personality, and therefore that makes you change certain things here and there. That’s just what we do. Liam did amazing in the first two episodes and he just keeps getting better and better. I think he did an absolutely fantastic job. And so of course it was different. But I felt as though no better/no worse. He was just Liam. He was just doing what he does and we all did what we did. And as seen in the first two episodes, this is how it was turning out. So I guess if you enjoy it, a lot of other people will enjoy it, and I’m certainly sure that everybody enjoyed working with him. I mean I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’m sure they’ll say the same thing.
NICK: No, no, no, I didn’t like working with Liam, not one bit! [Laughter]
DAN:  Well that’s okay, no one liked working with you at all, Nick. I mean come on, now that we’re going to be honest here and start throwing stones. [Laughter]
MANU: Liam came on to our set with a very open heart. He’s never stopped discussing with all of us, his journey. And I think there’s something very SPARTACUS about that. There’s a very truthful pure quality to the man himself and that’s what they needed to find. Andy [Whitfield] gave such an extraordinarily honest performance, and people were just so moved by that that it was almost an impossibility to find somebody to replace Andy. What they’ve found in Liam is somebody with an absolute truth. It’s a different truth, but it’s still the truth, as a person. And it’s wonderful to work with him because every day he brings an ‘open book’ that we all get to participate with. There were other people that came and read, and the acting world’s an egotistical world and we could have gotten somebody who just got into the chariot and rode it as some kind of the next big thing. But Liam is a very humble person and has gifted us all with his openness — and that reads itself into the role.
CRAIG: I think very first episode, which is a strange new episode — there’s a new Spartacus; there’s a new world that we’re in. It’s an odd episode, but by the end of it you fully embrace Liam as a different, but the new Spartacus and you’re ready to go on the journey with him, which is quite wonderful. And, as Manu says, he doesn’t in any way try to be Andy or to replicate that performance. He takes it as a whole new sort of slate and paints a very different Spartacus but a equally interesting and sort of diverse, and does a wonderful, wonderful job.
NICK: I have to actually agree with all three of the guys. And one thing I’ve actually really liked about Liam was his heart. I mean he has such a good heart, and like Manu said, “He’s very humble.” And like when you talk to him outside of acting, when we just sit down and talk between scenes or at lunchtime or whatever, he’s such a good person, and very dedicated to the work, that you see Spartacus in him, which made it very easy for all of us to see him as the new Spartacus. Liam is surrounded by really, really good actors and really, really good people that I think it made it easier for him too to get more into the character. So he’s doing a great job.
DAN:  Yes, and he also respected where it all came from, and where he came from as well. He knew what he was up against with continually and just, as Manu said, “Modest and humble,” in regards to what Andy did in the first season. And that’s another magnificent part of Liam’s personality, which shines through as well.
Can you tease whether Ashur and Crixus paths are crossing this next season and how entrenched will Ashur become in Crixus’ world?
NICK: I think it won’t be a story if Ashur and Crixus somehow don’t get together that way, especially having Crixus my ultimate enemy on the show. So you do see a little bit of that and it’s going to be very, very intense actually, the way you see it. I mean everything I think in VENGEANCE this season is going to be pretty intense and very heightened. So any time characters interact with one another, it’s going to be pretty big. And add to it the history that I have with Crixus, I think is going to make it even more interesting. And as far as Lucy [Lawless], yes, there’s a lot of story, a lot of scenes, a lot of work with me and Lucy, that I was very, very happy to have because I didn’t get a chance really to work with her in Season 1 and the prequel. But, in this season, we have a lot of work — maybe a little too much — just kidding! And Ashur this season is unlike every other season. He’s his own man in a way and he’s under really severe circumstances that he’s going all out. I mean, seriously, he has no boundaries. He fights really for what he thinks is right, and his goals get bigger and bigger. And the twists and the turns that he comes up with is something that surprised me as the actor every episode. I give a lot of credit for the writers. And, obviously, I give a lot of credit to the actors; made it a lot easier for me to to work harder and make it better. So, yes, you’re going to see a lot of Crixus, Lucy, and more Ashur hopefully.
For Craig, I’m really curious to know how your character stays married to Ilithyia and how that goes. How does the marriage go in this particular season?
CRAIG: I think when we first meet them, they’ve been through some heavy guidance counseling and marriage counseling. With her that it’s not going to be an easy marriage. And the fun thing this year is when we first meet them it’s quite a different circumstance than when we left them so. I don’t think that gives anything away, where Ilithyia has been told to behave and be a good wife. And you know Ilithyia; it’s not going to last. So there’s some fantastic relationship stuff there. And to work with someone like Viva is so much fun because she’s created this absolute monster of a character. It is always a joy to see how Ilithyia responds to the situation.
Do you think that Glaber’s true enemy is Ilithyia more so than Spartacus?
CRAIG: Absolutely. I think she is the one that destroys him the most — that hurts him the most. And this series, I think you’ll see him start to stand up for himself, become a bit of the man that he wants to be. And part of that is freeing himself from her control. It’s quite good; truly she’s not going to have an easy ride, I promise you.
Manu, this season there’s a really interesting dynamic being built up between Crixus and Spartacus, building on the previous season. With Crixus telling Spartacus that, “Since he’s now a leader he has to be smarter,” and with Spartacus having to tell Crixus to, “Keep his Gauls in line and not just tear off after Naevia,” how does this play out over the course of the season?
MANU: There’s no real answer to that. There’s just a tug-of-war really. It’s a difference of objectives. Spartacus, I believe in this season, has maybe more transitional — has more of a transitional story than even Crixus. I mean, it’s like you enter the season with Crixus with a very definite goal, and that is to find Naevia. And Spartacus with an evolution, he’s said he wants to do something and all of a sudden everybody’s looking at him going like, “Okay, you’ve made this big speech, you’ve forced us all to become fugitives, and now what’s the plan?” As I think as far as Crixus is concerned, he just goes through all the necessary actions of finding supplies and food and whatnot, but Spartacus has this leadership role that he’s taken on. And of course Crixus is going to be the first one to call him on that and question him on that and remind him of the agreement that he made with everybody as we left the Ludus. . . . I think the two of them are very honest men, speaking from the heart and they just basically have a bit of a tug-of-war constantly because the two of them are both leaders and they don’t necessarily sit comfortably in being the follower or the person who has to follow the other’s objective. But, as in Season 1, I think that’s what creates a lovely sort of brotherhood story — the push and pull of a kind of a deep respect that’s never sort of allowed to show itself on the surface.
Can you talk about filming the fight sequences and how much training goes into them physically and mentally?
CRAIG: That’s you boys, isn’t it?
NICK: I was going to say maybe I should answer this since I’m not in it. [Laughter]
MANU: Al Poppleton was nominated for an Emmy. He’s our stunt coordinator, so we’ve got the best in the business. These guys are meticulous in making us train for what we need to build ourselves up for. We do a gladiator boot camp at the beginning of each year, which is really a very rigorous four-week process, which not only teaches us all of the weaponry and sort of beats from one-to-six or whatever we learn things in numbers so that when we go into the season we basically speak in terms of a system that we learned at the beginning. So it’s a language; it’s just like learning dance. It’s like learning anything where there’s choreography involved. And Al Poppleton does a very, very good job at it. And we have just a wonderful stunt team that we work very closely with. And I think over the three seasons that we’ve shot so far, we just keep on getting actually more experienced and more experienced. So I think the fans this season are going to get like another level again of the quality of the fights because we’re actually keep on improving because of our training.
CRAIG: I think, as the training improves and everyone gets better and better in seeking new and more interesting ways to do a fight.  Also the technology is increasing. So the way we shoot things, the way we know how to work with CGI or layering shot. So even in the very first episode, that opening sequence with the horses and Spartacus, it’s incredible.  It’s ballet, it’s full theater and opera. So you end up with these amazing, beautiful, bloody, horrible, terrible moments, but they’re wonderful to watch.
NICK: Also if I may add, even though I wasn’t in the first episode, but I can speak for the rest of the season, what I also like about some of the fights for this season, what I like about it which is a new kind of fight because we’re out of the Ludus so it’s not all organized and it’s not all like a Doctore would teach everybody to do it like very honorably. You’ll see a lot of street fights and you’ll see a lot of like kind of dirty fights.
DAN:  The weapons have changed.
NICK: Yes, the weapons have changed. Even some of the stuff, like it’s really cutty and it’s scary and bloody. And in a new way, I mean it’s really going to be really interesting to see that which gives more of the story of what the new world is now. So that I think the fans are really going to like a different kind of fighting as well. So I’m looking forward to see it.
DAN:  They also try and get really specific with each character to have a particular fighting style so we’re all different. Like for example, Gannicus and Spartacus are very beautiful with how they fight. And Agron is a bit more aggressive, and Crixus is very intense
CRAIG: Glaber, Dan? How’s Glaber? How does Glaber fight?
DAN:  No, Glaber just gets everybody else to do it. But with the training as well, four hours a day every day for four weeks, it not only builds up your body – they train specifically. So when you do fight sequences, which you can be filming for an entire day, by the end of the day you’re exhausted but you still have the ability to carry on because you’ve trained that way. By the end of the boot-camp you’ve learned to deal with pain and exhaustion mentally. And because some of those fight sequences, when you shoot it for a couple of days in a row, there’s aches, there’s pains, there’s injuries. I know I got myself injured a couple of times.
MANU: And we shoot in New Zealand, which is different than shooting in America.
DAN:  Yes, it’s cold.
MANU: We probably wouldn’t be allowed to do what we do in America because of the safety regulations and what not. We actually push the envelope over there, and people probably don’t get that. Well, they do get it, because they love our show and they love the fight sequences.
DAN:  And you also have to take into account that it is a TV show still and it is shot quite quickly. So there are times where there has just been no time to learn a complex fight scene. And so that’s when the phenomenal talents of the stunt guys come in too. I do know that there’s been a couple of days where I haven’t had anything and we’ve got a huge fight sequence. And they quickly go through something before you start filming and you just do it. So I’m sure we’ve all experienced that at one time or another on the set, that you can’t always have the long periods of rehearsal time, and you’ve just got to do it.  So kudos to them as well.
SPARTACUS is a very intense show to be on. What can you tell us about what you guys do to lighten up the set a bit, like who’s the biggest prankster?
MANU: Nick, without a doubt.
NICK: I would say Craig.
DAN:  Craig? Yes, Craig’s pretty funny and annoying. [Laughter]
CRAIG: It’s funny because we’re very much in two different worlds.  There is this series, wherein the previous series it’s been in the Ludus where they all live together. But this world is very much the Roman world and the Gladiator world, and it’s quite strange. We sort of very rarely intersect, we do further down the series we do. And so it was like two different camps and you would find in Spartacus’ world there’s Dan who is incredibly naughty.  And you think, “This is their little world and their little school politics.” But in Roman world I think the blacker the stuff you’re dealing with, the harder emotionally, the more brutal and awful stuff you’re doing each day on set, the funnier the off-set becomes. Because it’s a great sort of release to remind yourself constantly that while these characters are doing terrible things to each other, as actors we are playing with each other, we’re having the great joy and pleasure of working on great scripts with great actors. So the humor does become very black and very twisted, but it definitely has to be there I think throughout just to survive the season.
NICK: I think honestly — I know SPARTACUS is very intense but some of the behind the scene captures what happens with the actors. I mean, I think if they really have a camera on us behind the scene it would be a comedy show going on because we’re always cracking jokes, we’re always laughing. I mean, I worked a lot with Craig and Lucy in the season and there were times that we couldn’t help ourselves; we had to actually control our laughter to get into the scene. But what it did was just create that safe and trusting environment that we know each other really well and everybody is very dedicated to the work. So we just had fun with it. And everybody, no matter how tense it is, even Manu he comes in as he’s Crixus and everybody’s like all, “Fuck the Gauls,” he cracks jokes too. I mean he’s laughing, he’s doing this to his own self too.  So behind the scenes it’s completely different people than when you see onscreen. So that was pretty fun for us all.
MANU: Yes, I think the thing is that we all enjoy the show. I mean we actually have a wonderful production team and everybody enjoys their process. And I think when you’re on a show –I mean, we’ve had very much of a roller coaster ride because of all the things that could have potentially stopped our show from running. But because everyone felt like we’re working on a great project that there’s never been a day that I haven’t gone to work actually looking forward to it. I look forward to going to work. I’ve never gone to work once feeling like, “I don’t’ want to go to work today.” And I feel that everybody that I work with has that sort of absolute positivity about the show. So the mood on set is constantly driven by positivity.  There’s very rarely the sort of the gripes that you get on a lot of sets. I mean, we have our few moments, but everyone very quickly pulls everybody else into line because we actually work as a team, it’s great.
Nick, we going to get to see Ashur get some payback on Spartacus this year as well?
NICK: Well, I think Ashur has a bone to pick with a lot of people. But, yes, he does have something to pick with Spartacus, because he was elevated. He became Batiatus’ right-hand man and became part of the villa, that world, and that fulfilled that hole that he had, because he ultimately wanted to be a gladiator so much. And when that wasn’t fulfilled, he found joy and he found peace in that power of becoming Batiatus’ right-hand man, and eventually excelling. So when Spartacus did this, obviously that ruined his plans. But I think Ashur, and the way I approach the character, ultimately my all-time nemesis is Crixus in a way because in Ashur’s mind in the “Gods of the Arena,” the prequel, he helped Crixus in the beginning and he was kind of by his side. And then Crixus turned sides and then crippled him in the end. So he took away what he really wanted so bad, which is to be accepted and to be part of the brotherhood. And then on top of that in Season 1, he kept on pushing him down; suppressing him and really pushing him down throughout, which that added more to that fire that made Ashur the person that we got to know now. I mean, obviously there’s other elements as well because it started with Crixus and then it ended up with everybody else around him.  We also believe Ashur didn’t start out that way, he didn’t start out to be the person that everybody kind of calls the villain or the bad guy, whatever you want to call it. He actually came to the Ludus wanting to be part of something big, and he wanted to be part of the brotherhood. But he kept on being pushed down, pushed down, pushed down, and not accepted, for reasons not his fault. So he, Ashur, the one that we know now, became that way from the Ludus, supposedly a place of honor and brotherhood. So he actually has vengeance against them all now. He sees them, and they all contribute to his fall. So he is going to definitely go after Crixus as you saw in Season 1, he does in a way through Naevia, and that actually, that continues obviously. Especially Spartacus too, because he’s leading those people into this rebellion, took away all what he was going to be. And then you’ll see him actually plotting a lot of stuff. I think Ashur’s going to cause a lot of problem this season, even more problems than I thought he would actually end up doing — physically and mentally. And he really stares the part this season. It’s a different level of interaction; whether it’s with Crixus, whether it’s with Spartacus, even his relationship with Glaber and his relationship with Lucretia — all of these relationships, it’s in a different level this season. you keep hearing over and over, “Vengeance is bigger,” and it really is, it’s pretty grand. So everything is heightened. It’s really tough times, especially for Ashur.
Manu, how have you found working with Cynthia Addai-Robinson? And how is that relationship going to evolve, because obviously Naevia’s going to be a different person, having been sent away when she was with you.
MANU: Put it this way, I go searching for the new Naevia. I mean, obviously, there’s a new actress there, but I just don’t want to give that away in this particular instance. But in looking for a new Naevia, because of what’s happened to her, finding Cynthia in the role it added a freshness, it added something new. Lesley-Ann and I setup a wonderful relationship story in Season 1, as did Andy Whitfield. Working with him was just so true to every moment it was phenomenal. Going into this new season with exactly the two people closest to Crixus Spartacus and Naevia, they were both new actors. So it was something that in my mind if I wanted to play on the idea that it would be bizarre and difficult or whatever you can entertain that idea sure, if you want, but otherwise you’ve just got to open yourself up and be willing for the change. Luckily, in both instances of two very competent actors in the roles, and I don’t have to worry about the relationship because the relationship’s actually written in the storyline as an actor I just have to perform wonderful scenes that Steven DeKnight and the team are writing. And the actors, I’ve loved working with Cynthia. Cynthia’s been a totally new experience and as has Liam, and in both instances I’ve gone to the end of the season and just gone, “Wow, that was just another fantastic season.” And everybody’s saying, “It’s the best season yet,” and that’s very difficult to make as a statement in regard to the acting. I think people are talking about the production quality, but the acting has stayed at the same level — it’s stayed very competent. So I think basically we’re just in even better creative hands because our creative team just keeps on improving and our scripts, and the sort of symphony of SPARTACUS continues with even more intensity, because we’re just getting better at what we do.
Will we see Crixus continue his push to be a leader or will concede to be more of a follower this season?
MANU: I think with some characters they say, “what kind of cat never changes its spots?” I think every character on our show is pretty much carved out of granite.  There’s change in the way they’ll feel with their hearts, but really its’ a very iconic series.  We’ve got very mainstay characters that continue to sort of like revel in their individual characters.  If you took away Crixus’ desire to be a leader I don’t know what you’d be left with. I think he’s trying to find example and to live his life in a way where he thinks he’s doing the best thing to move forward. and if somebody else’s idealism is going to come in to question his direction, then he’s either going to battle with it or adopt it, that perspective which is the situation with Spartacus. The leadership thing is what I think drives our great drama that’s between Spartacus and Crixus on many things. But between anybody in the show . . . it’s sort of the bottom line of SPARTACUS, is the voice of the individual, and it’s just wonderful that the world’s really such a screwed up place and we have to keep on making a drama of it….our individuality and that people are wrong and right. I mean, are people wrong and right? Its just perception, isn’t it?
CRAIG: There is a wonderful thing through with all the characters leading or driving or things.  But everyone is trying to do the right thing whether they’re the goodies or the baddies. Everyone has a clear idea of what is the right course, the way the world should be. And I think with every single character in this world, they’re all in the pursuit of happiness and they just end up doing terrible things on the way.
Will we get to learn more of Agron’s backstory this season?
DAN:  A little bit here and there, not too much about backstory. But you’ll definitely get a lot more of his desires and his personality. And also just like what the guys were talking about is just his desire to be heard, not so much lead. But he definitely has a lot of opinions and he kind of develops into Spartie’s right hand man and he’s definitely got Spartie’s ear. But just whether or not he gets heard or not is the big thing. But you definitely do learn a lot more about Agron in this upcoming season.
Craig and Nick, your characters never think they’re the villains.  How do you play that and what is that dynamic like as an actor?
CRAIG: I don’t think they believe they’re being villains. In their world Spartacus, Crixus, those guys are the ones doing the terrible things; they’re killing good Romans. And the wonderful thing for me this series is working so closely with Nick, where their goals are entwined. And I think Ashur is such a fantastic kind of cockroach of a survivor that he will fit in with whatever the main chance is. And they do end up working very closely together because their goals align, that they want to get rid of Spartacus, they want to achieve closure with this whole process. So throughout it, I don’t know for Nick, but I never felt that Glaber was the villain, he was just trying to do the right thing in the right way. But these are two characters who — as we go through the series —  suddenly realize they don’t have to behave as correctly as they have been. They don’t have to follow the rules so much, they can start breaking them. So while they believe they’re trying to do the right thing, they no longer feel they have to do it in exactly the right way. It makes it wonderful and interesting.
NICK: Very true, what Craig’s saying, absolutely. I never approached Ashur as a villain at all. And I think that’s a doom for every actor anyway to judge his character. But on top of that, the way I just saw the script and my homework was never, never, never, never as a bad guy, he just was misunderstood. He’s trying to excel and he’s trying to be a part of something and he just was not accepted, as I said before, “For reasons not of his own.” And the good thing about the show, and which I give a lot of credit for obviously the writers, but also a lot of it to the actors because what’s fun about the show, even if you see Spartacus, for example, if you consider Spartacus, Crixus, Gannicus, Doctore, whatever, if you consider Agron, if you consider those people are the good guys, you’ll see through and through that they do a lot of bad things too, in a way. So nobody’s flawless here. I mean, there are mistakes everywhere. So it’s again the way I saw it is all perception, “What is it that you think is right?” I think ultimately the goal for everybody is survival and surviving. And maybe the Romans are a little bit different because there’s that sense of entitlement. But what’s fun about this season is they are, under certain circumstances that makes them act certain way. Like Craig just said, “Between Ashur and Glaber, they find a different ground that they can play with.” And it’s a new ground by the way for SPARTACUS here, you’ve never seen this before, where they can do — they have the freedom to do whatever it is that they want. And it was a lot of joy, even working with Craig seeing how he was in Season 1 for example, and seeing him in this season how he starts out, and then what he becomes. And my hat’s off to Craig obviously in this because he always brings something very, very exciting to the role that you can’t help but feed from and try to top it. It was great joy because me and Craig will always work together, but we’ll always talk about our scenes and how we can take this somewhere else. And this is every actor’s, in a way, dream is to work with people that looking at the bigger picture and looking to serve the story, which you – I’m sure you will see in this season, the great transition from the first episode till the last episode so.
CRAIG: Shucks. There is a wonderful thing particularly with Ashur and Glaber that these are kids who have been bullied. They are like the Romans bully Glaber, all the posh Romans, and you know everyone bullies Ashur. And let it be a warning to all those bullies out there because sometimes the bully kid turns and we really are, we’re these screwed up little kids who, both of us trying to in a way just settle for a nice quiet life where we’re respected and people are nice to us. But we’re just so screwed up that we do terrible things.
Ashur has kind of a big journey this season and you get to sort of scheme with Lucretia and with Glaber and you have some intense scenes with Oenomaus. Can you could talk a little bit about his journey? Is he’s always plotting or is he always reacting to things in order to survive?
NICK: Well, I think Ashur, which I really love about this character; he’s very, very smart and he’s always thinking ten steps ahead. And maybe in the beginning, again in the prequel or a little bit in Season 1, he was a bit reacting, which in my mind he was more assessing. Especially in Season 1, after he found out that he couldn’t fight any more and he was a cripple, he was just watching everybody and kind of analyzing each character and then founding out his ultimate weapon, which is his brain and his wits and his talent for survival. In this season, he is definitely plotting. He is really investing in certain people.  . .  I’m using the word investing, especially with certain character, because he feels that it might payoff somehow or it might be his backup plan, which end up being the case in a lot of ways. He has a really, really big journey. And Episode 4, I mean it gets even bigger and bigger towards the end, and his dreams and what he wants achieved is beyond what he though is possible. And that all comes true in a way with him aligning with Glaber and the Romans – the bigger boys, especially with Oenomaus.  Again what I said before “Ashur’s got a bone to pick with a lot of people.” And we all saw what happened in the end of Season 1. So definitely he has something to pick with Oenomaus, Crixus and Spartacus . . . He’s definitely planning. His plan keeps getting bigger and bigger. And what’s great is because he’s a bit closer to the Romans, but not necessarily on their good side yet, the possibilities as I said, “Are limitless,” or maybe way bigger than he was next to Batiatus. He’s playing with a way bigger boy; he’s playing with Glaber now, a big roman.  But that also comes with dues as well he has to in a way prove himself, which is a different ballgame with the Romans.. It doesn’t come easy and Glaber doesn’t make it easier for him, and Lucretia doesn’t make it easier. But in general, it’s hard all the way around. It’s really tough circumstances. But you’ll see Ashur planning stuff like that.  You won’t know what he was planning up until episode 10, which is the last episode and you’re like, “Oh, this is where he was going for,” which is a big surprise going to be for the audience because it was a big surprise for me. So I’m sure they’re going to be shocked, yes.
When you guys are doing these scenes and there’s all this crazy sex and violence and all this other stuff going around in the background, when you either are filming or when you actually see it after it’s shot, are you ever shocked by what you see? Or do you just come to just go, Eh, another day at Spartacus?”
NICK:   Another day.
DAN:    Another day.
MANU: Aw man, it’s not pornography. It’s great scripts.  It’s great moments . I get asked this question sometimes, I’m never bothered by what we do, it’s wonderful. We’re all adults.  It’s kind of bizarre how people talk about nudity and sex scenes as the taboo. I mean god, how did we all get here?
CRAIG: It’s just so. I think everyone’s been working together so long that — and we’ve got so used to the world that it’s totally safe, you never feel vulnerable or odd. And people are incredibly respectful. When there are scenes — and it’s not necessarily just being nude — but there’s often quite confronting scenes where characters are doing things that are on the edge of heavily emotional difficult scenes for the actors. But there is such a level of respect from the crew that those scenes are always made — you’re made to feel incredibly safe, and so within that safety you can explore the scary and the frightening but in a really safe way. So we all just get used to it really.
About the dynamics of the group, how does the evolution of the group change over the course of the season?
DAN:  As you saw in the first couple of episodes, and from the first season as well, the Germans and the Gauls do not like each other for some reason. So, of course, that’s the initial kind of conflict, especially between myself and Crixus. And of course everybody has their own desires, everybody has their own agenda, but it seems like Spartacus is there to kind of keep everyone together, whereas and like of course Crixus, his sole purpose is to get back to his love. Agron, he’s still hurting form the loss of his brother and he’s just kind of going on a blitzkrieg, and just wants to kill Romans pretty much. He doesn’t really have one source of who he wants to avenge. And even in the first episode his one chance of actually taking one back gets taken away from him because Crixus had to get some information. So that also just adds to the conflict, adds to the conflict. But that’s why Spartacus eventually, I guess, ends up as the leader so to speak, because he is open to everyone and will take a back seat when is required, and will lead when is required, and keeps everyone together. So that’s kind of my take on the whole I guess, agenda.
MANU: It’s really just about leadership. It’s just about this group of slaves. I mean, basically we walk out of a door into total enemy territory. And most of us have only ever known to work as slaves or work in a mine, or to fight as gladiators. It’s a classic example of, “Out of the frying pan into the fire.” How do people behave in that situation? I mean, we weren’t the best of friends in the Ludus. Do you think this scenario’s going to ease up our tensions? It just gets worse and relationships get absolutely pushed to the edge. So it’s just another conundrum of personalities just trying to survive, trying to put one foot in front of the other.
DAN:  But in a deeper level it’s kind of about equality.  That’s what Spartacus is trying to do.  That’s what he says the whole way through, “Everybody is equal.” Everybody is equal regardless of what you do, where you’ve come from, everybody is equal. And so that’s why I feel as though Spartacus eventually becomes the leader because that’s his view, that’s his vision.
MANU: Yes, well said.
To see how Crixus, Ashur, Glaber and Agron truly fare in the gripping, and harrowing season ahead on SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE, be sure to tune in for the premiere on Friday, January 27th at 10PM on STARZ (Sunday January 29th at 10PM on TMN in Canada).

Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).

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