Liam McIntyre returns for a second season as Spartacus, commander of the powerful rebel army. And in this interview during the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, the talented actor discusses Spartacus’ journey over the course of the show and what fans can expect from this season.
Liam McIntyre Interview – Spartacus: War of the Damned
I don’t know about you, but I was kind of a little sad when I heard that this was the last season.
Liam McIntyre: “Everyone was devastated.”
How did you take the news?
Liam McIntyre: “Obviously when I first found out it was definitely the last season, it’s sad, because I just love this character so much. He’s so exciting to play and so different to anything I ever thought I’d actually get to do. I was always like if I ever got into a career in this, I might be like the guy next door, best friend kind of guy or something. But to be like an action hero is the bomb. It’s amazing. Yeah, so it was really sad. But then you think about things and you go, ‘How many TV shows that I’ve loved got to go out at the biggest they could possibly ever be?’ Because it just keeps getting bigger. Steven [DeKnight’s] told me you can imagine a point where running away from Romans and sometimes fighting them might get a little tired, maybe. Like you don’t want to think about it but, fortunately…”
Liam McIntyre: [Laughing] “As a fan, that’s my immediate reaction is like, Don’t be stupid. I hate you! Shut up. Shut up and do more.’ But I try to think about that because I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, sure.’ Heaven forbid that actually did happen and it was like, ‘You know what? We should probably wind this up now.’
It’ll be heartbreaking for all the actors because it’s been such an up and down show. I can only imagine what people like Manu [Bennett] are going through because he’s had to go, obviously, to move between two different Spartacus’s and stuff like that. There’s so much sad trials and tribulations. The story itself, which is such a heartbreaking story in many ways, mimicked in many ways by the show itself. For me it was…I mean, I’m so lucky to even have this job. It’s a dream come true and so I’m lucky just to be doing any seasons.”
What could you be possibly doing next? You have to become Bond now.
Liam McIntyre: [Laughing] “Well, if I have to, I will, all right? No, I’ve decided Batman and Bond, and if I ever got those two roles then I’d have to retire because I’d have nothing else left to do. Batman and Bond, if anyone’s casting. No, it’s cool. Already I’ve got some cool stuff in the works and I’ve got some things I’m writing which has got some interest, so I may have a TV show, and a TV show I’ve created as well one day – or a video game. No, sorry, I’m just going to my own space now.”
What about a Spartacus movie?
Liam McIntyre: “Yeah. Well, I don’t know. I heard something about that. I’d love that. That was the best thing about meeting Kirk Douglas, which was so cool. He’s like, ‘Why wasn’t I asked to be cast as Spartacus?’ I’m like, ‘Yes, sir. If you want it, sir, there’s still five episodes to go. You can have it.’ That’s cool. There’s a Spartacus video game. I played it yesterday. It’s me in a video game. What years of trying to edit facial features in kind of ‘slider’ worlds, where you make the nose a little bigger, the eyes a little smaller, now someone’s doing it for me. It’s amazing.”
Did you win?
Liam McIntyre: “Yeah, I beat Steven DeKnight. Take that, Steven, wherever you are. But then the designer of the game, like the actual producer of the game who plays it all the time, played me, and I won. I went, ‘No, wait a minute. You let me win, didn’t you?’ He was like, ‘No.’ I’m like, ‘I know when a guy lets me win. You let me win.’ He was like, ‘Well, I want you to have fun. I want you to enjoy your own game.’ I’m like, ‘You beat me. You do it now!’ He played me properly and he beat me pretty well.”
Speaking of victories, last season you were pretty successful. What’s up for Spartacus in this season?
Liam McIntyre: “He’s really, again, in a pretty different place because while last season was kind of the journey to becoming a leader and that difficult change of state from the journey he was on as a person, his personal agony, through to, ‘I have a whole bunch of people that need me to live in some way,’ but now he’s that guy. He’s very much the commander of this group and he doesn’t doubt himself like he used to. He’s absolutely certain that the only way is complete focus towards victory. That’s tough to play because if you just be that guy it’s quite boring.
Acting’s about relationships. What I’ve found is really interesting this season is a guy who, in a very manly, masculine kind of way, has had so much pain and hurt that he’s almost trying to shutter his emotions off, and he’s trying to shut himself down from them, but he can’t. That, in itself, is really fun to play because every death – and there’s thousands of them – is his fault in some way. He is the leader of this thing and it’s his job to keep all these people safe, even though he knows he can’t and against almost impossible odds. So he’s fighting a very emotional battle every day to try and keep these people alive.”
What’s next now that he’s got what he wanted? Have his motives changed?
Liam McIntyre: “Well, it’s moved on, because that’s the thing I always liked at the end of last season. He put the full stop on that personal pain somewhat but he’d already gone, ‘I have to do this but I’m already realizing that that’s not where my life lies anymore. I’m not going to kill this guy and go back home and things are going to be the same. Right now I have a job. I have a debt to all these people now that are expecting me to change the world, and that’s so heavy,’ and that does weigh really heavy on him this season.”
Does he almost regret getting into that position?
Liam McIntyre: “Never. Not this season. He doesn’t regret, it’s just it is what he does now. He’s like, ‘So whatever’s gone past, I have this now and this is what I do.'”
What does Spartacus mean to you now that you’ve played him?
Liam McIntyre: “It’s brought into focus what already…because I always loved history, especially that Roman era of history, and I knew about Spartacus. One of the things I realized through just doing all my research is how much the Kirk Douglas story of Spartacus has shaped our understanding of who he was as a person because in the history there’s only so much about him. People’s perception of Spartacus is highly informed by that, and finding out in the way we told the story, a different person who isn’t necessarily such a slave-freeing, noble-hearted person. He sort of becomes that guy, but he starts off [with] a lot of darkness in Spartacus, and that’s been fun to play.
The thing that blows my mind the most is that he could have done anything like what he achieved. He took 70-odd people from a slave quarters and rallied an army of up to 100,000 people by some telling of totally different nationalities that never knew each other, with no kind of flag to fly, and somehow made a war work that was on the verge of succeeding. To me, the fact that a guy could be that person and actually be that strong-willed and that determined and survive that long against the greatest military force of the age is mind-blowing.
Being Spartacus and following his journey through this story is hard, but then to think about the actual Spartacus doing this for real… It’s all fine when it’s scripted, but he did it for real. That to me is something that’s been brought into focus, something that’s nigh on impossible.”
And what he did still resonates today. He changed the world, as you say.
Liam McIntyre: “That’s the best part, because even though I guess militarily it went down as a loss, this is a guy that people are still holding up as someone who represents the hope of freedom and liberation of people, and the underdog fighting against the big machine that wants to crush them under their feet. That in itself, it’s nice to keep that story alive and young, and that’s really nice.”
How has being a part of this show changed your life?
Liam McIntyre: “I mean, I’ve gone from a guy who was super happy to play a Shakespeare role in a park somewhere down the road from where I live to I’ve met like every major casting director there is now – and that doesn’t make any sense. I’ve got a photo of me in Times Square. I don’t understand the life I’m living now. I kind of hope I don’t, ever.”
Liam McIntyre: “I don’t know. It’s not about being famous. I like telling stories. That is the hardest thing about this story going away, is that I loved the story of Spartacus so much. All the other stuff is kind of cool and a little bit scary sometimes, but from an actor’s point of view, I’ve been given so many amazing opportunities and such a big set, like a ready-made fan base and amazing storytelling and writing and pretty much everyone in the departments are head of their field. It’s like, when am I going to find an experience like that? And to tell a historically important character, to tell the story in a way that hasn’t been told before? I’m still the luckiest person I know.”
Manu said he broke a rib recently.
Liam McIntyre: “Yeah. I punched him so damn hard. It wasn’t even on set.”
Did you have any injuries on the set?
Liam McIntyre: “Well, funny you should say that. Manu gave me these. I’ve slowly growing them back. I had knuckles.”
That’s from punching him in the face?
Liam McIntyre: “Yeah. He’s got a really good stubble and I kind of glanced a blow and just cut my knuckles up. No, I mean we did this thing and yeah, they’re growing back though and it’s fine. So far, I’m pretty injury free, touch wood. But they’re going to give it a red hot go. I’ve done some moves already that I’m like, ‘Maybe the best American wrestler could do this, but this is ridiculous.’ So far it’s a goal to keep my stunt double out of work.”
Since this is the last season, is it going to go out with a big bang?
Liam McIntyre: “Oh, just that it ends with every piece of epic that you expect from the show, and it will. Every episode I’ve read feels like the ending episode of any other season. With the first episode we got I went, ‘That would end any other show ever, and if that’s where you’re starting, God knows where you’ll end.’ It will do every character that you love justice, and I’m very proud of that.”
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