Spartacus: War of the Damned leading man Liam McIntyre says Starz spared no expense with regard to the show’s impending series finale. “There are 500 special effect shots on average for each individual episode,” explains the actor. “There are over 900 special effects in the final episode, which basically means there’s a special effect every four seconds. That tells you how epic it is.”
But first things first: The second of 10 episodes airs tonight (9/8c) and marks the arrival of two key players — new rival Caesar and possible love interest Laeta. During a chat this week in New York, McIntyre previewed their arrivals, weighed in on his new uniform (or lack thereof) and hinted at a situation that causes his character “to break out the sexual chemistry card” — but from where? (Spartacus’ get-up is many things, but “riddled with pockets” sure isn’t one of ’em). In fact, that’s where our conversation started:
TVLINE | Your new “uniform” has a sizeable…
TVLINE | Yes. That. How did you feel about that?
The biggest part of last season was realizing that G-strings were no longer weird. [Laughs] Codpiece? That’s fine.
TVLINE | My readers — and I do mean my readers — would like to know if Spartacus is going to go full-frontal this season.
For me? No. Sorry. From others? Yes. Frequently. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Did you add a no-nudity clause to your contract?
No. But nobody had the guts to ask, so who was I to argue? [Laughs]
TVLINE | How do this season’s villains measure up to previous Spartacus villains?
Last season, I had the horribly difficult task of measuring up to the legendary [Andy Whitfield]. And this year I sat there thinking, “God, these [new] guys have a really rough gig.” Spartacus is almost more famous for its bad guys than its good guys. But they’re entirely separate [characters] and entirely their own, which is quite a testament to their performances. I think Crassus [played by Simon Merrells] is unlike any other villain. He thinks like Spartacus. They’re like different sides of the same coin. I think Simon’s performance is the standout of the series so far. Then Todd [Lasance] comes along [in Episode 2] playing Cesar. You’ve never seen a Cesar like that. You’ve never seen Cesar in that era, kind of being a sexy, roguish devil. I see him as like a young Brad Pitt. He’s electrifying.
TVLINE | Do we have to wait until the end of the season for the Spartacus-Crassus or Spartacus-Caesar confrontation?
No, there are moments throughout. There are a few different times throughout [the season] where they do intermingle; it gets quite interesting.
TVLINE | What about Crassus’ son, Tiberius?
He’s cool. Great actor. He’s got a cool journey.
TVLINE | I sense romance ahead for Spartacus and his redheaded prisoner, Laeta [who also arrives in Episode 2].
One thing I learned from watching Andy’s version of Spartacus was that he was a bit of a player back in day. At the stage where he meets Laeta he needs some pretty big favors, so he decides to break out the sexual chemistry card. There are some moments [between them].
TVLINE | Were you at all disappointed that a Spartacus and Illythia romance wasn’t explored further? She was carrying his child, after all.
I want the last frame of the last episode, after the credits roll, to be their child’s hand coming over the cliff. That would be the spin-off: Caesar vs. The Spartacus Baby. [Laughs] Back in the early days of Spartacus, I was one of the people who was like, “Come on, Spartacus and Illythia — that so works.” It’s so wrong but it’s so right. But it wasn’t meant to be.
TVLINE | What else can you tell me about the finale?
It’s everything I hoped it would be. I’ve seen a rough [cut]. It’s heartbreakingly, devastatingly strong. And I’m almost happy with my performance for a change, which is nice. [Laughs] Everyone brings their A-game. I was exhausted at the end. Just totally worn. I was even bringing [the emotions] home with me after work. I would just cry for no reason. Just totally, crazy, heavy stuff. Technically, [the episode] was twice as big as anything we’d ever done. It’s a good way to go [out]. It’s a very high standard for ending a series. And you [rarely] get to do that on television. I’m very proud.
TVLINE | What’s next for you?
Find a house in Los Angeles.
TVLINE | Will you go out for pilot season?
Totally. I’ve got a bunch of opportunities I would have never had three years ago.