Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
Besides lots of bloodshed, Manu Bennett says there are no guarantees when it comes to Friday's Spartacus: Gods of the Arena finale (Starz, 10/9c).
"Nothing means anything," he tells TVGuide.com. "Episode 6 has a big turn of events that creates the unexpected. That's kind of the nature of our show. It's not always happy or what everybody wants or expects, but there's a lot in store that will change the dynamics again."
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When last we saw Crixus (Bennett), he had ascended to the top of the ludus heap by defeating Gannicus (Dustin Clare). Fresh off his victory, however, Crixus was reminded of his slave status when he was ordered to act as a stud for Lucretia (Lucy Lawless).
"Put it this way: When you're living in the dungeon and somebody invites you into the penthouse, it's not exactly a situation that you're going to see as an inconvenience," Bennett says. "Anybody who's fighting to survive like Crixus is, you quickly calculate what the wager is and how you're going to deal with it. I think that Crixus has realized that by the time he's run through Auctus and has had to fight and kill men, that life is no longer about asking for favors. It's about survival in a brutal world and learning to play the game."
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That's not an overstatement. Besides the gladiators who've fallen in the arena, Spartacus recently killed off several characters in the House of Batiatus for underestimating another person's desire for power. Of the new faces in the prequel who weren't seen in Season 1, only Gannicus remains. The finale will determine his fate and whether or not we'll expect to see him when the second season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand airs.
"Well, there's probably a lot of characters that the audience is expecting not to appear but may reappear in some given point in time," Bennett says cryptically. "It's this very strange interaction of sticking people into this one small environment and then shaking the jar as hard as you can and then seeing what happens when whoever survives walks out."
Read more to find out what Bennett has to say about Season 2, including his first meeting with Andy Whitfield's replacement, Liam McIntyre, what's in store for the newly liberated gladiators and Crixus' love, Naevia.
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What's your take on Liam McIntyre?
Manu Bennett: I screen-tested with him. He's a very honest and truthful person. I think that's what we need because of the subject matter and because of the essential values of the legend of Spartacus, it needs quite a bit of truth. It's not going to be Andy, and that in itself is almost unthinkable but at the same time we're manifesting a heroic tale that everyone's identified with, that still resonates. It needs people to really set themselves to the task of showing what a hard journey is about. You've got to live and be aware of emotions and honesty and truth to bring these characters to full fruition.
Would you characterize Season 2 as more of a journey tale now that the slaves have freed themselves from the ludus?
Bennett: Yes, it's about what happens when a group of people unequipped to survive in the outside world are thrust into it. It's a worse position than what they had when they were in their safe little cells. It only gets worse. They might be on the run, but they're not in a comfort zone, that's for sure. There's a hell of a lot more drama to unfold on our show. It really becomes moreso now a test on the production side. We've got to become part of the landscape of Italy and be running around and stuff like that.
Will the group of rebels still have to deal with dramas inside their group?
Bennett: Crixus, Spartacus and Oenomaus all have different ideas of what's right. Anyone can go back into the history books and find out what really happened. We're not deviate from that, but some people may think the storyline between Crixus and Spartacus has suddenly resolved itself at the end of Season 1 and they're friends now. Well, forget that! Once they get out there into the world and begin campaign against the Roman army you can be sure that Crixus and Spartacus aren't going to have the same perspectives of how to go about that. That's going to be one of the complexities that will build the drama.
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Now that Crixus is out, will he and Naevia be reunited?
Bennett: He'll look for her, that's what I heard. The Naevia storyline, that romantic storyline, has become a huge part of the fan base. It was the main relationship storyline from Season 1, and I think there will more in the Crixus/Naevia story than even existed before.
You lost weight to play the slave-turned-gladiator in the prequel. Are you bulking up again for Season 2?
Bennett: Yeah in order to match the first season, I've got to go the other way again. It wasn't easy to lose the weight and it's not easy to put it back on again. You just work hard. We've got four weeks of boot camp coming up so that will help finish up what I'm working on now. Food is the essential thing to gaining weight. Protein, you know, that's basically it, protein.
Who do you think dies in the prequel's finale? What do you hope to see in Season 2?