There's a considerable amount of waste associated with most productions, especially a large-scale epic like "Spartacus," which returns to Starz for its final season, "War of the Damned," on Jan. 25. But according to titular star Liam McIntyre, much is done to conserve. "They've got a warehouse of costumes that they keep revising and adapting rather than completely making new things. In the offices, they're very conscious of waste paper. We weren't allowed to get scripts on a certain size paper because it wastes too many trees. They insist that you return scripts so they can break them down and recycle them. You can't take a script and chuck it in a bin. They do what they can to maintain a functional office, but a very Earth-conscious one, and I was appreciative of their efforts. I was very impressed with the way that they tried to maintain a balance."
McIntyre, who took over the role when the original Spartacus, Andy Whitfield, became ill and ultimately passed away, calls the experience "a journey of a lifetime, to come out of such unbelievable tragedy. I'm so grateful for the opportunity I've been given. I've gotten to grow so much this year. I've learned so many things from my fellow actors. I've gotten to be directed by incredible people. I got to work with truly great scripts that you just don't get. This year I was like, 'What else can I bring to this guy?' I'm just not that kind of strong, tough, unwavering guy in real life. So that was a fascinating challenge."
Spartacus is "a lot more no-nonsense this year," McIntyre continues. "He's not the questioning guy that he has been in the past about what he should be doing and how he should do it. He's a kick-ass, take-names kind of guy now. And he's been a lot of fun to play. The thing I like about Spartacus is he isn't necessarily a cut-and-dried hero character. He has to take stock of what does he want, what's it for, and what is he prepared to sacrifice to get it. He will be tested more than he ever has been."
One of those tests comes in the form of a new nemesis, the young Julius Caesar, who joins Crassus in the war to end the slave rebellion. Though little has been written about this part of Caesar's life, "it was probable that Caesar was part of this campaign against Spartacus, and that gave us just enough to hang our hat on," says series creator Steven S. DeKnight. Todd Lasance plays the role, and had about six weeks to immerse himself in Caesarean history. "I got as many books together as I could and did research online and tried to get an understanding for that particular time period."
As "Spartacus" audiences have come to expect, "there are many epic battles this season," assures DeKnight, noting that the first episode starts off with one. "There's a running battle that happens mid-season that I think is pretty damn cool. And, of course, we build to an epic conclusion, the biggest battle that we've ever attempted, which is truly spectacular and I'm still scratching my head how we actually pulled that one off."
Needless to say, the blood quotient is high. "A lot of the CG blood effects is actual fake blood that we explode, and push, and cut," DeKnight Points out. "We have these blood balloons and we shoot them against a green screen, usually with the actors smacking the sh*t out of them."
Having known in advance, during the writing phase for "Vengeance," that this would be the series' last season, DeKnight had "plenty of time to figure out where we were going to go. Ultimately, we thought that 10 episodes would give you the most bang for your buck. We would rather end this show on a high note at its most popular than drag it out for a couple more seasons and have the audience start to fall away and people starting to get bored. I thought it was a great opportunity to end it and really end it strong," he says, calling the final episode "a gut-wrenching finale. The last episode is called 'Victory' and it's a bit of an ironic title because it really explores how the rebels gained victory in defeat."
With the "Spartacus" saga coming to an end, DeKnight is turning his attention toward a new project that's "literally light-years away from 'Spartacus.' I'm developing a show for Starz called 'Incursion' that's set in the future. It's a science-fiction military show about this war on another planet."