"When you talk about it, it sounds like you're doing a lot of sex scenes, but I don't feel like I do that much," she says. "My concern was that it fit with the story and that there wasn't any gratuitous sex in this, and it doesn't really trouble me as long as it's relevant to the scene. It's part of the story that they're around in various states of undress. Human beings have always had sex, and a lot of business got done during these transactions. That's what the sex is about."

For Lucretia, the business of sex is to provide her husband, gladiator school owner Batiatus (John Hannah), with an heir -- any which way she can, including sleeping with the gladiators at the camp. "She begins, what I think, is quite an abusive relationship with the chief gladiator, the champion, hoping that he might impregnate her," Lawless says. "She's desperate."

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