While the first two episodes of Spartacus: Vengeance have been sent out to critics already, at the TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour today, we actually were shown a scene from the fifth episode of the season – what we were told was just a piece of a much larger, twelve minute sequence. Without going into super spoilery specifics, I will say it involves the return of Gannicus from Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, almost the entire main cast of the series, and involves copious amounts of bloodshed (of course) and some very big action beats, involving large crowds and plenty of destruction. In short: it was awesome.
During the Q&A that followed, executive producer Steven DeKnight noted they always want to make things big and bold on Spartacus. In the first episode of Vengeance, when Spartacus needs information, he and his men need to attack a brothel. Laughed DeKnight, "Brothel attack! And you just can't go wrong with a title like that. There's a very emotional story that goes with that. But you just don't want to go in and attack some guys and get some information. You want to attack a brothel!"
New Spartacus star Liam McIntyre recalled his long process getting the role and how it was an "exciting time." McIntyre had just lost 45 pounds for another project, and so had a lot of work to do to prove he could bulk up for the role. He was given a military trainer and began a massive workout regimen, still not knowing he absolutely had the role. After about three or four months, he finally got the call that the role was his. "They finally put me out of my misery and said, 'Keep training… It was like nothing I'd ever experienced before."
Lucy Lawless is back as a very damaged Lucretia, and the actress said that for her character, "The torment does continue." She said that Lucretia has "Fresh torments when I enter into a relationship with a man I never paid attention to before," before coyly adding, "Lucretia's dreams come true."
As Lawless noted, this is seemingly, "a softer, gentler Lucretia, which is very unnerving for Ilithyia. There's lots of ups and downs there. Lots of skullduggery." She laughed, "The writers were really rude to me this year. Cruel and unusual punishment. As an artist, I loved it. They put me through the ringer this season and I'm so grateful."
McIntyre said he was having "so much fun" as Spartacus, saying it was easy to tap into childhood memories of playing, in a role where he's, "Fighting the battle for the good and just cause in the world."
McIntyre noted that Spartacus is a natural leader, and he and DeKnight said that Vengeance would find Spartacus really finding himself figuring out that role, with DeKnight remarking, "that journey is very difficult."
Obviously, the tragic death of original Spartacus star Andy Whitfield weighs heavily for everyone on the show. McIntyre said it was, "the saddest thing I've ever had to be a part of," noting that initially he only felt comfortable taking over the role from Whitfield, because, "I knew he'd get better."
McIntyre recalled the day the cast and crew were given the news on set, noting, "I'd never seen a sadder person than producer who had to pass that news on." McIntyre remembered Whitfield telling him in an email, after he got the role, that the Spartacus cast and crew were like a family, and how he felt the truth of that in the wake of Whitfield's death. He said that after everyone mourned, the general feeling was, "We owe Andy the respect to do the best job we can. Let's come together and do the best damn show we can."