ImageSex, violence, playing smart, playing crazy, getting naughty, getting nude, kissing butt and kicking butt.

When you're part of the cast of Spartacus: Vengeance, you have to be prepared for anything.

"And you'd better keep it real," said Lucy Lawless, who plays Lucretia.

"My inclination always is to make things schticky and funny. And you just have to sit so hard, particularly in the early days, on that urge.

"Because it quickly just becomes Meet The Spartans, you know?"

Lawless had a good chuckle at that, and she has plenty to smile about these days, with Spartacus: Vengeance debuting across Canada on Sunday, Jan. 29 on The Movie Network and Movie Central.

Originating on the Starz cable network in the United States, where it debuts two days earlier, Spartacus: Vengeance is a continuation of the series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which first aired in 2010. Liam McIntyre has inherited the title role from Andy Whitfield, who tragically lost his battle with cancer in 2011.

As for her character, clearly the top thing Lawless has to smile about is the fact that Lucretia still is with us in Spartacus: Vengeance. For anyone who saw the orgy of violence at the end of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Lucretia's survival was no sure thing.

"(Lucretia) quite rightfully has what today we would call post-traumatic stress disorder," Lawless said. "She has every reason to have had a psychotic break.

"And that was great, very challenging to play it, but I think I did all the wrong kind of research. Maybe to play crazy you don't actually have to go crazy. I think I did go a little bit crazy, just in the work arena. I didn't know where to put boundaries on my behaviour. I lost all my perspective and I really needed the director to guide me through.

"Anyway, it worked out all right in the end, but the season gets much more challenging than that in terms of acting."

In fact, having played an iconic TV character -- Xena: Warrior Princess -- in the past, it's her distinct lack of craziness that sets Lawless apart.

Frankly, while some actors struggle with their TV past and can be quite haughty about it, Lawless carries it better than any other actor we've seen.

Lawless has moved on professionally but remains completely comfortable with her honoured place in fanboy-geek culture. Not all actors exhibit such grace.

"Do other actresses get upset (when their past roles come up)? That must be exhausting," Lawless said.

"There are two elements there. First, I had a great time doing (Xena: Warrior Princess), it gave me everything, a husband, family, house, blah blah blah. So I'm really grateful for that.

"And also, I like you guys (media), so why would I treat you like that? You're hard-working, intelligent, pleasant people. What's not to like? So therefore, why would you pull a bloody status move on somebody?"

With such great perspective from Lucy Lawless on both her career and her character in Spartacus: Vengeance, let's hope Lucretia survives whatever orgies of violence are thrown her way for many years to come.