Spartacus interview #3 (of 5): Manu Bennett

A tv interview article by: Karyn Pinter

This year’s San Diego Comic Con definitely proved that if you’re willing to fight for it, you’ll get to see something good. Stepping up and fighting for a spot in the press room for the upcoming season ofSpartacus was certainly worth the experience. I’d like to present a press round table in five parts. Now in part three we talk with Manu Bennett, the smoldering and challenged champion, Crixus. 



Question: So you have a score to settle... you're on your way and your free and you have a score to settle with Gannicus. Is that like gonna happen? 

Manu Bennett: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh. You know, there was, there was words exchanged at the end of the prequel you know, that were along the lines of, you know, we've not crossed swords in proper challenge. 

Question: Right, it's on the table. 

Bennett: Yeah, you know? That's one of those things that's out there. Uh, there's a lot of scores to settle on the show. I don't think I'd place that one as being the most important, uh...

Question: Are you gonna run into him, or no? 

Bennett: Well you know, it's… it's a big possibility. Yeah, yeah, you know I can't give away any plot points. But, you know, I'm sure that all the characters that the fans expect to see will show up at some stage and uh, even the characters they don't expect to see. *laugh* Like Lucretia... are gonna pop out of there at some point as well, you know? Um. It's um... but I mean, you know, the season's called Vengeance and uh you know, so I mean, that's where a lot more of the energy lies. You know I don't think I have vengeance against Gannicus necessarily. I have an eagerness to uh test my metal against him, but you know, this season's definitely more about retribution. But on both ends, you know? The Romans are gonna want vengeance on us for, you know, for staining their pride, and… we now have swords in our hands and we're free men but we're in the middle of the enemy's country. So we... if they can find us we'll take our vengeance upon them. You know there's a lot of things that are plotted through the, uh, through the series, so far that… even more reason to want vengeance, you know? So, it's a good title for this season. 

Question: How do you like working with Liam? The new guy. 

Bennett: Oh, Liam's just awesome. And I say that without that, without that "oh I've been told to say he's awesome." You know? I met Liam in the trailer before his audition, you know while we were shooting the prequel and uh, I looked him in the eyes and all the other guys in the eyes that were there for the reading and Liam's eyes were honest. And um, uh, conviction. Yeah, conviction and honesty. And I just knew that there was quality in him to do this right. And at the time, I think he'd done a film and he'd lost all of his weight so I was looking at this skinny guy and those comments were flying around in the beginning, you know? Can they get him up to size? Can they do all that? Liam arrived uh, two weeks out, three weeks out from starting shooting season two and I saw all the work that he'd put in on the physical side and then I knew he was gonna kick it out of the park. You know what I mean? Every scene that I do with him I feel the same amount of electricity, the same amount of needed drama, the same amount of conviction and honesty as … Andy had unmatchable quality, unmatchable. You can't replace him. His um, his charisma. His um...

Question: Presence?

Bennett: Yeah, his presence. Like no James Bond will ever be the same. You know, but each of them has something, you know? Something good. Luckily we didn't get George Lazenby to play. We got a good one. We got a good one, and uh, I'm really excited to see the reaction to the trailer. Cos, you know, Liam's been under a lot of pressure, you know? And he's ten years younger than Andy, ten years younger… you feel like he had to… take on these massive responsibilities as a 27 year old and… he's, he's... but he's got that same conviction. And he's one of those straight shooters too. He's got very strong beliefs. He doesn't drink alcohol, he's... every moment you talk with this guy he's the person you see. It's the person you get. He doesn't have any pretense what so ever, I mean it's funny being in LA, in Hollywood with him. He has no pretense, you know? Um, and I'm glad of the honesty and his personality and he's not acting. He's really being the guy that he is, which is just superb. Very good opportunity for Liam McIntyre.

Question: When the first season ended, you could kind of say there was an alliance between Crixus and Spartacus. They were kind of battling it out, can you talk a little bit about where they're at, like, in their relationship, now that they are? 

Bennett: Put everything that I've just said aside *laugh* and let's talk about Crixus. Okay, well, I mean there was nothing really in season one, I mean I know that people think that the tapping of the shield was like the big handshake and the hug and that. You know, there was nothing really, that one of the things that I've always worked with Andy on and um, I'm workin' with Liam on as well is, that there's conflict and drama. And it's best in the show to keep on, not just accepting... and it's a very difficult scenario, it's sort of, uh sudden, you shake someone's hand and say I share your spirit. Uh, and I don't think any of that happened in the first season and uh, as we go into the second season, it's like being a prisoner of war camp and... a Frenchman, an Englishman and an American all jump the wall and find themselves in the forest. And they're like, "which way should we go?" One guy goes, to Los Angeles, the other goes to Paris, the other guy goes to London. You know, it's going to be from very different points of view, of what... who leads, of what the leadership means in the season. 

Question: Are they staying together, or? 

Bennett: Well, you know, I can't tell you that. But the leadership will be challenged again, and again, and again and if you read the history books then you'll know that at some stage there's a departure of um, leadership as well. But, when Steven DeKnight chooses to plot point that…that's really up to him and the stars. 

Question: Will your character change a little bit now?

Bennett: I'm always changing, all of the time. And one of the things that I'm really thankful for is to act the character of Crixus is that he's always changing. He's always having to confront something, either of the heart or of the … a physical challenge. Er, or the darkness, you know? Something... there's things in the mix guys, that makes this season for me especially interesting and challenging. There's things of the heart, there's thing about manhood, and leadership and evolution in that regard. Uh, they keep on changing, the characters, and my character especially, well it feels like that to me anyway. I think that's what makes our show very interesting for the audience is that the stagnation of potentially one set, one neighborhood, one office, one whatever, is not the case with our show. And one of the great things about this season is that instead of being shot around the ludus and the fighting arenas, we actually go out into the real world. And I think one of the biggest challenges everybody facing on our end is what is that world going to look like? And on a television budget can you do it? Can you have a great result? You know, I think episode one of season one was kind of like a pretty challenging episode for our creative team because they had to start up with nothing and there was a lot of criticism about how that world looked a bit unreal and a bit whatever. When you see the trailer tonight, if you go in there. Have a look at the shot of the mines. An aerial shot of these mines, it looks like the diamond mines in Africa in detail, like from up in the sky and you dive into it... and it's like "how are we doing this on this budget? How did we do that?" Yeah, yeah, it's... from what I've seen and I saw it last night, the trailer - the world that we're in looks amazing. Forests, mountains, valleys, rivers, you know, seaside villages, everything. 

Question: You think you'll run into the character Ashur again? 

Bennett: He didn't die. He didn't die and he's a sneaky bugger. Everyone knows he's gonna show up at some stage. It's called vengeance! 

Question: Will there be a reuniting of Crixus and Naevia in the upcoming season? 

Bennett: Well we gotta find out what happened to her. We have to, we need to find out what happened to her. You know? Um. That's definitely, one of… one of Crixus' intentions immediately in season two is to find out what happened to Naevia. 

Question: Would you say that Gods of the Arena helped you understand Crixus better? To see how he started out? 

Bennett: I think it helped me, I think it helped the public, I think it helped the audience. It was a really strong tool for the show. Yeah, it really humanized all of the characters. Oenomaus, even Batiatus, you know, Batiatus' tortured soul so um, so it really gave us a feeling of uh, why he had to be so, quite so hard. I sympathized with him, you know? When I was watching the prequel, I was gettin' like "ah, bloody hell. Poor Batiatus." There's a lot in store. Luckily the writers keep everyone changing in a way that I think is just going to engage the public just as much, even better, we're getting better at the production end of it, you know, the frames comes up the screen better. I think season one and two were a little bit flat screened, now it's all coming out. Who knows, maybe season three in 3D.

Question: Thank you very much!


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