Back in September I wrote a post about my sadness over hearing that not only did Andy Whitfield's (right) cancer come back, but he would also be pulling out of Season 2 of Spartacus for good. Andy had a bit of a cult following after he starred in a low budget independent film called Gabriel and I was extremely pleased to see him get the role of Spartacus. With his piercing eyes, high cheekbones, strong jaw, deep but soothing voice, this was a man, an actor that brought something special to his characters. This was going to be his breakout performance and it was...
But when cancer only allowed him to give us 1 perfect, addictive season of the hit STARZ show, the cable network had to make a decision: cancel the series or try to undertake the daunting task of finding another Spartacus. With Andy's blessing, representatives began looking for a new male lead, someone who not only had the look of a gladiator but could act as well. It wasn't an easy process and Andy's sandals were hard to fill. Rumors floated around the cyber world for months. At one point Wentworth Miller of Prison Break fame showed interest. While some fans were excited at the prospect, others were not so kind, saying that Miller did not have the muscular frame nor could he pull off the accent.
Around December it was confirmed that casting had been narrowed down to 3 actors: Liam McIntyre, Aidan Turner (of All My Children fame, not to be confused with Being Human's Aidan Turner), and Stephen Amell. I personally had been rooting for Aidan Turner since he had the look, the accent, and the build.
However, this past week took an interesting turn when suddenly there was news that Dominic Purcell might be up for the role, another Prison Break star who had a huge fan following and known for his muscular physique and deep, booming voice. While Liam was still the favorite choice, STARZ representives were worried that the lean actor would not be able to build up enough muscle in time for Spring of 2011 which is when Season 2 resumes filming.
Well just a few days ago the cable network finally announced that Liam McIntyre IS the new Spartacus. They feel confident that Liam, who has been working out nonstop since his first audition, will be physically ready by the time cameras start rolling this Spring.
So how do I feel about it? I'm a bit on the fence. I like unknown actors and I have no doubt that Liam will be looking like a gladiator by Spring since we have seen big physical transformations such as Taylor Lautner promising to pack on 40+ pounds of muscle in order to keep his role as Jacob Black in the Twilight Saga or Gerard Butler as King Leonidas in 300. I guess why I hesitate to embrace this new actor is because I can't help but still see Andy as Spartacus. We are not talking about a minor character that is being replaced. However, I am relieved that the show will continue on. I'll admit that my other favorite character is Crixus and the romantic in me is dying to see what lengths he will go to in order to find Naevia.
All I can do is wait and see. In the meantime, the 6 episode prequel called Spartacus: Gods of the Arena starts this Friday at 10pm on STARZ. I wish Andy Whitfield a speedy recovery and will be keeping an eye on his future projects because I REFUSE to believe that man will succumb to cancer.
So what do you think? Is Liam McIntyre the new Spartacus?