In SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA, the prequel series to Starz’s SPARTACUS, Australian actor Dustin Clare plays Gannicus, the star righter among the gladiatorial troupe of the House of Batiatus. We didn’t see this character in last year’s SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND, but Clare suggests we may see him again after this season in our exclusive interview.
ASSIGNMENT X: Had you auditioned for the first season of SPARTACUS?
DUSTIN CLARE: No, I was working on another job, a series called SATISFACTION in Australia, on a network there.
AX: Were you a fan of the first series?
CLARE: Actually, I hadn’t seen the first series. I was asked to test for [GODS OF THE ARENA], and before I did, I wanted to watch the series to see if it was something I wanted to do. I watched it and I got into it and I thought, yeah, there was something interesting I could do with the character and I’m glad to come play with some swords.
AX: Before taking on the gladiator role, were you already a fairly fit person, or were you saying to yourself, “Oh, my God, what are they asking me to do?”
CLARE: [laughs] I have a good standard of fitness, but this is almost like an athletic standard of fitness, so I spent seven hours a day for three weeks, working out. There’s a big work life physically for the role and for all the [actors playing] gladiators for the show. There was a lot of training and a lot of not much eating. And my character fights with two swords, so you are also learning left-brain and right-brain action, which takes a little while to get down. I had a great set of trainers, so I’m very grateful for that.
AX: How does your character Gannicus feel about what he’s doing in the arena?
CLARE: He’s really confident in the arena. It’s one of the ways he detaches from the realities of his life. He’s really confident in the arena and he’s cocky and that all comes about because of his level of skill – he’s an extremely skilled fighter. [But] Gannicus is a very self-destructive character. He’s always trying to escape his reality and he does that through abusing things like alcohol to excess. There are a lot of contradictions in the character. That’s always a nice thing to play, not only physically when he’s in the arena.
Aboriginal Australian boxer Anthony Mundine is probably the most confident boxer you will ever see in the ring. They’re all very confident. But there’s only one reason, I think, you can be that confident when you are fighting in an arena, because you are extremely good at what you do. Anthony Mundine is very good at it, and I think Gannicus is as well. He uses the crowd like Anthony Mundine does. Preparation was all the normal preparation you do as an actor in terms of research and history and the accent. [Gannicus is] a very destructive character, a very self-destructive character, and he’s also probably got suicidal tendencies. He has a great relationship with Oenemaus [aka Doctore, played by Peter Mensah] and it’s kind of the saving grace.
AX: What is your character’s relationship like with his owner Batiatus?
CLARE: Gannicus is the top dog in the Ludus [gladiator training school], so there’s a good relationship between Batiatus and Gannicus, because he’s Batiatus’ most prized fighter. I mean, they need each other, really.
AX: And can you say if you’re going to be involved in the slave revolt later on, or is that a big spoiler?
CLARE: I think if you look at the history of [the character] Spartacus, Gannicus is obviously a part of the history of Spartacus.
AX: How is it performing opposite the CG backgrounds?
CLARE: It’s a whole new world and a new skill. It’s kind of where I think a lot of television is going, so yeah, it’s getting used to it – it’s good to have an opportunity to work in front of green screen. It’s just an imagination exercise, really – you have to imagine.
AX: Is it like when you were a kid, going, “Okay, I’m Batman”?
CLARE: Yeah, except I wasn’t so tired when I was a kid [laughs].
CLICK HERE for Part 1 of ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with GODS OF THE ARENA creator Steven S. DeKnight
CLICK HERE for Part 2 of ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with SPARTACUS creator Steven S. DeKnight
CLICK HERE for Part 3 of ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with SPARTACUS creator Steven S. DeKnight as he talks about what Season Two of the series will be
CLICK HERE for ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with GODS OF THE ARENA star LUCY LAWLESS
CLICK HERE for ASSIGNMENT X’s reviews of SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA and more news