Lucy Lawless in SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE | ©2012 Starz

Lucy Lawless in SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE | ©2012 Starz

Starz Network’s SPARTACUS series, Friday nights at 10 PM, has gone through almost as many tribulations as its legendary hero. The first season, SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND, starred Andy Whitfield as the Thracian warrior sent into slavery and trained as a gladiator, only to turn on his master and free his fellows. Then Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the production company did a prequel season, SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA, while waiting for Whitfield to recover. Sadly, Whitfield’s cancer returned. He gave his blessing to the producers to recast the role and passed away in September 2011. Liam McIntyre was chosen to step into Spartacus’ sandals, but he trained for months before officially being cast to play the role in the current season, SPARTACUS:VENGEANCE, as well as seasons to come.

Robert Tapert, an executive producer on the series along with his lomgtime producing partner Sam Raimi (the EVIL DEAD films, HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS) and SPARTACUS series creator Steven S. DeKnight, talks about where the series is now and where it may go.

ASSIGNMENT X: You’ve said Liam McIntyre worked for months getting into shape for the role before he was definitively cast – how many people were you doing that with at the same time?

ROBERT TAPERT: There were no others. We knew in August or September of 2010 that Andy had to step back. He just had to commit to [medical] treatment and was not going to be back in SPARTACUS. He was never going to be insurable again. And Liam was not a big guy, he was a real skinny guy. Of everyone we saw, Starz said, “We like him the best.” And we were afraid to say that, because he was so skinny. We spent four months beefing him up before they ordered the [third] series. A lot of people flew into New Zealand and screen-tested. We went through auditions and screen tests time and time again and he had ample opportunity to lose it, and he won.

AX: How do you feel Liam McIntyre is working out in the role? Is he fulfilling your hopes?

TAPERT: He’s great. And I warned him that it would take the audience a few episodes to warm to him. Some will love him [immediately], but by the end of this season, they will all love him.

AX: You and Sam Raimi started producing the HERCULES telefilms, which led to the series, in New Zealand back in 1994. You’re now making SPARTACUS in New Zealand. Has it gotten easier to make television there since you started way back when?

TAPERT: Much easier. The TV infrastructure has been built. Yes, it’s a much easier place to work.

Rob Tapert and Lucy Lawless at the SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE Premiere | ©2012 Sue Schneider

Rob Tapert and Lucy Lawless at the SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE Premiere | ©2012 Sue Schneider

AX: You’ve said you’re doing some things with SPARTACUS that you’re not sure you can do even now. Do you expect the show to continue to expand and push you technically?

TAPERT: Yes. It will always be pushing story, pushing technically.

AX: For the first two seasons, you shot all of the backgrounds as green screen. Now that Spartacus is traveling around, trying to recruit rebels, are you actually shooting out of doors in New Zealand?

TAPERT: We never leave the soundstage. It’s all done on the stage.

AX: Is it easier or harder to do green-screen buildings or green-screen outdoor environments?

TAPERT: It’s easier to do buildings. Environments are a little harder, but again, it’s great that you can control the [settings]. That’s the fun part.

AX: As you’re both in New Zealand, do you and Peter Jackson ever trade off materials or crew people?

TAPERT: No. He’s got his people and when he calls, the whole country comes running.

AX: Was your production affected at all by the big earthquakes last year in Christchurch, New Zealand?

TAPERT: No, but a lot of the people who work on the crew worked for the TV station that collapsed, so a lot of people lost people they knew in the collapse of the Christchurch television station.

AX: How much input do you have into the story? Does creator/show runner Steven DeKnight come to you and say, “This is what we want to do,” or do you ever say, “Wouldn’t it be cool if …?”

TAPERT: There’s a tiny bit of that. We have an overview at the beginning of each season where we say, “This is where we want to go, this is what it’s going to be, we want to do these kinds of things.” So the writers’ room is pretty much following the character landscape on a script by script basis, or an outline basis. We talk about, “Oh, we want this to go here,” and so on. But certainly now in the third season,  we’re on the same page.

AX: Steven DeKnight has said he thinks it will take about six seasons to tell the entire Spartacus story. Is that your view?

TAPERT: Four, five, six. It can be told in as long or short a time as Starz wants to have it.

Craig Parker, Viva Bianca, and Hanna Mangan Lawrence in SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE - "A Place In This World" | ©2012 Starz

Craig Parker, Viva Bianca, and Hanna Mangan Lawrence in SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE - "A Place In This World" | ©2012 Starz

AX: Will Starz let you know in enough time to wrap it up if you need to?

TAPERT: They would never leave the audience with an unhappy outcome of an unfinished series. They’ve committed to, “We’re going to make the show.”

AX: What would you most like people to know about SPARTACUS right now?

TAPERT: That this new season was a difficult one due to the circumstances of, this is the first time in dramatic TV that a lead [actor] has been changed out on a successful show, and it was something that we had to do, and I think that Liam will earn the respect of everyone who liked the show.

AX: Your real-life wife, actress Lucy Lawless, stars as Lucretia. She was originally supposed to die at the end of Season One, but she recovered from her wounds and is back in SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE. Will she be with the show beyond this season?

TAPERT: I can’t tell you that.

Related Link: Exclusive Interview with SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE star Manu Bennett

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Related Link: Steven S. De Knight talks about SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE – EXCLUSIVE

Related Link: AX’s exclusive interview with STEVEN S. DEKNIGHT on SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE

Related Link: AX’s exclusive interview with STEVEN S. DEKNIGHT reflecting on GODS OF THE ARENA – PT. 1

Related Link: AX’s exclusive interview with SPARTACUS star PETER MENSAH

Related Link: AX’s exclusive interview with SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA Dustin Clare

Related Link: Part 1 of ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with GODS OF THE ARENA creator Steven S. DeKnight

Related Link: Part 2 of ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with SPARTACUS creator Steven S. DeKnight

Related Link: 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

Related Link: ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with GODS OF THE ARENA star LUCY LAWLESS

Related Link: ASSIGNMENT X’s exclusive interview with GODS OF THE ARENA star LUCY LAWLESS

Related Link: ASSIGNMENT X’s reviews of SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA and more news

Article Source:Assignment X 
Article: Exclusive Interview with SPARTACUS VENGEANCE producer Robert Tapert

 

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Comments:

  1. Thanks for the interview. We don’t get many interviews with Rob about Spartacus.

    MaryD
  2. For Godsake Rob hire Renee—please…….

    tim

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