Earlier today, we got the opportunity to talk to Steven S. DeKnight, the creator, writer, and executive producer of the Starz hit, “Spartacus: Blood & Sand.” DeKnight is currently promoting the upcoming prequel series  “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” which airs on Friday January 21. Just yesterday it was announced that Australian actor Liam McIntyre would replace Andy Whitfield in the title role of “Blood & Sand” when it returns for season two. DeKnight revealed why McIntyre was chosen for the part, and what we can expect from the character in the future.

On Whitfield’s departure, McIntyre’s arrival, and the future of Spartacus:

“We’re obviously deeply saddened that Andy couldn’t continue with us, he was a huge part of the show’s success and we wish him the best and a speedy recovery. We did an exhaustive search to find someone not to replace Andy but to step into the role of Spartacus and we feel very fortunate that we were able to find Liam who we felt really embodied everything we were looking for in the character moving forward.”

With the personal battle that Whitfield is facing [he's currently battling cancer], his former co-stars still stand behind him. Manu Bennett who plays Crixus on the show stated, “We’re all praying for him. We are all in huge support of Andy. We are all so deeply saddened.”

As for “Gods of the Arena” we’ve noticed that the promos never specify how early the events take place. DeKnight clarified it a bit, but also revealed that they’ve been purposely vague with the timeline.

“We never actually specify an exact time during the show. I’ve seen some things that say it’s five years before. It’s vaguely in that area. We were very careful to actually not say how long ago it was. But you could infer from things that have happened that it’s probably in the neighborhood of five years.”

As for the connection between the prequel and “Blood & Sand.” DeKnight says that there will be a direct correlation between the two.

“Absolutely! I never wanted to do just a prequel. I wanted it to inform season one and to really enrich season two. It is very much the connective tissue between both seasons.”

Even though he wouldn’t reveal major spoilers, the creator exclaimed that season two of “Blood & Sand” will be “extra sweet, and “a hell of a ride.”

The show is expected to begin production this spring.

Are you going to watch Gods of the Arena this Friday? Are you excited for season two and the new Spartacus?