Tonight, is the night that gladiators and statesman return to the Starz network with the prequel series, “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.” The show takes place several years before the arrival of the title character and focuses on another all star champion: Gannicus. Gannicus is played by Australian actor Dustin Clare, and we recently had the opportunity to speak with him and the lovely Jaime Murray (“Dexter“) who plays Gaia on the show. The newbies add more intrigue and sex appeal (is that even possible?) to the series, and they’ll be the ones to watch as the story of “Gods of the Arena” unfolds.
Without further ado, allow us to introduce you to Gannicus and Gaia…
How did you get pulled into the world of Spartacus? Did you blindly audition or did someone bring it to your attention?
Dustin Clare: No, Rob [Tapert, producer] had actually seen my work in a previous series in Australia and was really interested in having me on his show. And, you know, I hadn’t seen the show so I made a point of watching all 13 episodes over the first series before I decided to test for it.
And then, you know, I thought there was something interesting I could do for the role and, you know, the network test came up so I went and tested and then I got the role and then I moved to New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud, to film, which is a lovely country I must say.
Jaime, what about you?
Jaime Murray: I didn’t meet anyone on the team until I arrived in New Zealand. I was filming a show in Toronto and I was just coming to the end of the shoot. And, initially, I hadn’t seen the show and I read it and I was like whoa, ‘What the hell is this?’ You know, the language is just so rich and flowery and I had just fell in love with it. And I put myself on tape and then other actors chipped in, (with my little dog running in the background )and that’s how I got the job.
Dustin, how was it playing the new guy? Can you describe your character a bit?
DC: The new guy’s always great because, you know, you get to go in fresh with your own choices and you get to bring new life and breath kind of a new energy into something that’s already established. I play Gannicus. Gannicus is a pretty self-destructive gladiator who I modeled really on Anthony Mundine from the boxing arena. He’s very confident and a cocky fighter, but extremely skilled.
Gannicus has an extreme amount of skill, but he’s very self destructive and he’s always trying to escape his reality. And, yeah, he was an interesting character who we get to really unpick through the six episodes. And we have a great story line and a great opportunity to see this man rise within everything that kind of keeps him down.
Jaime, your character is an old friend of Lucretia’s (Lucy Lawless), who seems to be a bit of a social climber. Do you think she genuinely cares for her or is she just using her to get ahead?
JM: I think it could be both, but I do think, yeah, she genuinely loves Lucretia. She doesn’t really have much in the world. You know, it’s a time where women had very little power, they couldn’t vote, they couldn’t own property, they had to be married. It was really looked down on for a woman to be without a husband and she finds herself alone in the world and Lucretia is all she has.
Dustin can you talk about how intense the training is for the show? You play a very successful gladiator, and you have to look the part.
DC: The training this year was slightly scaled down in boot camp to what they had in the first season. It was two weeks. I had three weeks and for myself it was four hours in the morning of circuit training, stunt training and then a lunch break for an hour and then two hours of sword training and then an hour sleep and then one hour in the pool. So it was about seven hours of pretty intense training for me.
Jamie, how does it feel to be a part of this boy’s club? There are a lot of scantily clad guys on the show. Is it hard to get used to?
JM: Well that’s been my whole career really I think, as an artist in this show, as an actor in this show, so much of it relies on trust. I mean, I think to be a good artist, to be a good actor, you really need to trust the people that you’re working with. In this show it has a lot of physicality, whether you’re a gladiator or whether you’re a scantily clad lady. I really had to look in the eyes of John [Hannah] and Lucy and the actors that I was working with and trust them 100%.
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena airs on Starz January 21, at 10 pm. Tune in!