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January 26, 2012

'Spartacus: Vengeance': Lucy Lawless previews upcoming season

 The new season of STARZ hit show Spartacus debuts this week as ‘Spartacus: Vengeance’ on Friday, January 27 at 10pm ET/PT.  The one-hour, ten episode series, which has already been picked up for a third season, stars Liam McIntyre, who took over the title role from the late Andy Whitfield, Lucy Lawless,  Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, Dustin Clare, Nick E. Tarabay and Katrina Law. In the premiere episode entitled ‘Fugitivus,’ Spartacus discovers the grave responsibilities and costs involved in his new role as a leader of freed slaves. Claudius Glaber’s arrival in Capua forces Spartacus to keep his rebellious band intact.

Lawless, who plays Lucretia on the hit show, chatted with reporters about the upcoming season. During the conversation, she talked about continuing the series without on-screen husband John Hanna, her character’s state of mind at the beginning of season two and Lucretia’s rivalry with Ilithyia (played by Viva Bianca).

Here are some highlights of the conversation below:

On when we last saw Lucretia who had lost her husband and her child in the most brutal way:

My character goes from having everything and being on the make on the up and up with her husband to losing everything, her husband, her baby, her lover, her house, her status and also her marbles.. So it's going to be - she's going to have to claw her way back to any kind of safety. And she's in a pit of vipers so she better watch out.

How does Lawless feels about Hannah’s leaving the show:

: I miss John a lot, not just because of who he is but because I miss the aspect of love in Lucretia's life. Somebody does in fact fall in love with her but the course of that love never did run smooth and certainly not in this case. So I don't want to give away too much but, yes, she does have two - I don't want to say romantic partners. But she enters into relationships with two people but Batiatus is never replaceable in her heart.Well certainly for my character, there is - well a couple of things actually. You know, I miss the love relationship in my character’s life. I miss that - John and I had a great sort of couple connection. I found it very easy to put him in the husband role in my life, at least on set. And I think for the show, you do lose - it’s kind of Tony Soprano, he does terrible things. He’s a treacherous man, but he - but you love him all the same. So fortunately, we have plenty of that in the women, and now we - our - we’ve got a few new Roman men who are pretty rotten themselves, so whether they can recreate that kind of love from the audience is going to be up to the audience to decide. But yes, we miss him. Not too much though.

On her rivalry with Ilithyia (played by Viva Bianca) who’s taking care of Lucretia after her tragic loss:

Needless to say, Lucretia and Ilithyia continues to have a very fraught relationship.  Lucretia has to work very hard to make Ilithyia care about her again. And - or at least need her, because Ilithyia just wants her dead. I imagine it would be a difficult situation, it being especially after, you know, she - Lucretia lost her baby. And now Ilithyia is pregnant. Lucretia's lost everything. She's even lost her marbles, so that's the least of her worries.

Does she ever has a desire to pick up a sword and "fight along with the boys":

Not even once. It's a stinky, smelly world down there. I have no intention of going. I'm going to sit up with Ilithyia and eat Turkish Delight.

On the violent scenes in the show, is she ever surprised by them:

Always surprised, but they look - we're not affected because they never look that way in actuality. It's all done in post, you know. Quite brilliant.

On speaking about the show’s nudity scenes and how she and husband producer Robert Gerard Tapert handle them:  

He's not on the set. And it's all inhibiting. So no, we've never…it's very hard for us to be comfortable with nudity and sex scenes. I've tried; I want to be cooler about it. But I'm just not. But if you believe in it, it's important to the scene.

On the intense sex scenes on the show:

Oh let me tell you, this does great things for the viewer's sex life. Not so much for the participants. It's like a version of therapy. Sometimes I do need a hug because it's harrowing. It's really harrowing.

On the challenges of season two versus season one:

You know what, it gets - I've done things again this season that I've never, ever done before and never seen on television before. And it was very heavy duty. There were days when I would just go home and have a - just have a quiet little melt-down and be, you know, just go to sleep. Because it was so demanding emotionally.
On returning to Comic-Con San Diego for her roles on Battlestar Galactica and Xena, etc:

Oh gosh I don't know. I think I've been there pretty much 15 years in a row, so I'm sure - do they really need me? I'm like that brass pig in the corner that you touch for luck, you know ..I do love it though. I love the fans, I'm really grateful to them for everything they've given me. So I don't know, we'll see.

On her prequel role in “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena”: 

: You got the very rare chance to revisit your character and see what formed them, which was such a pleasure. Oh my god, I was so lucky. And it really helped round out the character - her softness. Her potential for hope and, you know, because she could default to that. If Ilithyia would just be kind to her, Lucretia would be kind back, but Ilithyia doesn't know how. So therefore Lucretia has to stamp on her to kick her - finish her off.
On her guest appearance on “Burn Notice”:

Well, I must say that I was at a time in my life sick to death of acting, just wanted to give it up and Bruce Campbell convinced me to come down and do an episode and so I did. I was a bit pissed off at the world.  And I had some other role I'd just done. I had these big gold fake fingernails stuck on. I'd thought I'd just keep them for the role. Anyway, at some point, Jeff Donovan's character is supposed to still be in love with me. I just didn't really see how. But anyway he had some sort of a rescue scene to rescue me and at some point I lift my hand up there and it's scripted that I touch his face and when I saw the episode like this great big (mudgepole) with big gold claws and it was like a man's hand. And I was trying to touch Jeffrey Donovan on the face…    Yeah, there's a lot of things I remember about that episode and shooting that with those guys which was really fun and he's brilliant but unfortunately my character just had to die. So I suggested that they hire Grace Park and Tricia Helfer from BSG because they were looking for women who could carry off that sort of action.

On how she is able to adjust from being on the ancient set of the show versus the real world of   cars, cell phones, computers, laptops, assistants, etc:

: It's really important to be able to walk away from the modern world, away from your family, away from your relationship and go into this, you know, this make-believe world of ancient Rome. It's helpful to have that universe separate from your own.” It's like having a second life. It's like having a virtual life experience. And I just love it. I've had a really crazy ride as Lucretia this season. The most intense stuff I've ever shot. And I'm really grateful. That's [cell phones, etc] banned from our set.
On the show adding new characters and how they will affect the dynamic of the show this season:

In the Roman world comes these two Seppia and Seppius, a brother and sister duo and they're a funky little pair and something weird is up with them so keep watching those two. They're going to be trouble one way or another. So we're on the run and it really creates great dynamics between our characters but then we get new characters that get introduced as the season goes along which really
mix things up and challenge the existing status quo of the brotherhood as it where. It's great. There will be new blood in the brotherhood and some very interesting characters emerging out of that. A young woman in particular, Ellen [Holman]. And the reemergence of the most excellent Nick Tarbay's character Ashur. Ashur's the sly one, the one that goes between worlds.

On Lucretia’s reaction to Ashur:

He's a touchstone to her past and to her husband. So she can't remember much but he stirs something in her and look for more developments there Because Nick and I talk about this all the time, we find our characters very much the same, really motivated by to survive in way they can. All bets are off with the two of them so look at if they pair up.

On what advice would Lucy give to Lucretia who’s in such a bad place at the beginning of this season, what would she tell her:

Just to keep breathing and pay attention to all the people around her, as she does, and it’ll all work out fine. And in the end, Lucretia gets everything she wants.
Does she see any of yourself in Lucretia:

I don’t like to talk acting technique unless people are really serious about it themselves. But if you boil it down, the trick is to have as wide an experience of yourself in as many situations in life that you can draw on different threads of yourself and your past to - and weave them together to make separate characters that all rooted in truth and yet completely distinct. So you shouldn’t see too - any of Xena in Lucretia for example; however, they’re all part of - taken with impulses that I have felt or can extrapolate out to make this character real.

On the costumes and the set:

It’s not a short process, so you've got a an hour and a half minimum every day to - for that character to sort of happen, and I think we just are so accustomed to it that we don’t even realize that’s such a part of our process you know. Yes. We have a huge workshop of leather craftsmen, jewelry, people dying, and specialists. People who make things with rubber and resins and all -whatnot. And obviously, the costume sewing you know people in design. They’re an incredible team.

On giving advice to actors:

I’ve given up giving advice.Pay attention, because it’s like your career is like a marriage. There are good years and bad years…  And if you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you're with. That was a big one. It was so hard. I tell you what, it was really hard, and I completely lost my perspective. I maybe did too much research. Maybe the wrong kind of research, and I really needed my directors to guide me to set parameters. Because yes, you - trust me. Sometimes I went big, and my personal inclination is always just to do shtick and just turn it into slapstick. You know but obviously that’s not going to work on this show, so I had to sit on that urge very hard.And I don’t know. It’s difficult. I haven’t had much experience with madness, but I have met post traumatic stress disorder before, and I believe that’s a justifiable outcome given all she’s been through. And you will find out how she survived by the way. That will be revealed in the fullness of time.
On playing strong woman characters and making each one different:

Lucy: I like if the person appears to be strong, I want to show their vulnerability. I want... if the person appears to be evil, I want to show their love, their capacity for love. I want to bring the flipside of their humanity through so that you will relate, whether they’re a good person or not. Even if they’re a wicked person, I try to make you relate and maybe even love them. So that’s my mission in life. And if they’re a really good - you know,  if they are an upstanding citizen, I want to show their vulnerability and frailty…  Light and shade. Light and shade.
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