Interview: Manu Bennett On ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’, Andy Whitfield and More

manu-bennett

The final season of Spartacus: War of the Damned begins January 25th on Starz.  That’s tonight! We left off last season with Spartacus and his merry band of rebels facing the full might of the Roman legion, which are not against pulling shenanigans.

I was more than happy to sit down with Manu Bennett, who plays the undefeated Gaul and Spartacus BFF, Crixus.  Manu was passionate, assured, and especially candid as he spoke about his former co-star Andy Whitfield and what awaits Crixus in the new season. Generous to a fault, he also shared some spoils of war. (Note: This interview contains spoilers.)

The Flickcast: “Be Here Now” is emblazoned on your shirt.  Can you talk about why the phrase “Be Here Now” is important to you?

Manu Bennett: “Be Here Now” was a tattoo Andy [Whitfield] had on his forearm when he was going through his cancer treatment.  There’s a documentary that’s going to be coming out soon.

Rather than not being in the know about what happened to Andy, this documentary is for people who are really interested in the show and really fell in love with Andy and I know there’s so many people out there who did. I’m sure Andy would have liked everyone to go and watch this documentary to see what cancer can destroy in this life.

It took him away from his children and his wife.  Just to understand the tragedy of what cancer can really do to somebody filled with such great opportunity. He was such a brilliant guy and a wonderful actor.  So, it’s important- it’s another important reminder that something has to be done about cancer and with money and support they will find a cure one day.

TF: Where does Crixus find himself at the beginning of this season? How is his relationship with Spartacus affected by this war?

MB: We’ve become a much larger army now, a much larger force and that force could really find its way to freedom. There’s just a lot of decision making that goes on in this season about what is the cause and what have we done this for?

There’s a time when Spartacus begins to show his mercy to the enemy and the reason why he shows his mercy to the enemy is because he believes fundamentally in one thing – that everyone has the right for freedom and equality. At that point, when you’re in the middle of a war, not every general is going to agree with that strategy of well they’re okay. We’ve brought their city to the ground but now we’ll feed them and take care of them and they can have half our rations and Crassus [Marcus Licinius Crassus] is coming with his army to get us but we’ll still treat them well. Crixus is like c’mon, wait up Spartacus, are we at war or is this some other thing you’re doing now- is this more of a disciple movement you’re creating?

There’s this conflict that comes into this season and it comes at a very crucial time because it’s a time when we have to act.  We have to move quickly because the Romans are really starting to see us much more as not only a threat domestically.  If we were to make any more damage against their forces then there’s all of those outside influences to Rome that would see that as a point to attack as well. I think they have to squash this and squash this completely to make an example.  Which of course historically you know what the Romans did- the lengths they went to, to make sure that happened: the Appian Way, of having to bring in Crassus and two other major legions from overseas to squash the Spartacus movement right in the middle of Italy.

The scale of it this season is probably the biggest shift as far as the viewers are concerned, it becomes a war thousands and not just of a war of dozens.

crixus and naevia

TF: How has Crixus’ love for Naevia changed his character?

MB: It gives Crixus a value, something to truly live for, a purpose. That sort of relationship has changed each season in certain ways.  In this particular season that’s coming up it starts off with Crixus and Naevia being pretty much as happy as they can be. They’re part of a successful band of slaves that have managed to evade and gain their victory, but their victory isn’t won yet, they’re still in the middle of enemy territory.  But the two of them are side by side.

Naevia has overcome some of the fears and scars of her time when she got sent from the House of Batiatus to the mines.  She’s sort of risen above that now.  When we start off the season it’s all kind of happy and at the zenith of their relationship and then suddenly it goes [hand motions going off a cliff] almost immediately.  I read the first script and went, “Oh, that’s really nice we’re kinda like….uh oh.” Just when you feel safe the cliff comes up in our show.

You have to really watch your step in the land of Spartacus as cliffs abound both literally and figuratively. Crixus has made it pretty far indeed, but this season holds more enemies than can fit in one arena. Tune in Friday, January 25th on Starz to watch BFFs Crixus and Spartacus avoid cliffs of every kind, except of course, the fiscal ones.

Be sure to check out our interview with Spartacus himself, Liam McIntyre, for more scoop on the final season.

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