Liam McIntyre says playing the title role in the new season of "Spartacus" is everything he hoped it would be, "plus 1000," and adds that he is honored to "carry on this legacy," following the death of Andy Whitfield.
The cable show features explicit sex and violence, gladiators, plenty of revenge and a whole lot of fighting. Its first season, "Blood and Sand," received solid ratings following its 2010 debut. Whitfield played the title role, a slave who becomes a gladiator, and died last year after battling cancer.
McIntyre takes over the part in the new season, which is called "Spartacus: Vengeance" and debuts on Friday, January 27, at 10 p.m. ET. The 29-year-old Australian actor talked to OnTheRedCarpet.com at the show's recent Los Angeles premiere. He attended the event with his girlfriend, Erin Hasan.
"There is no way to really explain getting to do the thing you've always dreamed of, for a living," McIntyre said. "It's everything I might have thought it would mean, as far as fun and enjoyment goes, plus 1000. This girlfriend of mine, she can tell me how much .. I'm just like a little kid when it comes down to it. It's such a blast. It's a great honor to be able to carry on this legacy. I can't thank Starz enough."
Hasan is a theatre actress who has appeared in Australian productions of Broadway musicals such as "Wicked," as the good witch Glinda, "Oklahoma" and "Love Never Dies," the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit show "The Phantom of the Opera."
"Spartacus" also stars "Xena: Warrior Princess" actress Lucy Lawless as the cunning Lecretia, wife of leader Batiatus. McIntyre said the characters have got a "bigger scope to play with" in the new season.
"They're outdoors and they can fight armies instead of just fighting gladiators in an arena," he said. "Drama-wise, it keeps pace with the great standards set by season 1. As far as scope goes, they're in a bigger world, so it just keeps getting bigger and bigger."
McIntyre began his on-screen career in 2007 in his native Australia, which is located near New Zealand, the country where "Spartacus" is filmed. His breakout role came in 2010, when played the role of Bell Captain Lew in the HBO mini-series "The Pacific," which starred Tom Hanks, who co-produced the project with Steven Spielberg.
Also in 2010, McIntyre appeared on an episode of the soap opera "Neighbors," the show that launched the careers of pop star Kylie Minogue and Alan Dale of ABC's "LOST" and "Once Upon a Time."
It was announced in September 2010 that Whitfield would leave "Spartacus" to battle a recurrence of cancer. He succumbed to the disease a year later, on Sept. 11, 2011, at age 39.
In January 2011, it was announced that Liam McIntyre would take over the role for the upcoming season. At the premiere, the actor said he was "honored" to be given the opportunity to take on the part.
"Spartacus" star Manu Bennett, who plays the gladiator Crixus, also talked about Whitfield, saying that the premiere was a "bittersweet moment."
"[Whitfield] made all this possible," Bennett told OnTheRedCarpet.com at the premiere. "And he was a wonderful man and we are here tonight really as a tribute to him as well as our own new premiere for the show."
Check out a preview of McIntyre in "Spartacus: Vengeance" below.