New 'Spartacus' Star Liam McIntyre: Andy Whifield Is 'A Fantastic Guy'

Liam McIntyre in "Spartacus: Vengeance" Liam McIntyre in

Liam McIntyre has stepped into the title role in “Spartacus: Vengeance” as it prepares to return to the Starz in January 2012, and the Australian revealed that original actor, Andy Whitfield, actually helped him on his journey.

“He’s a fantastic guy,” McIntyre told Access Hollywood at Comic-Con 2011 in San Diego on Saturday of his predecessor, who he confirmed he has finally connected with.

Whitfield was forced to exit the show due to his battle with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and McIntyre said the courageous actor, who made a strong mark as the original Starz Spartacus, was very gracious.

“It was lovely… We sort of had email conversations, that sort of thing,” McIntyre explained. “We actually tried to meet up, but with the schedules we had, that was gonna be tough. But it was lovely. We had a little back and forth and he gave me some great advice on just surviving the rigors of the show and how physically tough it is and that sort of thing. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

McIntyre is currently filming “Spartacus: Vengeance,” the follow up to the 2010 series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” in New Zealand, but it took him some time to lock down the role.

When producers first expressed interest in the blue-eyed Australian, he was much thinner, having just completed “Frozen Moments,” a dramatic film role that left him almost emaciated.

“I’d lost 20 kilos… I guess that’s like 40-50 lbs. It was like a fifth of my body weight,” he said of his pre-Spartacus frame.

So quickly, out went McIntyre to the gym, and in to his body went meat product after meat product.

“I would be responsible for the deaths of so many chickens. I’m sorry chicken god!” he said, making a sad face. “Chicken, beef, some carbs in the forms of like rice, that’s about it.”

While the diet was protein heavy, McIntyre said he actually didn’t mind the lack of variety.

“You see, as an Australian, I love meat, and so especially with beef, it’s not really an issue,” he said. “I’m like, ‘So I have to eat this stuff every day? Thank goodness!’”

Although he was gaining muscle and weight on spec, McIntyre said he maintained a positive outlook – and focused on the prize – the role of Spartacus.

“If there is ever encouragement… There’s always, ‘Do it for yourself,’ but doing it for something like ‘Sparatcus’ is a much better goal,” he said. “So it wasn’t as hard as it could be, because you’re like, ‘Maybe one day I might actually be Spartacus, so why not lift as many weights as possible.’”

While Whitfield originated the role, McIntyre is stepping in at what might be the least awkward point possible as the story is about to undergo a major shift, as Spartacus and his former fellow gladiators flee Rome on the way to starting their army.

“I’ve been given that chance to start a fresh. In that way I get to make the Spartacus I can make from that new journey point where he’s really going out into the world,” McIntyre said. “And that’s been nice for me because Starz have really supported that idea and said, ‘Look, make it your own, honor that legacy and really push that show forward as best you can,’ and I get to go from that place, where he’s now out free of that little pressure cooker and up against that whole Roman Republic.”

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