“Spartacus” has a new leading man.
Just days after Starz announced they were planning to recast the title role, left vacated by Andy Whitfield, who has been battling cancer, a rep for the cable channel confirmed to Access Hollywood that Australian actor Liam McIntyre has won the part.
Liam, 28, will take over the role, which Andy left due to his cancer battle, as the network proceeds with Season 2 of the bloody drama, which begins shooting this spring.
“Since no one can really replace Andy, we realized that we should instead find an actor who can truly lead ‘Spartacus’ forward,” Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht said in a statement. “It was important to us to have Andy endorse the idea of recasting this part, which he did in the same heroic manner that he’s dealt with his whole ordeal. And that, coupled with our fortune in finding a young actor with the gladiator credentials and the acting ability of Liam, makes it easier for us to keep this hit franchise going.”
Liam’s pedigree includes stints on the long-running Australian soap “Neighbors” (the same show “House M.D.‘s” Jesse Spencer comes from). He also had a small role in HBO’s “The Pacific,” playing the character of Lew.
According to Starz, Liam is currently in New Zealand where he is getting “into gladiator shape” in order to take on the meaty part.
As previously reported on AccessHollywood.com, Andy was unable to film Season 2 due to his battle with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a condition the actor first revealed he had early last year.
A network executive told reporters at the Television Critics Association Winter 2011 Session earlier this month that Starz has “remained in close contact with Andy,” who they said was “supportive” of the network’s efforts “to recast this role.”
In the run up to Season 2 of “Spartacus,” the network will air “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” starring Lucy Lawless and John Hannah, beginning Friday, January 21 at 10 PM.