For three seasons, “Spartacus” fans have delighted in cheering on the former gladiators-turned-rebels in the Starz franchise, but this season – the fourth installment — has provided a twist for many of those watching.
Creator Steven S. DeKnight and his writing team have given the gang of rebels some seriously formidable – and arguably likable — foes, ones that are stirring the reactions of the audience.
“It’s actually been interesting,” Todd Lasance, who plays the young, shaggy-haired Julius Caesar in the series said, when Access Hollywood asked him about the reaction to this season’s Roman “bad guys,” who frankly, aren’t all bad.
“There’s been a lot of, ‘I love to hate Caesar,’ or, ‘I kind of like him!’ or, ‘Is it naughty to be liking Caesar?” Todd continued of the responses he’s heard as the episodes have rolled out every Friday at 9 PM on Starz. “I want to sort of shift the audience as much as I can.”
While for some, Caesar is not the villain, for others, he is definitely no hero.
“I wanted to introduce a few darker elements in Caesar, I spoke to the producers about that,” Todd told Access.
Todd explained that in order to play a man who is “capable of achieving such greatness and such glory and such power amongst the people,” but who was “also known for [doing] some pretty terrible, heinous things to the enemy,” his Caesar needed “those dark elements.”
“I don’t think it would all be peachy and he would be this upstanding gentleman, but it’s kind of cool,” Todd said. “I like the fact that the audience is sort of split, and torn. If they want to jump on Caesar’s side, I like that, but then I might throw something in the spanner in there.”
Todd discussed much more about Caesar, including what’s ahead in this week’s episode of “Spartacus” – “The Spoils of War” — but first, we asked him about being spotted around Los Angeles of late with some of his co-stars.
AccessHollywood.com: People who follow you guys on Twitter are going to know that a few of the cast of ‘Spartacus’ are living in LA… Liam McIntyre, Dan Feuerriegel and you. And you guys went and hung out recently… at an Oscars party?
Todd Lasance: Oh yes, that’s right we went to a charity event [during the] Oscars, on the Sunday night and ironically I live with Liam now. He’s my flatmate, so it’s kind of weird, because we’re kind of arch enemies on the show.
Access: Does that mean there’s fighting over who has to do chores and you use lines from the show?
Todd: Oh definitely and we sword fight in the lounge room and all that sort of stuff, and recite all of our lines to each other.
Access: Do people flip when they see the two of you, say, at the supermarket, shopping together?
Todd: It’s good for me at the moment. I don’t get recognized, which is nice. I can kind of fly under the radar and funnily enough as well, Liam looks quite different in real life.
Access: He’s clean!
Todd: And he’s not covered in blood and he doesn’t have armor on so that kind of eludes everyone, but because his hair’s a little longer, he’s harder to recognize.
Access: Speaking of hair, in this week’s episode of ‘Spartacus,’ you lose the long Julius Caesar hair!
Todd: It was hard to let it go as far as the look, but definitely not hard to let go as far as makeup. It was like an extra hour at the start and at the end of the day, like applying the wig was annoying, but then ripping it off as well ‘cause they have to glue your hair down.. It was a nightmare putting it on and off, but it really works for the character.
Access: I’ve heard a couple of your co-stars call it your ‘Brad Pitt look.’ Did they call you ‘Brad’ on set?
Todd: Yeah, a couple of people were throwing that around, but that’s too much of a legacy to take on. I love Brad, so we’ll leave that one alone.
Access: In this week’s episode – ‘The Spoils of War,’ it actually opens with you saying (to Spartacus’ rebels) ‘Did I not tell you that you should run?’ Seems like you have the upper hand. What can we expect?
Todd: This is the moment that Crassus finally meets Spartacus head on and I kind of rejoin with the Romans, to a degree. And [the rebels] work out, well, they [worked it] out obviously in Episode 5, but the whole rebels work out that I was undercover and kind of infiltrated the rebels to allow the Romans to attack. This is us retaking the city.
Access: Do you think Caesar actually learned anything when he was in the rebels’ camp? They’re great fighters!
Todd: Correct — the gladiators… but on the other hand Caesar feels like his skill level is unmatched anyways, so he feels like he could go head to head with Spartacus, which I think is an important mentality for him to have. But he learned about the segregation. I mean, he creates segregation a little bit between Crixus and Spartacus.
Access: Tiberius Crassus is a little turd. Is he a concern for your character?
Todd: There’s an element of concern at different points.
Access: He’s evil!
Todd: He is evil and he gets more evil as the series continues as well, but Christian’s so good at portraying that evil shift. He starts out as this innocent sort of boy and then he kind of turns into a man and then darkens. There’s that element of threat [through] the bloodline there between Crassus and Tiberius, but as far as skill level and authority and respect among the troops, Caesar knows he has that, and also knows that he has the ability.
Access: What has it been like joining a show like this — with a built in fan base, the kind of show that is like a comic book come to life.
Todd: It was really cool. It was nice to have that established audience and I got to watch previous seasons, but also scary to a degree as well because there’s certain expectations. To be honest, I more so felt the expectation with playing Caesar himself, because… when people [got to see it, it was] hilarious reading the stuff online — people just losing it going ‘Oh, he doesn’t look the way that Caesar looked like!’
Access: No one knows what Caesar looked like at that age.
Todd: There’s a few accounts on his sort of physicality, but mostly that was later in his life. Bu I think people have certain expectations as to what Caesar would be like and there needs to be some kind of presence on screen. So I think that’s what I felt.
Access: It must have been fun inventing a character [at a time in his life] that hadn’t been seen before.
Todd: Yeah. It was an incredible honor, but at the same time I felt a huge amount of pressure. Those two things collided a lot of the time. I was just wracked with nerves as well.
-- Jolie Lash