EXCLUSIVE: Manu Bennett talks Spartacus Gods of the Arena and more

Starz mega hit series “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” finale is tonight, hard to believe. 

These visceral, story-dense six episodes just flew by, and one of our favorites is the character of Crixus, played with a soulful, quiet presence by actor Manu Bennett.

Those of us who are wondering how this prequel will finish up have only hours to find out, as this series, “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” turned out to be an enjoyable Friday night diversion that whets the appetite for season 2.  The fans will miss Andy Whitfield in this upcoming season, but as Manu reassures, Liam McIntyre is a hardworking and excellent choice to step in for the role of Spartacus.

Bennett, who plays the role of the well-muscled gladiator Crixus on the Starz hit series penned and produced by Steven DeKnight, will emerge as Lucretia’s secret concubine as he is crowned the Champion of Capua.’

But how he gets this glory is yet to be seen tonight.  

One thing is for certain, DeKnight and company will bring the noise for episode 6, and Manu’s Crixus is a big part of the action.

 

Gannicus (Dustin Clare) hopefully will emerge again in season 2, as will Naevia, the slave girl that Crixus loves. Will Lucretia survive her wounds? Many loose ends to contemplate.

Monsters and Critics had an eleventh hour email exchange with Manu last night about this addictive series, and his role as Crixus and for some added insight into the cast and what may come for season 2.  Manu Bennett tells me, “Hopefully we will keep on delivering in Season 2!”

Monsters and Critics: Manu you defeated Gannicus, but was it a shallow win in Gods of the Arena?

Manu Bennett: Crixus knew Gannicus had dropped his guard, but the prior champion’s advice about becoming champion was ‘never to lose…’

Obviously Gannicus swayed from his own logic but ultimately neither gained anything from the encounter. Crixus then starts to provoke Gannicus, an early indicator of how Crixus forms his mind toward gladiators proving themselves worthy, as he had to give all, fighting for his life against Auctus.  

M&C: Your relationship with Ashur is complex, M&C interviewed Nick Tarabay who talks at length about his character and yours. Crixus and Ashur both want the same things but have different ways of doing it.  Ashur uses his wits, and Crixus becomes the ludus superstar.  What makes Crixus cut his hair and clean up his woolly ways before season one, which we have seen?

Manu Bennett: I believe the difference between Crixus and Ashur is defined by the way they became gladiators.

It is not Ashur’s fault that he must use his cunning to survive, however these are choices and it’s mens’ choices that define them. Crixus learns by the sword and it is only by the sword that he seeks to become champion and a legend in the arena.

Ashur finds advantage through scoping the ludus for alternate opportunities and he creates enemies early on by expecting respect from the brotherhood without first earning the mark.

Batiatus plays a large part in manipulating Ashur and creating the cunning character we get to know.

 

An order from Lucretia sees Crixus getting his hair cut, in order to lessen the impact of her having to sleep with an animal slave.  

M&C: Crixus is introduced to Lucretia’s bed after a fight between her and Batiatus. He wounds her with the remark that she hasn’t bore him an heir.  Did Crixus want to be with Lucretia? Or was he just following orders, not really into it?

Manu Bennett:  Look at it as if Crixus were a Jew in a concentration camp. It’s not choice that motivates but survival and as for having any attraction toward Lucretia, I think episode 13 of Season 1 explains how Crixus really feels.

M&C:  Can you talk about Crixus’ relationship with Doctore, now that Peter Mensah’ character Oenomaus has stepped up.

Manu Bennett:  Oenomaus is respected as a character who acts from a place of knowledge and integrity. Peter Mensah embodies this himself and he is a great mentor within the cast, so we all kind of listen to him, on and off set.

As for leadership beyond the ludus, I think the drama of Season 2 will stem from differences in opinion of leadership and the ultimate goals of the rebellion.   

 

M&C:   Barca and Crixus have a mutual respect and fraternal tightness in S1 yet not so much in Gods, how did Crixus and Barca become so close before Season 1 comes around, any insight on their relationship?

Manu Bennett:  The fight between Auctus and Crixus was a glorious battle, no one can deny.

Even Titus changes tune with Batiatus, creating some hope for their reconciliation. I think Barca cannot deny the victory as being honorable and sees Auctus’ death as a thing of merit for Crixus.

Subsequently he gives Crixus the kudos of telling him ‘you fought well…’ When Crixus delivers the bread, an olive branch is extended and Barca receives it respectfully. This is where their camaraderie begins.    

M&C:   Is it in your contract to have scenes with full frontal nudity? Talk about the mechanics of theses revealing scenes.

Manu Bennett: The nudity of our show is part and parcel of realizing the nature of the time and the chosen style of our show.

I am not embarrassed by performing nude as I personally do not find the levels requested of us in this show to be too explicit. What makes this series compelling is that we are not scared to show how worthless the human body is treated at a slave level.

When you commit yourself to this type of artistic portrayal, you can’t stop and question yourself but at the same time we have discussions with our producers about what we are comfortable with and these boundaries are respected.  

M&C:   Liam McIntyre, the new Spartacus, have you had a chance to meet him yet, are you looking forward to working with him? 

Manu Bennett:   I worked with Liam during his screen test. He is not Andy Whitfield as nobody can ever replace the original Spartacus, but Liam is an honest person and an earnest actor, which is the type of human quality that the role of Spartacus requires.

He will bring his own great qualities to the role & I am very much so looking forward to working with his truth and take on Spartacus.  

M&C:   Can you talk about working with Andy Whitfield, and what season one was like, and if you have spoken with him and how is he doing?

Manu Bennett:    Andy was the perfect Spartacus, and acting with him was truly like stepping into the sandals of the characters.

He amplified the quality & expectations of the show and it has taken a long time for us to understand and comprehend his departure and the possibilities of continuing the show without him.

We respect that he needs time and space for recovery.  I presume that he is focused on healing and being with his family.  

M&C:  Did Crixus suspect that Lucretia was responsible for both Titus and Militta death with the poison wine, or was he unaware of Lucretia’s plotting? When does Lucretia really take a liking and confide with Crixus?

Manu Bennett:  If Crixus knew, he’d have thought twice about drinking the wine in the finale of Season 1. I’m not sure whether Lucretia ever confides in Crixus as much as entertains her own machinations.

It’s not a real relationship and in order to justify herself, she pretends there is a relationship and a man wanting to be with her for her beauty.

I think Crixus would sooner stab her with his sword than give her pleasure.

 

M&C:  Will we see Navia and Crixus’ relationship begin to blossom in the finale?

Manu Bennett: I think that would be jumping the gun a little as their communication and relationship does not form until Season 1. Right now fans should be more concerned about what has happened to Naevia since her forced departure from the ludus. 

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.

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