Warning: This article includes minor spoilers on the upcoming season of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.
When actor Andy Whitfield, who played the title character in last year’s break-out cable hit Spartacus: Blood and Sand, was diagnosed with cancer, it forced the producers of the show to get creative while they hopefully waited for him to recover.
The result is a six-episode “prequel” series debuting January 21st on Starz that begins with a glint in the eye of Batiatus dying at the end of Blood and Sand and takes us back to tell the story of Batiatus’ ludus before Spartacus’ arrival.
It also gave the producers a chance to tell a gay sub-plot that seems considerably different than the one between Barca (Antonio Te Maioha) and Pietros (Eka Darville) in Blood and Sand: Barca’s earlier love affair with fellow gladiator Auctus, played by Josef Brown, an Australian dancer and actor.
Josef Brown as Auctus
“What I really love about the Barca-Auctus relationship is that it’s two alpha males,” said co-creator Steven DeKnight. “It’s two guys who are gladiators. With Barca and Pietros’ relationship, Barca became sort of a gentle giant around Pietros. With Auctus, these are two guys who laugh and love, and there’s a joy to their relationship that I think with the Pietros relationship, it was much more of a gentle kind of thing.
“With Barca and Auctus, there’s just this ebullience, this effervescence that they have for each other. They spend a lot of the prequel just laughing and having a great time. They’re also two of the best gladiators there. You’ll see both Barca and Auctus fighting. One of the things I regret [about the first season] is that we never saw Barca fighting – just in flashbacks. There were scenes, but they always got cut. Barca has a really fantastic fight in the arena, and so does Auctus.”
Interestingly, the prequel series also includes a gay sex scene that is more explicit than the brief scene between Barca and Pietros in Season One.
“One of my favorite moments – I think it’s in episode two or three – is [the sex scene] between Barca and Auctus,” DeKnight says. “They have an exchange that becomes sexual that I just love. It embodies everything that I wanted from this relationship, which is a physical, jocular type of relationship. They enjoy trying to one-up each other. They’re both fighters, and they’re both equals. There’s no delicate flower in this relationship.”
The first episode, meanwhile, includes a pretty steamy (and nude) lesbian sex scene between Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) and Gaia (Dexter‘s Jaime Murray), even as it continues the show’s trademark blending of explicit sex with extreme and graphic violence.
DeKnight and co-creator Rob Tapert have both previously expressed a strong insistence on including both gay and lesbian characters and storylines into the series (despite some push-back from straight male fans on the internet), and they’re clearly living up to their word.
Since Auctus obviously doesn’t make it to Season One, can we assume he dies over the course of the prequel?
“I can’t reveal what happens to Auctus,” DeKnight says. “Obviously, he’s not in Season One, but that doesn’t mean he dies – just that he’s not there. But he plays a pivotal, pivotal role in the prequel. It’s interesting because the Auctus character has a deep effect on the other characters on the show. There’s something that happens that sends a character on a course that changes everything really in Season One.”
We here at GuySpy CAN’T wait for the first episode…January 21st folks! Mark your calendars!~