The search for the new Spartacus has ended as executives landed their choice on Liam McIntyre. The Australian actor will replace Andy Whitfield as the titular character on Starz's "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" since the original star is not able to continue his commitment due to his Hodgkin's Lymphoma treatment.
Starz had been searching for the right actor to fit in Whitfield's shoes for months, inviting three relatively-unknown actors to do a screen test late last year and also reportedly considering a few more established names such as Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell. However, they were impressed by McIntyre whose lean figure was the execs' only doubt.
McIntyre has apparently bulked up and is due to begin his work soon this Spring in New Zealand. The much-delayed season 2 will be premiered in January 2012. In the meantime, a prequel called "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" will fill in the gap, premiering on Friday, January 21 and ending after 6 episodes in February.
McIntyre had a small role on HBO's miniseries "The Pacific" and is known for his appearances in Australian TV series such as "Neighbours" and "Rush".
"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. "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."