Andy Whitfield is not the first actor to play Spartacus, but his performance may owe more to 300 than Kirk Douglas. Shot on green screen a la Zack Snyder’s film, Spartacus: Blood and Sand plays gladiator battles in epic slow motion
Andy Whitfield Talks Spartacus
“There was this camera called the Phantom camera that show 1000 frames a second,” Whitfield said. “You can slow things down, you can freeze things and that meant two things. One, it meant I couldn’t have a stunt double because you could see it wasn’t me. So I pretty much did most of my stunts. Secondly, I had to learn a whole new way of holding my face and learning to not blink because a blink is a minute long. Also, if I had to scream in anguish, I had to get it in early, otherwise it was at the end of the sequence which was only like two seconds but stretched out to 30. So yeah, there were a few technical things to learn but wow, it just looks phenomenal.”
The slow motion was more of a technical consideration than the green screen itself. “For me, after a couple days I didn’t really notice the green screen so much because there’s a fairly established set and of course your focus should be on the other characters. My focus has to be on whoever I’m in a scene with, so that wasn’t so much of an issue.”
The audience will get to see all the benefits of post production in HD. “I think especially in a project like this which you can scratch with your fingers, it’s got so much texture, that’s all in. That is all in. everything is authentic and real. There’s not overgroomed, overstyled, cosmetically enhanced.”
Now that he’s gearing up for season two, Whitfield is confident Spartacus will reign on. “I think from what we have achieved, not blowing smoke proverbially. I think that gives you a lot of confidence but I’m also conscious that there’s always a necessary amount of fear just to have everything sharp. It’s that thing, no pressure no diamond. I think you just get used to accepting that that will always be there. For example, if I had to audition for something tomorrow, I would be as nervous as I was before. I spent nine months doing the best training for acting I could possibly ever have and I think that’s appropriate. Just accept that that’s going to be there and trust that it will go away.”
Spartacus: Blood and Sand premieres Friday on Starz.