Starz and production company Star Roads are rounding out the cast for Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, the prequel to the premium network's series gladiator series.
Australian actor Dustin Clare will play Gannicus, the first gladiator to become champion of Capua in the prequel to Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which caused quite a stir for Starz earlier this year in the ratings and for the series' depiction of violence and sex. Starz turned to Gods of the Arena after Andy Whitfield, who plays the title character in Spartacus, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma from which he is now recovering.
Production on the six-episode Gods of the Arena is set to begin in August, with the series scheduled to bow early next year.
Joining Clare are Jaime Murray and Marisa Ramirez in two central roles. Reprising their roles in the series, which takes place before Spartacus joins the ludus (gladiator training school) are Lucy Lawless (Lucretia), John Hannah (Batiatus), Peter Mensah (Oenomaus) and Manu Bennett (Crixus). Whitfield will appear briefly in the prequel, and rejoin the show for its 13-episode seconnd season, which is set to begin production later this year.
Gods of the Arena focuses on the House of Batiatus, in the days before Spartacus arrived. Hannah's Batiatus is not yet the head of the family, or the ludus. Gannicus is the undisputed lead gladiator, but in the class-conscious world of ancient Capua, the House of Batiatus still hasn't earned the respect of local society, or the right for its gladiators to fight in the championship bouts. Gannicus must survive the arena to not only keep his place in the ludus before he can rise to become the champion in all of Capua.
Clare is best known to Australian audiences, where he had major roles on a number of long-running TV series, including Satisfaction, Underbelly and McLeod's Daughters, which was syndicated by We TV here in the States. Murray (Showtime's Dexter, CW's Valentine,) portrays Gaia, Lucretia's friend and a Capua social climber. Ramirez, who plays Melitta a beautiful slave girl with complication relationships, is best known for her long runs on soap operas General Hospital and The Young and the Restless.
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