The long awaited premier of Spartacus Season 2 made one thing abundantly clear: Liam McIntyre is too young to play Spartacus and cannot fill the shoes of the late Andy Whitfield, the original Spartacus, who was ten years older than McIntyre when he died.
Whitfield was 39 years old when he died of cancer in September 2011, McIntyre is 29. Physically, McIntyre more closely resembles a boy than a man, despite the fact that he has bulked up for the role. His facial features are youthful, his face is without the hardening and character of age, his voice has no authority. More upstart boy than man, he does not appear to be a leader of men and does not mesh well with the other characters. In particular, he does not connect well with his co-rebellion leader and conrad in arms, Crixus, played by Manu Bennett, who is age 43.
Although comments posted to the Spartacus Facebook page indicate most fans are ambivalent toward McIntyre’s handling of the role in the season opener, a few are already saying he bombed.
But I am not sure the naysayers realize that it is McIntyre’s age that is wrong, and not necessarily his acting skills.
Starz was in a bind when Whitfield’s cancer resurrected its ugly head after a long remission. Not knowing if they should recast the role or cancel the popular series, Starz opted instead for a semi-season. Entitled Gods of the Arena, the semi-season told the story of the Batiutus ludus before Spartacus arrived. It bought Starz some time to recast the role with the full approval of Whitfield, who never recovered.
But Starz should have narrowed the age when they put out the casting call to between 35 and 45. That way, no actor who looks like he just stopped getting zits would have shown up.
And maybe someone who is believable as the leader of a slave rebellion against the mighty Roman Empire would have been cast in the role.