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The upcoming Starz drama series Spartacus: Blood and Sand will include both gay and lesbian characters, executive producer Rob Tapert told TheTorchOnline.com today.
The drama stars Andy Whitfield and Lucy Lawless in a retelling of the story of the legendary rebel Roman gladiator-slave who lived in Rome from 109 BC to 71 BC and led a slave rebellion that eventually included 140,000 escaped slaves. The first season leads up to Spartacus’s escape from the slave prison.
Tapert is co-executive producing the series along with Sam Raimi, with whom he executive-produced Xena: The Warrior Princess.
Spartacus’s showrunner is Steven DeKnight, who told IGN recently, “I come from the Joss Whedon camp, so I love strong women, and I love big sweeping romantic arcs that will probably end badly, just like Joss always does.”
Each of the 13 episodes in the first season — which debuts on the premium network in January — reportedly cost over $2 million, and will include more graphic sex and violence than 300, says Tapert. “[The network] has given us quite a bit of rope with which to hang ourselves,” he says. Filming for the series is currently taking place in New Zealand.
Lawless (who is married to Tapert) plays Lucretia, the owner of the gladiator school where Spartacus (Whitfield) is imprisoned. John Hannah will play her husband, and Erin Cummings (Bitch Slap!, Dante’s Cove) has been cast as Spartacus’s wife.