American actress Katrina Law appeared on Spartacus: Blood and Sand for less than half of the season but she made an impression on fans, and her character Mira made an even bigger impression on Spartacus. Law, best known for an arc on the TV series Legend of the Seeker and the web series The Resistance, is back with Spartacus: Vengeance, which premieres Friday on Starz.
In Season 1, Spartacus and Mira began a relationship that continues into the new season, and the New Jersey-born Law spoke with Spinoff Online about what fans can expect in the coming weeks, the challenges she faced as an actor, working with men in loincloths, and trying to understand New Zealanders.
SPINOFF ONLINE: After coming onto the show part way through the first season, you’re now a regular and, as an actor, this is your first time playing a character for this length of time. What has the experience been like?
Katrina Law: I think the biggest learning lesson on a show like Spartacus and being a series regular was stamina and pacing. I don’t even know if this actually applies to any other show just because a lot of the stamina and pacing I’m actually referring to has to do with physicality. It’s such a physical show. You want to do everything that you’re asked, but you realize that if you do that on such a physical show you annihilate yourself and you literally cannot physically produce the same quality the next week because you’re so sore, tired or injured. It was a big learning experience having to say, no, I actually can’t do that, or figuring out how to act like you’re giving one hundred percent without giving one hundred percent physically. After seven months of doing this without a break, that was the biggest lesson.
This season is very different than the first. What has it been like for Mira?
This year was a lot more physical for Mira and for pretty much all of the slaves. Last year the gladiators had to do all the fight scenes but this year everybody is on the run and everybody is fighting for their life. Physically it was very challenging this year. After the season wrap I got back to LA and sat on my couch. If you needed me to get off my couch, there was no way because I just couldn’t. [laughs]
It was great being a series regular. It’s great to be working, that’s a blessing in and of itself. It’s good to live with the character for a while and get to see how they grow and where they get to go. On a show you don’t necessarily know where your character ends up. It’s not like a movie where you get the script and you know the arc and the ending. This is ongoing. She does this one day and that the next. You don’t know where your character is going so it makes it a really interesting challenge and keeps it fresh and interesting
Have you had any conversations with Steven S. DeKnight and the writers about Mira and her arc and the show’s plot this season and beyond?
I think the cool thing that the writers do – and depending on who you ask, it may not be that cool – but they don’t necessarily tell you what the characters are doing. They give the actors just a broad view. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t want the actors to get married to an idea. They’ll say, "She’s going to do this and she’s going to go in that direction," but you don’t really know what it is that takes your character in that direction. It makes you really have to work. You’re constantly being surprised by your character as the season goes on. You have a general idea of where they’re going but you don’t know how or why.
The first season, you worked mostly with Lucy Lawless and Andy Whitfield. This season you have the chance to work with many of the other actors. Have you had any favorite interactions between characters or actors you hadn’t worked with before?
I’m in the rebel camp, and let me just tell you working with testosterone-filled males dressed in loincloths for 14 hours a day is just entertaining. [laughs] Sometimes when you need the entertainment to stop so you can focus on the scene, it doesn’t. I’ve learned so many things about men I’m not sure I’m supposed to know. [laughs] And the conversations that I’ve been privy to, oh, my gosh. It’s been a lot of fun.
I don’t have a favorite person to work with. I’ve lucked out because everybody is so fantastic to work with and everyone has such a wonderful sense of humor. I think working on the show and the nature of it, you really do have to have an amazing sense of humor because they are half naked most of the time. It was a relief when the women started entering the set. For a while I was the only woman and oh my god, my estrogen against their testosterone, it nice to have some more estrogen on set with me.
You get to do some fighting this season. Does Mira have a favorite weapon?
I guess I can tell you that Mira does end up picking up the bow. I think that’s her weapon of choice. The really interesting thing this season was that [the house slaves] were completely beholden to the gladiators. They were the ones that were providing the shelter, the protection, the food. If they decided to leave the group or just say, "You guys can’t take care of yourself, we’re going off on our own," the house slaves would have been essentially screwed. I mean, we could fight but that doesn’t mean we would win. So this season you see a lot of people just figuring out to survive. Everybody fights this season. I do a lot more than holding a vase in the background. [laughs]
What has working with Liam McIntyre been like? Obviously, he came into a very difficult position, taking over the role of Spartacus from the late Andy Whitfield.
He walked into a very unfortunate situation, but he’s done a beautiful job. He’s so humble and gracious about the entire situation. Honestly, I don’t think we could have asked for a better person to come and step into the sandals that he needed to fill. He was so humble. He really has brought his own version to the role and has done everything in his power to respect what Andy had brought to the role as well.
Liam is just a sweetheart. He’s just a nice guy. I don’t know of anybody who has met him who has had anything other than “he’s a nice guy” to say about him because he’s just a beautiful, beautiful person. I feel very lucky to have had Liam step in and take over. He’s done a great job.
The Spartacus-Mira relationship was interesting because she seemed to fall for him, but it didn’t seem quite as emotional on his part.
It’s interesting just because there are a different ways you play it and then by editing it gets skewed to a different point of view. I do think Mira has fallen head over heels in love, and I think that she is willing to do everything in her power for this man. Whether or not she is aware of his lack of reciprocation for her feelings, I’m not sure that she is aware of it at the beginning. If she is, she’s doing her best to ignore it. I do think Mira is a smart girl and she wouldn’t fall head over heels for a guy who has absolutely no interest in her. I do think that there has to be something between the two of them for her to hold onto. She understands the situation. She never expects to replace Sura, but I think she sees glimpses of the Spartacus she loves and what she could see her future being and she wants that.
And that dynamic is interesting because their relationship didn’t start after his wife died. It only really started after Varro died. He needed someone, though he didn’t realize it, and she really fulfilled that.
I think you’re definitely onto it, him filling the void in some way. She doesn’t blame him for it. She’s trying to capitalize on it without being manipulative, if that makes sense. She sees that he loves her in a certain way. Whether or not that’s a love you can grow a life off of, I don’t know. He does love her, I think. Is it enough is the question.
Steven S. DeKnight joked that the dialogue on the show is one part Shakespeare and one part Robert E. Howard. It can be a lot of fun, but it would also seem to take some time to find the rhythm.
[laughs] You get used to it very quickly. We’ve all had Shakespeare training of some sort so it’s not completely foreign. We’ve all watched the movies about the time period and sword and sandals [movies] so it’s not completely alien. After the first script you’ve pretty much just immersed yourself in the world. We laugh on set because all of a sudden someone will do something and go, "Apologies." We find ourselves speaking in the language of Spartacus on set and we look at each other going, "Did we really do that?" [laughs] It really takes you out of your reality, and I don’t know too many other shows where you get to do this on a daily basis. I think it’s great.
What has working in New Zealand been like?
New Zealand is gorgeous. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves nature. It’s beautiful. The cool thing about working in New Zealand is that you don’t have the distractions. When you go down there for work, you’re away from your friends and family. It does become a lonely experience. You have an artificial family. You make friends very quickly on the set just by the nature of being with them on set with them for fourteen hours a day. It’s a give and take when you work abroad. It’s cool to be able to have a reason to live in another country, especially one as gorgeous as New Zealand.
I’m sure that everyone being thrown together echoes how all characters have been thrown together and creates a bond.
Yeah. And it was interesting because on set everybody speaks English, so I’m saying these English words and then somebody from Australia says, "I don’t get it." The person from New Zealand says something and the person from England goes, "What are you saying?" It’s made for some funny situations. In New Zealand they always abbreviate everything so they’ll say, “Break for brekkie.” What? Oh, breakfast. They’ll say, "I’m going to give you a hottie." You’re going to give me a hot man? Awesome. "No, we’re going to give you a bottle warmer." Oh. [laughs] I remember the first time someone said to me “Sweet as” and I was like, "You’re saying I have a sweet ass? That’s awesome." They had to explain to me that it’s “sweet as sugar” or “sweet as cake.”
I’m sure you’re like, "If you didn’t abbreviate that, we could’ve moved on 10 minutes ago."
Yeah. If you could just finish your sentence, that would be great. [laughs]
I’m sure you’re under threat of death or lawyer to not get into specifics, but what can viewers expect this season?
Rome attacks and the rebels fight back. [laughs]
This season is epic. The rebels are on the run. You’re no longer confined to the ludus and the dynamics there of upstairs and downstairs. You have the rebels fighting the Romans. There’s a huge difference between the luxury and the colors of the Roman side and the stark bleakness of the rebel side. The scenery in the background is jaw-dropping. I saw the final product and it was just amazing. The production value has gone up so if you loved the graphic novel style, you’re going to get more of that. If you loved the sex and violence, you’re going to get more of that. If you want to see women fighting this year, you’re going to get that. If you want to see more of the deviousness and evilness of the Romans, you’re going to get even more of that. I just think this entire production gets heightened this year. I’m looking forward to it.
Spartacus: Vengeance premieres Friday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.