The Starz network is officially on the hunt for a new lead actor to replace Andy Whitfield in the title role of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, based on comments made by producers during the Television Critics Association winter press tour in California. During an announcement confirming that the super-violent swords-and-sandals series would be returning for a second season -- the soon-to-air Gods of the Arena is considered a prequel miniseries, not the show's official second year -- the network's president and CEO Chris Albrecht revealed that the search for a new Spartacus is coming close to an end.
"This will be the official second season, which picks up where we last left Spartacus and his gang of escaped gladiators," Albrecht said of the new Spartacus season. "We don't have casting news for you today, but the reason that we are announcing the official moving ahead is because we're very confident that where we are in the casting process will result in finding a lead actor who can ably step into Spartacus' sandals, although we will never be able to truly replace Andy Whitfield."
Whitfield was diagnosed with cancer during the show's first season, prompting producers to pursue Gods of the Arena as a way to work around the leading man's treatment. Sadly, though treatments were initially successful, Whitfield's cancer returned, leading the actor to withdraw from Blood and Sand altogether. Various actors have been rumored as possible Spartacus replacements, including Prison Break star Wentworth Miller.
In other Blood and Sand news, producers confirmed that Lucy Lawless would reprise her role as the duplicitous Lucretia despite suffering a seemingly fatal stab wound at the end of the first season. Executive producer and writer Steven S. DeKnight teased: "What we have planned for Lucretia in season two makes season one and the prequel pale in comparison to what she's up to in season two."