Steven DeKnight Talks Spartacus

Spartacus is back with a Vengeance (no pun intended), but that’s the name of the STARZ 2012 season – SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE. Spartacus and his rebel slaves continue their fight against The Powers that Be, better known as the rulers of the World. We already know what happens to the revolt and its leaders, death, but that doesn’t lessen their impact on history or what makes good drama. Even the historians at that time knew it was a good story.

The crucial revolt only lasted about 3 years but this version of Spartacus with its underlying theme of freedom and drenched in enough blood and sex may outlast the original.

Creator, writer and executive producer Steven S. DeKnight answers a few questions about bringing a story set over 2,000 years ago to life again.

POPCULTUREZOO: The first two series [Spartacus: Blood and Sand & the prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena], pretty much a lot of the action plays in one location, in the ludus (gladiator training camp). Now everybody is out and scattered. How has that changed production for you guys for this season?

STEVEN S. DeKNIGHT: Production is exponentially more difficult and gigantic. Basically, we write the show in Los Angeles, and then I ship the scripts off to my partner, Rob Tapert. I dump a huge problem on his table, and he figures out how to do it. And I’m always amazed at how he figures out how to do it. This season is epic. It’s gigantic on all levels. Usually, in a show like this, every three or four episodes, you’ll do something big. But, this season, literally, its every single episode is a gigantic production challenge. I can’t go into the details. It would give too much away. But we are all over the place location wise, and everything is just bigger this season.

PCZ: Women in this time period didn’t historically have a lot of personal power, but your characters seem to have their own sense of power. Can you talk about making sure that’s a part of the series?

STEVEN S. DeKNIGHT: I love writing women in this show because even if it’s a slave who you would think has no power whatsoever, if it’s Lucretia (Lucy Lawless) who really has no rights in this society, the interesting thing to me is to find ways to give them strength. No one is a wilting flower. Part of is that I come from the Joss Whedon camp. We both love writing for strong women, and I think we have some of the best female characters out on TV right now.

And for me, it’s all about love. You know, strip away the violence, the sexiness of this show; it’s built on love. Every single character is doing what they do because of love, and I think it’s the most important theme of the show.

PCZ: In the first season, it was all done with green screen, or most of it was done with green screen. Now that you’ve branched out and they’ve escaped, are you doing less green screen?

STEVEN S. DeKNIGHT: No. It’s still all green screen. That’s the amazing thing when you see the show. We do these huge vistas, and it’s a gigantic scope. We are still always inside. We never go outside.

PCZ: In the Blu-Ray edition of the prequel, Spartacus Gods of the Arena, there is a special feature with a battle scene in 3D. I think that’s the first time it’s been done. It should transfer very well from CG. How will do you think it went?

STEVEN S. DeKNIGHT: The cool thing about those shots, you see them every now and then on the shot where somebody throws an axe, throws a sword toward the camera, it’s not CG. We are actually hacking axes and swords towards the camera.

SPARTACUS: VENGEANCE – Every Friday night on STARZ at 10:00 PM – Tonight: “The Greater Good”