In the last part of our Web series focusing on the creative minds behind Starz’s “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” we sat down with Aussie actor Dustin Clare, who has joined the cast as the double-sword wielding, alpha gladiator Gannicus in the prequel series. He gives us perspective on the training involved, his passion for acting and why he’d rather die than spend too long on a TV series.
CableFAX: So you’re the new guy on Spartacus. How did you get involved in the series?
DC: [Producer] Rob Tappert had seen work I’d done in Australia and brought me onto the show. I hadn’t seen the show, so I wanted to see the whole series. I watched it and thought there were some interesting character relationships, and I thought it was something interesting I could do. So I decided to test for it, and it went my way obviously.
CableFAX: Do you know at this point that you’ll be in the 2nd season?
DC: Well, in the history of Spartacus, it’s probably pretty likely. It’s safe to assume. [EDITOR’S NOTE: While historians aren’t sure of the specifics, Roman history suggests Gannicus played some role in the Spartacus-led slave revolt that will start to take place in Season 2]
CableFAX: As a prequel, it’s interesting that your fellow actors are all thinking about the characters they played in Season 1 and getting into their origins. But you’re a brand new character. Does that make your process different?
DC: No. You always go in [the same]—as long as you’re prepared and confident of where you’re falling as a guest or a semi-regular or a regular. Preparation is important, and confidence comes through that preparation.
CableFAX: Did you know any of the actors on the show beforehand?
DC: No. Not at all.
CableFAX: Did you have any training in martial arts or anything related to that before joining the cast?
DC: I had done some fencing, but it’s completely different. It was all new… I use two swords, so it’s a little bit left brain-right brain because as one’s striking, one is always about to strike and vice versa. That was all a lot of fun, but it’s a fast learning curve because I had to be up to speed super quick. We had a lot less time for the boot camp.
CableFAX: How long?
DC: It was two weeks, but I had three. I came over early, and that was 4 hours in the morning, which was physical work—circuit and weight training. It was very functional circuit and weight training because you have to remain flexible. And then we’d have lunch, and it would be a couple of hours of double swords, and then I’d sleep and then do an hour in the pool. So it was like 7 hours for 3 weeks of constant hard work.
CableFAX: How do you stay in that shape when you’re shooting?
DC: It was tough because you’ve got all the normal work you do as any actor on any show, and then you’ve got this stuff. You’re up before you’re getting picked up to go to the gym, and then you put your bag down and you’re going straight into the pool or something.
CableFAX: Is the pool for endurance?
DC: Swimming is such a great body workout. It’s good for cardio. It’s good for me because I love the water, and it clears my mind.
CableFAX: What other projects excite you right now?
DC: I just got a film coming out this year that I just did back home with Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis and Charlotte Rampling—Fred Schepisi directed. It’s called “Eye of the Storm,” and that will be coming out this year.
CableFAX: Now that’s more of an introspective family drama, which seems quite different from Spartacus. Do you enjoy stretching into such divergent roles?
DC: I really enjoy characterizations, and that’s the thing that really excites me—a range of characters. I’ve played a whole range of stuff back home at Australia. I’ve been working for seven years in Australia after I graduated from drama school. This is my entry into the American marketplace, obviously.
CableFAX: And the global entertainment marketplace is based in L.A. Do you want to do more big Hollywood fare or stick with indie projects?
DC: Well, it’s a global marketplace as you said. But the hub of it is here. I’m happy to work wherever… as long as the work I’m doing is interesting and engages me. I don’t have any ties to saying I’ll set up base here or anything. It’s a global industry now, and I can put down a test at home and then it can be sent over here—and a couple of minutes after it’s uploaded, people can see it. You don’t have to base yourself in any one place anymore. I think you put yourself in a place where you feel you’re the most creative and the most free, and then take it from there. I don’t know about being humped up in some apartment in L.A., you know? [Laughter]
CableFAX: How does the TV experience differ from the movies you’ve done?
DC: They’ve both got their strengths. You can see a great character journey on a series on television, and that’s why we get kind of hooked into it. You get to follow these characters. But you can get such great stories in film, which are well crafted and worked on. I like the ability with film of doing a project, and then it’s done, and you leave it. There’s no coming back to it, whereas in television it can be such a long arc. So for me, I like to keep creatively spontaneous and creatively fulfilled by changing up my work and not getting comfortable. Because you get comfortable, and then you start to create mediocrity, which is a really bad circumstance.
CableFAX: Like when you’re on a series for a very long time…
DC: Yeah, yeah. I’m not that guy. It doesn’t excite me. I need to love it, but not for any other reason.
CableFAX: I’ve always wondered that. Does it get boring as you play a character for a long time, or are there always new areas to explore?
DC: Some people like that. It’s what works for them. It’s about finding out what works for you. I’d probably commit suicide if I had to do that.