Yesterday, when I read the headline "Lucy Lawless to star in Spartacus" on Variety.com, I just about did a spit-take with my morning coffee. I figured it was probably too good to be true, probably just an April Fool’s Day joke (as they seem to be all the rage these days in the online world). Then I took the time to actually read the too-brief article itself.
Yes, Lucy Lawless will star in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, but not as Spartacus. Rather, she’ll play a "proprietor of a camp for gladiators." Which is fine, as any Lawless casting news is good news as far as I’m concerned. In more good news, the "new fantasy-and-fighting series" will be helmed by Rob Tapert (Lawless’s real-life husband) and Sam Raimi, the guys who brought us the series that made Lawless famous, Xena: Warrior Princess.
Spartacus: Blood and Sand will begin production in April, and will air on Starz in January 2010.
So I guess that it’s okay that Lawless will not be playing Spartacus on Starz. But, in the words of Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) in Dazed and Confused, it’d be a lot cooler if she did.
Naturally, this news made me wonder what an all-female version of Spartacus would look like, and who should star (besides Lawless, of course).
For those of you who don’t know the story (or never saw the 1960 Stanley Kubrick epic of the same name), below is a brief description of the plot and a rundown (thanks, Wikipedia!) of the main characters:
Spartacus is about a slave who leads a ferocious revolt against the Roman empire, and this new version should, of course, be written and directed by Sofia Coppola.
Here’s the new and improved cast as I see it:
Lucy Lawless as Spartacus. Spartacus is a Thracian slave working in Libya, who is purchased by the lanista Lentulus Batiatus, and trained as a gladiator. She later leads the revolt at the gladiatorial school, which spreads throughout the countryside.
Holland Taylor (The L Word) as Crassus, the wealthiest woman in Rome. Crassus has an obsessive love of the city of Rome and its old tradition of patrician rule. She vies for power in the Roman Senate and thinks little of Spartacus’s rebellion.
Renee O’Connor (Xena: Warrior Princess) as Varinia. Varinia is a slave girl from Britainnia working for Batiatus, who falls in love with Spartacus and eventually becomes her loving wife, and gives birth to a son.
Dame Judi Dench (Quantum of Solace) as Gracchus. Gracchus is a dedicated Roman senator who is Crassus’s only real opposition. She is a Republican and a crooked pragmatist whoselack of scruples in her political dealings is her ultimate downfall. However, he was willing to help Batiatus seek revenge on Crassus.
Dame Judi Dench
Sigourney Weaver (Aliens) as Batiatus. Lentulus Batiatus is a shrewd, manipulative slave dealer, who purchases Spartacus, and ends up paying dearly for it. She blames Crassus for Spartacus’s rebellion and for his poverty; therefore, he seeks revenge against Crassus and eventually settles that account with a little help from the Roman senator Gracchus.
Rachel Maddow (The Rachel Maddow Show) as Julius Caesar. Caesar is the young, ambitious, protege of Gracchus, who gains command of the Garrison of Rome during the chaos of the Spartacus rebellion. Her support of Gracchus wanes as the rebellion becomes more serious and Caesar grows disgusted with Gracchus’s perfidious attitude towards Spartacus, ultimately defecting to Crassus.
Mia Kirshner (The L Word) as Helena Glabrus. Helena is the shrewd, manipulative sister of Marcus Publius Glabrus, who insists that Batiatus entertain them with two pairs of gladiators fighting to the death.
Drea de Matteo (The Sopranos) as Tigranes Levantus. Levantus is a Sicilian pirate who agrees to take the slaves out of Italy. When Spartacus and her forces reach Brundisium, Levantus is forced to betray them, and takes no pride in it.
Drea de Matteo
Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and the Furious 4 ) as Marcellus. Marcellus is Lentulus Batiatus’s gruff and cruel gladiator trainer, who picks on Spartacus in particular. She is killed by Spartacus during the revolt.
Jada Pinkett Smith (The Women) as Draba. Draba is an Ethiopian being trained at the gladitorial school. Initially, Draba refuses to tell Spartacus her name, being she knows someday she might be matched with her in the ring: each would be obliged to kill the other. Soon afterward, they are matched and ordered to fight to the death: Draba defeats Spartacus but refuses to kill her; she instead attempts to kill the spectators, but she fails and is killed herself.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) as Antoninus. Antoninus is a young Sicilian slave who leaves her master, Crassus, and joins Spartacus. At the conclusion of the movie Spartacus and Antoninus are forced to fight to the death in a gladiatorial match, the survivor to be crucified.
Who would you cast in all-female production of Spartacus? (Please remember that here, as in Hollywood, logic and reason in casting are not necessary!)