Lucy Lawless: She is (in) 'Spartacus'

Starz, LLCSlaveryLucy LawlessSocial IssuesStanley KubrickKirk DouglasSam Raimi

You may not have heard of the guy playing the title role in Starz's new series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," but you're probably familiar with his owner.

Lucy Lawless has joined the series, which will update the story of Spartacus for the "300" generation and is being produced by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, who helped propel Lawless to fame in "Xena: Warrior Princess." Australian actor Andy Whitfield will play the title role.

"Spartacus: Blood and Sand" will follow the former Roman soldier, now a slave, as he's sold to Batiatus, the owner of a gladiator camp, and his wife Lucretia (Lawless). It's based on the true story of a slave who led a revolt against Rome in 73 B.C. (and memorably played by Kirk Douglas in Stanley Kubrick's 1960 movie), but Starz says the show "will tell a new set of stories rich in character, action, sex and combat."

The series, scheduled to premiere in January 2010, will rely heavily on virtual scenery a la "300" or "Sin City," and Tapert and fellow executive producer Steven S. DeKnight ("Dollhouse") promise an "R-rated, hard, hard show ... that delivers the action component that theatrical audiences expect from their entertainment," as Tapert put it to TV critics earlier this year.

In addition to Whitfield ("McLeod's Daughters") and Lawless, who's coming off "Battlestar Galactica," the cast also includes Erin Cummings ("Dollhouse"), Peter Mensah ("300," "The Incredible Hulk"), Manu Bennett ("30 Days of Night"), Craig Parker ("Legend of the Seeker"), Antonio Te Maioha ("Xena," "Hercules") and Nick Tarabay ("Crash").

DeKnight, Raimi and Tapert are executive producing the series with Joshua Donen.

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