'Spartacus' character proves to be an equal opportunity assassin
At 6'4" tall, Antonio Te Maioha tends to standout in a crowd, even if that crowd is an equally impressive assortment of tall muscled men. Maioha plays the gladiator Barca in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the new Starz original series set in ancient Italy under the Roman Empire. Barca, 'the Beast of Carthage' serves as bodyguard and occasional hitman to Batiatus (John Hannah). But his role in the show changes events early on the series' first season.
A few episodes into the much-discussed series, Te Maiha's character begins a romantic relationship with slave boy Pietros (played by Eka Darville, who's also known for his role as Power Ranger Scott Truman) at Batiatus' gladiator school. In effect, Barca may be the first out gay gladiator in film history.
Barca is a loyal servant to Batiatus, but he secretly desires freedom. He mixes a mean temper with a softer side to present a conflicted character. Although a supporting character, his actions have a long-term effect in the show's plot. One of his more violent action scenes "pretty much took a whole day," said Maioha, who spoke via phone from New Zealand, where the show is produced. "We ended up with the shooting becoming a little more drawn out."
Along with a weeks-long intensive weapons and training workshop undergone by all the gladiator actors, Maioha said he did some online research, and browsed books about gladiator culture provided by the costume design team. "Whatever else we came across, that helped," he said.