AUSXIP Interviews Katrina Law
by MaryD & Christa - 20 March 2010


Katrina Law is the newest cast member of the new hit series Spartacus: Blood and Sand on the Starz Network. A multi-talented actress, dancer, singer and comedienne, AUSXIP took the opportunity to get to know Katrina in this very extensive and fascinating interview. Katrina talks about working on Spartacus, her fellow castmates, a little about her character of Mira, some hilarious set stories and her plans on being a Mord'Sith in Legend of the Seeker and much more.


What was it like growing up in small town America with a Catholic father of German and Italian decent serving in the U.S. armed forces and a mother who is a Taiwanese Buddhist?

Well, first of all my mother was a Taiwanese Buddhist BARTENDER when she met my father, so she had the proper skills to catch the eye of an American soldier of European descent. That, and she is incredibly cute. One benefit of having such contrasting religious views from my parents is that it pushed me to keep an open mind and an open heart on all matters concerning religion, politics, etc. I was encouraged, as a child, to understand that not everyone thinks alike and learned to both respect that fact and to also try to learn as much about other people’s views as I possibly could. It stimulated a natural curiosity and desire to learn and expand my views of the world that has helped me with my acting as well as making me a bit of an eccentric at times.

But small towns in New Jersey each have a personality all their own. Mine was on the outskirts of Philadelphia, so while it did have an element of the “Jersey Goombah” that you see in so many movies, it also had a sampling of the ethnic tough streets of Philadelphia and a really healthy dose of rural farmland New Jersey. This means that everyone usually knows everyone’s business and you have to grow up smart, tough and self-reliant. The nice thing, though, is that once you make friends in a town like that, they remain true friends for life; as all of mine have.

When you first started to pursue acting full time you must have had career expectations (dreams) … how have those expectations lived up to the reality so far? And how have those expectations changed as your career has grown, then and now?

To be completely honest there was a part of me that wanted to sort of “shake my fist in defiance and show the world” when I started acting. I was very young and it was as much about chasing a dream as it was about proving my worth as a person. But as I matured I learned to settle within myself and appreciate who I am as a person for my strengths and weaknesses. Ironically that was the point my acting really began to take off. I think it was figuring out who I really was and grounding myself as a real person that took my acting to “the next level” and really started opening doors and getting my work recognized. I’ve always been a hard worker, but I finally became a smart worker as well.

Another revelation was just how hard this job actually is. I knew that it was going to be hard work, but it wasn’t until I had gone a long way down the journey to being a working actor and took a second to catch my breath and look back over the road I’d travelled that I realized just how far I had come and just how hard I had to work to get there. The one thing I’m most proud of is that I’ve never compromised my morals or personal beliefs along the way. Sure, the shortcuts can be tempting at time for some people, but for me they would have just tainted all the hard work I’d been doing.

But the reality of my career now meets every hope and dream that I had when I first dreamed of becoming an actress. Getting to be surrounded by all of these amazingly creative and hard working people, both in front of and behind the camera, is both a privilege and inspiration every day that I’m on set.

What genres do you enjoy more…Drama, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Period Pieces, Modern Day, Fantasy?

I love it all.  Each one gives an actor the opportunity to climb into a different character’s skin so they are all appealing to me. Films like A Street Car Named Desire, Bull Durham, Fifth Element, Emma, Love Actually, and Harry Potter run the gamut of all film genres, yet they are all among some of my favorite movies.  When I watch a film, I just want to be entertained and if it’s good, then it’s good.   Acting wise, as long as I am acting in a challenging and fully fleshed out role with interesting and professional people I am happy.  Though, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I do have a soft spot for any project that allows me to have an action sequence because being a bad ass is fun.

Most actors are multi-talented…singers, musicians, performers…Do you have any hidden talents?

I am lead singer and recently started playing bass guitar in a band called Soundboard Fiction. It’s a lot of fun and, since I’m not trying to become a professional musician, it’s a stress free way to be creative and express myself.  I have danced my entire life and was part of The Tournado Dance Company for about 8 years during which I spent four to eight hours a day learning and practicing ballet, tap, modern, jazz and flamenco. I also played the trumpet for a while but there was no talent hidden there waiting to be discovered, just noise yearning to be muffled.   I was also on the weight lifting team, played soccer and was the slowest runner on the track team when I was in High School. I haven’t gotten any faster, either. Lesley-Ann Brandt kicks my butt every time we run together and she makes sure I know all about it.

Where do you see yourself career-wise in 10 years?

I see myself as a happily married, consistently working actress surrounded by a great team, great friends and family, and loving the way that I make money to pay the bills.  And I hope that I will have earned the reputation among my peers for being professional, reliable and easy to work with.

If you were given a dream project to work on what would it be?

I’m happy to say, with complete honesty, that my dream project IS Spartacus: Blood and Sand.  This show really has given me all the challenges and opportunities that I hoped for at this point in my life and career.  I finally got my highly sought after series regular status, which is much more difficult than most people realize.  I am filming in beautiful New Zealand and getting paid to be there.  The show encompasses romance, comedy, sex, drama and amazing action sequences.  I even get to lose my usual way of speaking and deliver lines with an accent (that I created because they wanted an American/British mix which they referred to as “Mid-Atlantic”…artistic license at its best). Throw in the fact that the show is a period piece under the guidance of Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi and Steven DeKnight, and mix in the fact that I have the privilege of working with Lucy Lawless and John Hannah as a fellow cast members and I really feel that I struck gold with Spartacus.

Are there any actors dead or alive that you would love to work with and, If so, why?

I would love to work with Meryl Streep for obvious reasons.  Sandra Bullock would be amazing too because she seems so genuine, down to earth, and fun.  She has a personality and work ethic that I really admire and in many ways I try to model my career choices after ones she has made. Cate Blanchett, Dame Judy Dench and Rachel McAdams are all inspirations for me. After that…Lord! There are so many how do I even name them all? 

Dead or alive, and going both old and new school, the first and foremost would definitely be Marlon Brando.  After that, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Betty Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Cary Grant, Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Sean Penn, Clive Owens and Javier Bardem round out the list. They are the ones who always come to mind as the best of the best.

Tell us a little about Mira. It has been written that she is Spartacus’ “love interest.” Do you agree with that description?

Mira is a slave in the house of Batiatus who is Lucretia’s #2 slave after Naevia.  Her back story is a bit of a mystery, officially, but she certainly isn’t one of the more docile or submissive slaves. She’s got a head on her shoulders. And while she knows that she doesn’t have the brawn that the men possess or the amorality of a character like Ashur, she has the intelligence to navigate the dangerous waters of the Ludus and keep herself alive and out of trouble. This awareness of the world she lives in and her street smarts are tools which eventually come in handy.

It’s interesting that people think that Spartacus would ever need or want a “love” after the loss of Sura. She was his life. His devotion to her, his respect for her memory and the idealized way he speaks of their relationship, however, is in stark contrast to the male/female relationships that a woman like Mira has experienced throughout her time as a slave. I think she is fascinated by this picture he paints when he talks about Sura and that world is so foreign and so interesting to her that she is drawn to the idea of it. After all, don’t we often want things that other people have even when they don’t belong to us?

What was it like working with Andy Whitfield?

Most of my scenes are with Andy, so we spent a lot of time forging our working relationship, trying to get a feel for  our respective characters, and learning each other’s acting style and approach to the craft. For such a strong, violent character, the man playing him is equally kind and gentle. He is always open and collaborative with both his time and his spirit. He was eager to talk about our scenes, to prepare and to rehearse so we could do our very best on set each day. Never once did he act like a diva or have the attitude of “I’m the star of the show!”  

I personally believe he is the hardest working actor on the show because, not only does he have to exhaust himself physically with the demands of his role, but he has to drain himself emotionally due to all the things his character is being put through. And even then, when he’s done for the day, he doesn’t get to relax because his is needed at various red carpets, charity events and publicity meetings. The man gives so much of himself that it is hard to envy him his position and responsibilities. Everyone on the cast admires and respects the hard work he puts forth on a daily basis. I think that seeing how determined, strong of spirit and single-minded of purpose he is, is the main thing that lets me know he is going to overcome the personal challenges he’s currently dealing with and return to lead Season Two to even greater heights and accolades. He IS Spartacus!

Do you watch Dailies? If so…how do you use them? If not…why?

I do watch the dailies every chance I get.  Some actors never watch their work because it can be a painfully self-aware experience, but for me it’s important to know that what I think I am portraying is actually what is coming across on screen. It gives an actor a chance to tweak their performance as they go along. It also gives me a clue as to what the final product is going to look like and that is a rush, an inspiration and a very handy guideline to shape your performance around.  As an actor you put so much work and emotion into your scenes, but sometimes you don’t get to see the outcome for months so, selfishly, it’s also nice to be able to take away a little piece in order to hold yourself over ‘till the premiere.

You have been working with some of AUSXIP’s favorite actors (Lucy Lawless, Lesley-Ann Brandt, Craig Parker, Erin Cummings), producers (Rob Tapert, Paul Grinder), and directors (Michael Hurst) on Spartacus, what have you learned from them?

Wow! Big question!

I’d have to begin with Lucy Lawless. She is so humble, down to earth, gracious, welcoming and fun loving. However she is also intimidating which is very good since she’s my “Domina” on the show and I’m supposed to be scared to death of her. She has these piercing blue eyes, and as her slave you’re not supposed to stare directly at her, but they are so intense that it’s hard not to. She constantly surprises me with her choices and is so free and comfortable with them which is a lot harder to do than it sounds. I’m still working hard to master that aspect of my craft.

Lesley-Ann Brandt was one of the first people I met on set and she was very welcoming and giving of her time and spirit from the beginning. Unfortunately we didn’t have too many scenes together, but we created a relationship for our back story and we both felt that our characters did have a bond of friendship and almost a “bunker mentality” that soldiers in a war often share. We tried to express that whenever we had the chance. She has become a welcome ear whenever I need someone to talk to.

I have had the pleasure of working with Craig Parker  both on Spartacus: Blood and Sand as well as on Legend of the Seeker and considering that he often plays complex, dark or even downright evil characters I was surprised to discover that, in real life, he is HYSTERICALLY funny. He kept me in stitches between takes; just a joy to be around.

Erin Cummings and I were only in one episode together, but I was immediately impressed with what a hard worker she is; totally dedicated to her craft. She is also professionally savvy, which is a skill every actor has to develop in this business or they will be eaten alive. She’s absolutely determined to reach her goals, which I admire and respect.

Rob Tapert is the boss. There is never a doubt about that. But he is also direct and honest with his people at all times which is a breath of fresh air. He freely gave accurate criticisms and suggestions as well as sincere compliments when he felt you “got it right.” His door is always open to his people and he is very aware of everything that goes on around set and makes it a point to frequently check in and ensure you are being taken care of. My favorite “secret Rob Tapert moment” is seeing him walk around set, being completely head over heels in love with Lucy. Those candid glimpses of him were an inspiration for me that not all marriages in this industry end in destruction or scandal, though the tabloids would have us all believe otherwise.

Paul Grinder is a machine. During Season One, there was one week where he spent all week shooting for twelve hours each day, got on a plane to fly to New York City where he ran a MARATHON, then flew back the next day and went immediately back to work without missing a beat. He can come up with scenes to do in his sleep. Don’t be fooled for a second, without him, the entire series wouldn’t have turned out to be as amazing as it is.

It was a blessing sent from above that Michael Hurst was the director of my first episode.  It was intimidating coming in late to the series because the whole cast had already established their relationships and working methods and I was thrust into the mix with almost no time to catch my breath. Michael is genuinely excited to be working each day and his happiness to be doing what he loves is infectious. His enthusiasm translated into a sort of magic aura that wiped away any insecurity I may have had and immediately made me feel like a part of the cast. Having been an actor himself, he already speaks the “actor’s language,” so his direction is specific and he knows how to communicate effectively and clearly. Since I only had one week to prepare the character of Mira, I felt that he was essential in helping me pull out every nuance and fully flesh out who she was during Episode 9. This foundation carried me through the rest of season 1.

Finally, I feel that I simply have to mention Steven DeKnight. Without him, his guidance and his writers, this show never would have come to be.  He puts so much of himself into each plot twist and line that you simply have to honor all of his hard work by trying to get it right and convey exactly what he’s going for. He sees the “big picture” of the entire series so you have to simply put yourself in his hands and trust his guidance. One of my favorite moments was the time I went to the Writer’s Room to meet the entire writing staff. We were in the office and he popped in an episode from late in the season to show me how a scene had turned out. While we watched the (very cool) scene I witnessed the Show Runner/Big Boss/Head Writer transform into a big ol’ kid who was so excited he could barely contain himself. I also had to laugh when the writers instructed me to make sure Steven didn’t order another steak when we went out to lunch because, apparently, Steven is the biggest carnivore on the face of the planet. Fancy that…the Showrunner of Spartacus: Blood and Sand likes to eat meat. Who’d-a thunk?

Did you do any research about the era before or after you got the part? If so how has it helped you?

I had the general knowledge that most people possess about Ancient Roman as learned in school, movies and the History Channel.  As soon as I was cast, my fiancé ran out to Borders and bought five books (The Spartacus War, by Barry Strauss, Life in Ancient Rome, by F.R. Cowell, Spartacus, by Howard Fast, the complete Plutarch’s Lives which included The Life of Crassus, and The Civil Wars, by Appian) and told me to get started with the reading. This created a sort of “in depth crash course” on Ancient Rome and the story behind the Third Servile War.

All of this reading helped me get an idea of what the overall conditions and psychology of Roman society might have been like.  The way the Pre-Christian Romans viewed the gods, sex, violence, ownership of humans, and their general flippancy towards life itself was both shocking and utterly foreign.  Being cast as a slave I had to ask myself, if I wasn’t being chained to a wall, why wouldn’t I just run away?  Why would I do all of the horrible things that my owners make me do without even a whimper of protest?  For me, considering my own modern upbringing and ways of thinking, the biggest challenge was getting into the daily mentality of being a slave in Ancient Rome. Without the research I don’t think I would have been able to understand it.

Spartacus is a huge period piece. How have you found yourself dealing the costuming, hair, and make-up? Once it is all done and you walk on set, do you find it transforming or easier to get into character?

Well, my costume is practically non-existent.  It took all of two seconds to get into and out of so it was a breeze.  The beauty of the “slave” costume is its subtly.  Barbara Darragh put so much time, thought and love into a simple “frock” that the depth of detail is deceptive. She made each costume grow and change with its character’s growth. For instance my costume starts out very simple and muted in color, but as my character grows and gets stronger, you’ll notice the colors change, mirroring Mira’s feistiness in warmth and texture. Also Illythia’s costumes early in Season One were decorated with flowers and were quite feminine, but as her character developed throughout the season, a keen eye can pick out lots of…shall we say “aggressive” changes in how she is dressed and adorned. (I can practically hear four million remote controls hitting the PAUSE button over and over). Also you’ll notice that as Lucretia’s position changes and improves, her costumes gradually become more elaborate and fine as she climbs the social and financial ranks in status.

In Spartacus, Mira and Naevia are considered privileged slaves.  Naevia being the number one slave to Lucretia and Mira the number two. Because of this you’ll notice that Naevia’s costumes also gradually get nicer and more vibrant. Her costume starts getting pieces of metal and tassels as decoration as Lucretia’s status improves. Almost like a rich socialite would put a jeweled collar on a prized dog. In front of other slaves it does give you a sense of superiority just based on the fact that you are more covered up and are not as physically exposed on a daily basis as the others.   When in the presence of women like Lucretia and Ilithyia, it is also a stark reminder that they are your superiors simply because of their beautiful dresses, shoes, colors and lack of nudity. 

My make-up was very natural and simple and I didn’t have to wear a hair piece.  I was one of the few, if only, women on set that could take a nap in full costume and wake up without anything being in disarray.  Lucky me! In fact, I had it so good that I think if I even tried to comment or complain one of the other female cast members will find me and beat me up.

Jane O’Kane accomplished the same effects and told the same story with the hair and make-up as Barbara Darragh did with her costumes. Again, a keen eye will notice that Naevia’s hair becomes less tight and pulled back as the season progresses. Instead of being constricted, it is let down and allowed to be more flowing and free, thus indicating her privileged status. I think one of my favorite moments is when Ilithyia tells Lucretia that she will help her with her hair. That one simple (and very human) insult both captures the class differences of the time and also translates into modern “cattiness” that every woman has experienced at one time or another. And it was all just about the hair.

Are there any set stories or secrets that you could share?

Peter Mensah and I have come to the conclusion that we are long lost siblings. I am very clumsy and sort of accident prone and that man has managed to be a witness to every moment of awkwardness, goofiness or klutziness I have had on set.  If I drop a fork, he’s there to laugh at me. If I miss my mouth, he’s the one pointing out the stain on my robe. I’m the little sister that he likes to pick on.  One time I was trying to sneak two desserts away from the buffet during lunch without anyone seeing. I almost made it before my fork fell to the floor, making a racket. I  then tried to grab the fork which caused me to drop my desserts.   I did the ol’ look around the room to see if anyone caught me and sure enough, I heard Peter’s evil laugh from all the way across the room.   

Another juicy tidbit for you: If you ever talk to Lucy Lawless and she tells you that her thumbs hurt because of all the texting she does on her phone, just know that is a dirty lie.  They hurt because she is an iPhone Spider Solitaire addict and plays every chance she can get, sometimes even between takes. She puts it on silent and tucks it into her glorious gowns. She also refuses to get treatment.

What are the differences working in New Zealand vs. working in LA for you?

Everyone in New Zealand has an accent, though they keep trying to tell me that I’M the one who talks funny. They say “sweet as!” instead of just “sweet!”  They eat “biscuits,” not cookies.  They believe that Cricket is a sport.  They think their Rugby players would beat up our Football players (Do they even know who Jevon “the Freak” Kearse is? Go Eagles!) And there is also a serious lack of Mexican food in NZ.

Seriously though, I think New Zealand is a wonderful place to work and one of the most beautiful countries on the planet.  The people are gorgeous, humble, kind and down to earth.  I think the biggest difference between L.A. and N.Z. is that the industry is so small down here that everyone knows each other.  Even when I walked onto the set of Legend of the Seeker, I already knew about 30% of the cast and crew just from working on Spartacus.  Not to say that L.A. doesn’t get smaller and smaller as time goes by, but I think from the get go they say that N.Z. has only two degrees of separation.

You have a guest role on Legend of the Seeker as a Mord'Sith coming up. Did you know anything about the show before getting the role?

I was really excited about Legend of the Seeker when I first saw the promos for it back before Season One premiered.  I have always loved the world of fantasy.  Anything to do with wizards, magic, dragons, fairies, elves, men with long dirty hair and women wearing medieval style dresses and you can count me in.  I haven’t been able to watch every single episode but I have watched a lot of the series.  And while I haven’t read the books yet (it’s on my list of “must read” books), my dad and everyone else online says they are great.  So, yes, I was already a fan of the show and it made it that much more fun for me to be cast in it.

Did you enjoy being a Mord'Sith?

I absolutely loved being a Mord’Sith!  I remember watching Denna do her thing in Seeker and thinking “that woman is hot and I wanna be her!”  To have a legitimate excuse to wear that costume in public is a good time all by itself.  Plus, the cast and crew of Seeker are amazing and it is a joy to work with them.  My fiancé asked if I was allowed to take the costume home which earned him a swift smack upside his head. Can’t say that I blame him for trying, though.

What is next for Katrina Law?

Actress response- My wonderful team from VENTURE I.A.B, JOEL STEVENS ENTERTAINMENT and I are looking forward to my upcoming episodes on Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Legend of the Seeker and seeing what else we can get my acting paws into.

Personal Response- I am in the middle of planning a wedding so a walk down the aisle with my Dad is in the near future.  My fiancé and I just planted all sorts of fruits and veggies in our garden and I am looking forward to eating the world’s freshest salad.  In general, taking the time to enjoy the things that I have and looking forward to whatever God brings my way…I’m praying for something good.

The Response I am keeping secret from my wonderful team and personal trainer- After all the working out and dieting I’ve been doing to prepare for these two roles, I’m fantasizing about a full week off of training from the gym and, instead, indulging myself with red velvet cheesecake, mint chocolate chip ice cream, cream puffs, Mars bars, salt and vinegar chips, highly processed food that is preferably deep fried, pizza with extra cheese, and caramel popcorn…before I have to get back into gear for…wait…no spoilers!!! ;-)


AUSXIP would like to thank Katrina Law for taking the time out of her busy schedule to chat with us and we wish her all the very best. Spartacus Blood and Sand is shown on the Starz Network.

Photo Credits:

Photos of Katrina Law for this interview are courtesy of Brandin Photography
Photos of Mira from Spartacus Blood and Sand are courtesy of Starz Entertainment.

Important Links

Official Katrina Law Site
Katrina Law Twitter Account
Katrina's Management Team - Joel Stevens Entertainment
Official Spartacus Blood and Sand Site
AUSXIP Katrina Law News and Multimedia
AUSXIP Spartacus Blood and Sand