AUSXIP Interviews
Fan Q&A with
Manu Bennett

  10 June 2010

Recently fans were asked to submit their questions to Lesley-Ann (Naevia) and Manu Bennett (Crixus), the super couple of Season 1, below are Manu's responses. You can read Lesley-Ann's answers here

Many thanks to Manu for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer the questions below.

You can find out more about Manu in the exclusive AUSXIP Interview - click here to read

What type/style of fighting was that when Crixus fought Pericles? There was lots of spinning and sword work, and it looked very different than any of the other arena fights.

I have known Thomas Kiwi who played Pericles a long time & we both have backgrounds in dancing. It was coincidental that Pericles & Crixus were written to be 'equals' in movement & skill  & that it would take a battle of technique & determination, to decide who would survive. The fight choreographers really allowed both of us to move in a way different to previous fighters & fights. Funny but true, we were basically spinning & jumping as dancers. In fact, as the kill, "I stomped his face", which is a dance move rather than a weapon play.     

I enjoy the character Crixus because of the physical prowess combined vulnerability you bring to the role. You are in incredible physical condition, I wanted to know what do as part of your fitness regimen? What is your favourite and least favourite workout exercise?

I hate working to build size in my legs. With my sport & dance background, I've never needed to work hard on my legs but absent from both disciplines for a couple of years now, I do need to work my legs - It's hard & hurts.  

How much of yourself have you put into Crixus? Is there anything you've learned/taken from the character?

I get to release the warrior & the warrior gets to release me. It's a balanced relationship.

We really see a lot of Crixus' bullishness this season; a lot of debate has gone on about his innate goodness/badness. Is Crixus a bully, or a man in bad circumstances? Do you see him as a good person?

I see him as a product of his environment with reasons for each season.

What is the significance of the 'man-necklace' that Crixus wears?

The worked closely with the costume department trying to bring authenticity to the very few personal possessions Crixus could have as a slave & came up with the necklace & the theme of a crow, which in Gaul belief is "the harbinger of death". The front of the necklace is two crow heads joined in a clasp.



What did you think when you saw Lesley-Ann sporting the new haircut that Domina gave her?

It was so bad I cried, haha.

Did you at times feel like Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde playing Crixus? He is literally two different people when around the men and then around Naevia. Was it difficult to switch back and forth?

Everyone hides what they fear & seek to find others they can confide in. As an actor, I love the interplay - as my own person I understand the complexity.

Did you know this show was going to be as successful as it was?

We are still wondering what sort of success it will have. To date, it has only aired for one season in America.

How do you feel about your character's development? Do you like a one-dimensional killing machine? Or do you like showing a multi-sided Crixus?

As an actor, Crixus is my rubics cube. It's not that I can solve him & that's okay, but at times I do like to show pieces of him in striking colour. 

In the penultimate show leading the way to the Kill them All episode, it was evident that somehow it had to be a collective effort that takes over from individual pride of sacrifice to glory. Strength in numbers would overcome the oppression that has led the way so subtlety so far. And Crixus has, in my opinion, come out tops by collaborating with Spartacus to defeat the enemy and achieve the main objective of freedom. Spartacus comes out as the more rational leader, calm and decisive, whilst Crixus is the impulsive fighter who aims to be in the top spot, gets dragged part of the way and bruised, which at times shows that brawn is not always enough, as one needs more brains and self-control. Will this approach continue in the way forward, where we can see Spartacus as the leader of the pack against the Romans, with Crixus close by his side strengthening the brotherhood in this life rather than the next? It is the way that could guarantee Crixus reuniting with his love Naevia and Spartacus starting his life anew in the arms of Mira.

You will need to tune in next season.      

Did you have the character of Crixus all figured out when you started filming or did your understanding and portrayal of him evolve as the episodes progressed?
We were given new script every couple of weeks, each with huge plot twists & unexpected events. Basically we were like the viewer, holding on for the ride. 

Bloggers went back and forth about Lucretia's feelings for Crixus. Obviously there's the slave/master relationship but do you think it was more than physical for her? In the finale, if Crixus had told Lucretia that Naevia meant nothing to him, do you think she would have let him drink the tainted beverage?

Lucy & I have a great report, discussing our performances in context with the plot & always trying to find a way to make our characters & the scene compelling & interesting. The writing was fantastic & Lucy & I are both proud that the Crixus & Lucretia relationship has been so compelling & interesting for the audience. In direct answer to your question, some things are best left unclear.

In the season finale we saw the beginnings of genuine friendship and understanding between Spartacus and Crixus. How long will it last? Have they really put the competition of Ludus life behind them, or do you think there will always be tension in their relationship?

Keep watching.

To this day bloggers still argue over who the REAL Champion of Capua is. Do you still consider Crixus the Undefeated Gaul? Was he technically defeated by Theokoles, in your opinion?

Keep arguing!!!!!! 

It looks like Crixus will be in search of Naevia in Season 2. What can we fans expect from his character without Naevia to soften his brutishness? What additional complexities/surprises can we expect from his character?

If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise.

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

Nowhere in particular, I am thankful for the blessings I've been given.  


Did you and Lesley-Ann audition together at all before getting confirmed to the role? If you did, what scene(s) did you read together?

I actually didn't meet her until after I'd started filming. She was very unassuming, but stunning & subtly engaging.


Crixus and Naevia are such fan favourites. Much of it has to do with the incredible chemistry between the two of you. How do you explain it? Did the producers just luck out with the on screen chemistry between the two of you or is it something two very good actors can cultivate when there is real-life respect and affection not necessarily romantic)?

It's so funny....Leslie Ann & I are like walking around doing our own thing, or as she might say "thang", then suddenly we're Naevia & Crixus, locked in at 32 frames a second. We never expected what we got - but we both worked hard at it - that's what counts & were blessed to have each other. 


Do you think the audience will learn the back-story and circumstances of how both came to be at the Ludus?

Maybe. Hopefully.


What were some of the frustrations that you had about your respective characters?

She doesn't stop talking like a rapper & I don't stop doing push ups until 5 seconds before action. 


What kinds of creative license did each of you take with your characters?

If there were acting cops, we'd both have our licenses suspended. 

Your characters came together absent the hope of a physical relationship. Do you think you can have a fulfilling relationship without sex?

What relationship can last without it. Luckily we get to do the sneaky.


What is the biggest difference between you and your character?

I'm not allowed to kill my enemies.


What is the biggest similarity between you and your character?

We both scream when we're whipped. LOL


If you met your characters in real life, would you like them?

I'd probably do exactly what I'm doing onscreen. 

Do you see a happy ending at all for these characters?

Sometimes you have to accept the inevitable.

Have you read any of the fanfic?

Sometimes - it's great to see that we have such huge fan support for the show. 

What was your favourite scene to film? Why?

I really enjoyed my battle with the Gargan Twins. The stunt guys & I really ripped into that fight scene & it set a standard for fight scenes to follow. 

How do you feel about the fans reaction to your on-screen relationship? Was it expected? Were you surprised?

That relationship was always meant to put a spin on Crixus & in knowing that was coming, I initially played Crixus far removed from being a romantic. I think this gave the reveal the most impact.  

How do you make the emotion in your scenes so palpable and real? 

I have felt many things in my life & have now spent enough time acting to reveal emotional truths. This does take some time to learn an actor, because the craft involves a lot more than just saying lines.  

These two seem so different at first; how did you see/portray their attraction to one another?

Like the relationship itself, it happened through the understanding of attempts & mistakes & then accepting your own place within a relationship. 

Both of you have musical talents. Might we look forward to a Lesley-Ann/Manu collaboration for a Crixus/Naevia soundtrack?

Don't be ridiculous. Leslie-Ann can't sing. Haha. (She's gonna kick my ass for that)

Was it difficult to master the style of the dialogue used in Spartacus B&S?

They were happy with my voice but I still try not to sound contemporary.

Is there a personal code that you live by everyday? Some people live by the phrase: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What about you?

I have a cold shower every morning. I like to be awake.

You can find out more about Manu in the exclusive AUSXIP Interview - click here to read

Interesting Links

Official Spartacus Blood and Sand Site
AUSXIP Spartacus Blood and Sand

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