AUSXIP Spartacus News


        26 September 2014

Spartacus Rebels Paris Convention Report by Olansamuelle

Get comfortable because Olansamuelle has written a fantastic convention report of the first ever Spartacus Rebels Convention which was held in Paris on the weekend!


Liam (Spartacus), Manu (Crixus), Erin (Sura), Lesley-Ann (Naevia I), Dan (Agron), Jenna (Kore), Dustin (Gannicus), Ellen (Saxa) and Stephen (The Egyptian).

Photo courtesy of Au Boudoir Ecarlate Facebook Page

Spartacus Rebels convention was held in Paris, at the Hilton de Roissy hotel, right in front of one of Charles De Gaulle airport terminals, so getting there was very easy for everyone regardless of their origin.

There were two main areas for the convention, that I’ll call the Con HQ and the autographs zone.

CON HQ: it was on the ground floor, right by the reception, so it was hard to miss. It consisted of a large space where registration, queues for photo ops, the selling stands and Saturday night’s party took place; the main hall where all information concerning schedule was provided and Q&A panels took place, and the studio where photo ops with the actors were taken. If anyone needed to reach a staff member, there was always more than one available around.

AUTOGRAPHS ZONE: two different rooms on the first floor. When signing was happening, staff made sure lines kept flowing so no actor was momentarily left with no one to sign.


First registration day was Friday, late afternoon, and those of us who were there witnessed what was going to be a constant throughout the weekend, which may have put a bit of stress on both organisers and attendees, especially the first half of Saturday: Spartacus Rebels was People Convention’s first event of this kind ever, and it showed.

Their main concern, and I mean this as the most positive thing, was that we all got our tickets and extras correctly and there was no mistake whatsoever, to the point that the girl who gave me my pass, realised she forgot to hand me the program –someone else gave it to me a bit later– and as soon as she was free from her duty she looked for me so she could apologise personally. And by no means this implies they were not professional, because they absolutely were! It means that they also cared. That is something that made quite a difference for me, and was hugely appreciated. More on that later.

But, as in all first times happens, some lessons were learned the hardish way, the first one being the schedule, a beast that went right out the window from minute one.

The opening ceremony welcomed all the actors: Liam (Spartacus), Manu (Crixus), Erin (Sura), Lesley-Ann (Naevia I), Dan (Agron), Jenna (Kore), Dustin (Gannicus), Ellen (Saxa) and Stephen (The Egyptian). Right after that, autographs started, and people were called according to their pass category (VIP, 4 stars, 3 stars, 2 stars).

First mistake surely learned for a hopefully second time (and despite it all, as far as I know, everyone got their autographs): you cannot plan signing sessions of only 30 or 45 minutes when you are bringing in the Spartacus cast and you pretend that everyone who paid for their autographs gets them. You just can’t. These guys were beyond professional with their fans. I’ll take a bow before every single one of them and will give special credit to Manu. “Mind blown” was something regularly spoken among us, fans, and I am not exaggerating in the slightlest.

First autograph session, which, as I was saying, obviously lasted much more than initially planned (several hours), featured Erin, Dustin, Dan, Manu and Liam. For anyone unfamiliar with these kind of fan-celebrity activity, you just basically queued, potentially got directed to the shortest line at the moment by a member of the staff, then redirected back to your former place to the longer line so autographs kept coming and lines flowed as flawlessly as possible (this improved the next day); to allow everyone at least more than two minutes with every actor but keep things moving, photos with them were not allowed (actors did break the rule a couple of times, sneaky awesome people). Gifts were kindly accepted by all, and every actor took their time in talking with every fan, making us all feel treated with respect and kindness.

There was a signing session scheduled for Ellen, Stephen, Jenna and Lesley-Ann which ended up not happening until Sunday morning(*), literally no time available if the Q&A panels and the photo sessions were going to take place that day as announced.
(*) I did read on someone’s review, however, that a late signing with those actors was actually held, which proves that the flow of information will need to be improved a lot in future conventions, because last minute changes were not always properly announced, in my opinion, and attendees were forced to either stalk the staff continuously making sure things were happening, or remain on the Con’s HQ just passing time with not much to do around (another of the negative things mentioned on a general level by fans, lack of alternative activities, like fan panels).


The panels felt a bit rushed, they lasted less than half an hour, and allowed for about five questions. However, we cannot forget we're talking about a nine guests list for two days, and all had quality time because the organisation divided the actors in different sessions, so despite the shortness, we did feel all of them got time to be asked and answer questions. And the actors were equally hilarious, generous and emotional during their answers.

Deserved credit to lovely Patricia, moderator and translator who moved between English and French like a champ. Her translation of Erin’s first answer regarding her first role, along with the acting got ErinG to crack up and Liam laughing out loud saying “This is the best thing ever!”

(Credit to who officially covered these panels; their account is in French, but very complete, which has allowed me to fill some gaps in my memory in order to write this report. Their links are at the end.)


Image courtesy of

Question 1, for both actors: what was what surprised you most in Spartacus?
LIAM: the quality of the writing; with how much love and respect it was written, how much importance was given to the dialogues on a show with so many fighting and action scenes. And he also mentioned how much they enjoyed reading the scripts with all those plot twists and turns.

ERIN: Erin mentioned the fact that, due to the numerous nude and sex scenes, it was difficult to find actors for some roles, and in her case, even her agent tried to dissuade her from doing it, as if not believing in the potential of the show and fearing it could damage her career. (I for one will always be grateful that Erin went with her guts on this one). Erin mentioned already knowing Steven DeKnight, with whom she had worked on Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, and Rick Jacobson, director in Spartacus, who had directed her on Bitch Slap (which, if you haven’t seen, you absolutely should, hilarious cameos included!!!!!! Take the time in checking the trailer:

Erin believed in the role, believed in the show and went for it, but she was still surprised by the eventual international success of Spartacus, since it was a show featuring mainly fairly unknown actors (at the time of Blood and Sand, Lucy Lawless and John Hannah were the only actors known to a wider audience) and on a new channel.

Question 2, for LIAM: That Doritos commercial dance...can you do it?

A true gent, LIAM even went down the stage and did the thing for all of us, earning some serious applause, and then proceeded to explain a confused Erin what was that Doritos commercial thing about. Looking back, he mentioned it as a mistake.


An absolute sweetheart and very, VERY generous in sharing her experiences with us, Erin didn’t leave Liam alone on the question and told us how her first role was in an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise playing a prostitute rejected by a client.

Question 3: for ERIN (this was my question): Considering that, unlike Spartacus, you played a character that could almost be considered as original, since history doesn’t say much about her, how was your process as an actress in bringing Sura to life?
ERIN mentioned firstly Sura’s aspect, how she changed her hair color (she’s a redhead) and ALL the body make-up needed since she has a very pale complexion.

Side note: during breakfast on Monday, she also told us she had worked with costume designers to create Sura’s dress+corset.
The first mention of Andy during the con came when she told us how she created the accent: Andy recorded himself reading Sura’s lines to help her with it. And she also spoke about how important it was for them both to represent the strong love that Spartacus and Sura felt for each other, knowing that it was fundamental for Spartacus’ journey. A deeply emotional moment for us all, and again, all my (I assume everyone’s) gratitude to Erin’s generosity in sharing those moving memories with us.

Question 4: LIAM: was your training as hard as you made it look, or were you exaggerating? And do you still train?

The question was received with smiles and laughs both in the attendees and the actors, and Liam delivered one of the many crack-up worthy moments of the con.

He talked about him formerly being a gamer who would spend his time sitting, eating crisps and gaming, words accompanied by fitting actions -more laughs ensued, and his performance was good enough to have some fans in the photo ops asking to be featured with him as if they were playing videogames: Liam’s singing on those pictures on Sunday: priceless. Check his facebook page, he’s posting fans pics!-

After that he told us about a role for which he had to get Christian-Bale-in-The-Machinist thin, which was a very hard process. And then came Spartacus, for which firstly he had to go through training to gain weight and muscle (and see if he could really fit the part and undergo the actual gladiator bootcamp in New Zealand), for which his trainer received, literally, the following guideline: “See where he breaks.”

So, after such a tough experience, he concluded, it was easier to keep training than to going back to being the chubby guy, although he would not be against having to play someone who allowed him to eat as much as he wanted.
The panel went by fast, but it was fun, full of nice and funny and touching moments.


Image courtesy of

As soon as he entered the room, Manu Bennett, showman extraordinaire, invited the cosplayers brought in (magnificent Blood and Sand Spartacus (Chris Mason) and Crixus (Leobane Cosplay), Vengeance Gannicus (Leon Chiro) and War of the Damned Crixus (Matteo Artemis) and Saxa (Michela Ortolani)) to come up the stage.

One of the questions was more a trivia for MANU on Crixus’ lineage, than a proper ask-and-answer: it recalled his first scene with Lucretia during Gods of the Arena when she asked him how many brothers he had, and how many brothers his father had had.

QUESTION 1, to MANU: any chance you will go back to ARROW?

MANU said that this upcoming third season, writers were going to develop in depth Ra’s al Ghul, but as far as he knew, producers did want him to return to the show at some point.

QUESTION 2, to LESLEY-ANN: why did you not return to Spartacus for seasons 2 and 3?

To quote Lesley-Ann: “Ah, the million dollar question”. She explained that she had not signed for five years, so after the prequel, still not knowing what was going to happen with the show, she had gotten a job in the USA, and when season 2 was confirmed, they all tried to make her schedule work, but it couldn’t, so she was both sad and a bit jelaous, because, although she had done the gladiator bootcamp during Gods of the Arena, she had not had any fighting scenes, but on the other hand she was happy that her absence left a door open for Cynthia Addai-Robinson to reprise the role (she did mention that in her forthcoming show, The Librarians, she gets to do some sword fighting).

QUESTION 3, to JENNA and LESLEY-ANN (my other question during the convention): being non-historical characters, were you told your character’s journey during each season?

Both said that no, they were not, and despite the gravity that defined their characters and their tragic ends, managed to get the audience to laugh a couple of times in their answers.
JENNA, coming to Spartacus when the show was on its last season, knew what she could expect, but she was only told that something very horrible was going to happen to her character (referring probably to Kore being sexually abused by Tiberius), with no further detail, and revealed that at the beginning it was still not clear whether Kore would survive or not. On that note, she mentioned that she had loads of fun hanging from the harness on the cross, because that was the first time she was covered in mud and blood, while the rest of the cast was so over that.

LESLEY-ANN said the same. New scripts were given every two weeks, and she described the reading experience as opening a Kinder Surprise chocolat egg. And she remembered how she learned Naevia was going to get a new haircut by the end of episode 1x12 (Revelations), to which she added, in case anyone still had a doubt, was a wig.

QUESTION 4, to MANU (also answered by LESLEY-ANN): Of all the faces Crixus had, what was your favorite?

This question brought another emotional moment to a Q&A panel. MANU told the fans how, like Crixus, a big part of his life had also been about surviving, referring to losing his mother and brother in a traffic accident when a truck crushed against their car.
He used some past experiences, both to dig into Crixus’ personal tragedy and his gentle love, beautifully describing a fan-favorite moment between Crixus and Naevia at the very beginning of their relationship during season one: when he offers to take the broken jar pieces to throw them off the cliff so Naevia is not punished and their hands softly touch through the bars that separate them.
Every answer in all panels was followed by an applause from the crowd. Needless to say, after these heartfelt words, there was a huge one.

LESLEY-ANN also used her South African roots, making reference of apartheid, when creating Naevia. Both Crixus and Naevia belonged to different worlds: he was a gladiator, she was a house slave and they were not supposed to talk to each other.
And that was the end of another great time shared with the actors.
The afternoon was spent on photos, and meeting room with Liam for those who bought those extras and gave more time for fans to meet each other.


On quality, fans reviews paint a colored picture: some good, some bad. One thing that cannot be denied is the big variety of pictures fans could choose from.

Solo pictures with all nine guests.

“Brothers”: Liam and Manu
“Friends”: Liam and Dan
“Endless love”: Erin and Liam
“Champion”: Manu, Dustin
“Crixus/Naevia”: Manu, Lesley
“Duo couple”: Ellen, Dustin
“Gladiators”: Manu, Dustin, Dan (Sunday)
“Gladiators”: Liam, Manu, Dustin, Dan (Saturday)
“Girls”: Jenna, Ellen, Erin, Lesley-Ann
“Group”: all nine cast members
The cast have been sharing some of those pics on their twitter / instagram / facebook pages, any one interested, check them out!

Following the day’s messed up schedule, the party “Rebels versus Romans” didn’t start on time, but none of the people who attended shared any complain on Sunday morning other than the party beginning late but finishing on time. Other than that, everyone seemed very happy on Sunday morning.
The general comment was that all the actors who went to the party mingled and chatted with everyone in the room. Many going to the party and with convention experience mentioned this with especial fondness and respect for two reasons (again, in this case, borrowing other attendees’ comments on Sunday, I was not there): most of the cast was present, and secondly, the actors mingled with everyone, true to the Spartacus rebels spirit, not making differences of any kind with the number of stars on each person’s pass.

Sunday started with autographs, being announced that Liam would do his remaining photos and signings in the afternoon, since for professional reasons he could not be present on Sunday morning nor at the closing ceremony.
To my knowledge, everyone got their autographs, and again, a slow clap for Manu who did a non-stop signing session from 10 am till early afternoon, and similar for Liam after lunch! Again, WHAT A CAST!!!!!

The management of autographs and photoshoots was slightly better handled than on Saturday, considering there was an added stress factor, since photo ops and autographs were happening simultaneously: staff members spent their time making sure everyone got their photo and those who had to leave an autograph line to get their picture taken, returned to their same place. A lot of respect for each other among the fans helped, so everything went smoothly.

Remaining meeting rooms with cast also took place along the day.
The downside of the time management issues was that they had to cancel a Manu/Dustin Q&A, so Dustin, who still had not taken part in any Q&A session, joined Ellen, Stephen and Dan for the only panel that took place on Sunday. Considering some people had convention pass only for those Q&A, not autographs or photos or meeting rooms, that was something the organisers of the event will have to be more careful in planning for future reunions. But that panel was, as far as I know, the only casualty of the convention, and they made the necessary changes so every actor was on a Q&A.
On a side note this might be a good moment to mention that despite the things to improve for future cons, we are talking about a first-time organization who was able to bring an impressive list of NINE quality guests, including a last minute replacement just a week before the start of the convention when Nick had to bow out and Lesley-Ann joined the list.
Back to the panel:


Photo courtesy of Au Boudoir Ecarlate Facebook Page

As the others, a very funny panel to attend. Stephen was hilarious, none shied away from the fun, and be warned, it included Dustin singing!

QUESTION 1, to ALL: What was easier, nude scenes or fight scenes?
ELLEN said that a fight scene that could last three minutes on screen, could take up to twelve hours of work, whereas a sex/love-making scene took way less time. “Ten seconds in my case,” interjected an always cheeky and funny Dan, prompting the crowd to burst out laughing.

Then, more seriously, DAN confirmed that fighting scenes took long, you could get hurt, and it could be very exhausting, and nude scenes put the actors in a vulnerable position and in a moment where –especially in the love-making scenes–, they had to convey deep, honest emotions that had to be believable on-screen while being on a set with twenty other people. (He would be asked about his beautiful scene with Nasir, fear not; Nagron fans got it covered, question #4).

DUSTIN, and equally nice and shy man, shared ELLEN’s and DAN’s opinion.

STEPHEN, in one of the most hilarious moments of all the panels, deadpanned that nudity was not in his contract. ELLEN, his partner in real life, following the fun, said he was a liar on the love-making scenes and she knew what she was talking about, to which jokes (with respect!) referencing the icloud photo leak and Dan’s nudes over there followed.

QUESTION 2, to DUSTIN: would you do a spin-off featuring Gannicus on his years of freedom between Gods of the Arena and Vengeance? and to DAN: same question with Agron/Nasir post War of the Damned
At first Dustin did not know how to answer that. He mentioned that that was the very first time he had been asked such question, and that he had honestly never thought about it. When everyone was thinking that was all his answer, he suddenly wondered if that would be interesting, since over those lost years Gannicus had become a hairdresser, spending his time braiding people’s hairs. As I said, a very funny panel.

DAN, as well as Dustin, said that it was also the first time he had heard that question. He said that, yes, perhaps, if the project was good enough, he would reprise the role of Agron, but according to history, Caesar went after the escaped rebels, so he figured, goat farm mention apart, that the result would not be a very happy show to watch.

QUESTION 3: the question was initially posed to Dustin and his fighting, especially with two swords, but ALL ACTORS joined in: how was learning their respective combat skills, was it difficult?

DUSTIN: he had a fencing background, so to him the most challenging was perhaps to re-train his feet movements, more than his hands. It was also the time to give proper credit to stunt doubles, trainers and fight choreographers. As time passed and they gained more practice and experience, rehearsing and shooting fights became easier and easier, to which DAN absolutely agreed.

STEPHEN’s background is that of a stunt double, and he had kickboxing experience, and that technique was closely tied to The Egyptian’s combat of choice with the knives, so fighting as The Egyptian was easy for him, but he wanted to add a personal touch, for which he was helped by a trainer in New Zealand* and also with one of the trainers who also worked with Manu on Arrow.

During one of the meeting rooms, Stephen mentioned one of his trainers in NZ had played Drenis, the last slave to fall on the arena during “The Red Serpent” right before Spartacus is tossed in to fight Solonius’ men (credit to Arturo Gumbao for the information).
ELLEN mentioned her preference for The Egyptian’s weapons since, due to her physique, she believed the knives to be more believable for Saxa than a bigger sword or spear. That implied her having to focus a lot on agility, movements and speed. She also mentioned that it was written for the last episode of Vengeance –and she has said that on twitter several times– that Saxa stole The Egyptian’s blades from his dead hands, and that if you squinted and paid attention, you could see Saxa doing that in the background.
She also mentioned the fact that she did not have a stunt double for those combat scenes, so, as added challenge, she did all her stunts.

QUESTION 4, to DAN: his thoughts on the Nasir / Agron love making scene on season three, and his favorite Nagron scene.
DAN said that what he loved the most about that scene was the fact that it came after a well planned build-up for the couple, that it was not gratuitous at all, to which everyone agreed. His favorite scene with Nasir was probably their last, walking off into freedom at the end of the show.

QUESTION 5, to DUSTIN: What part of Dustin Clare is Gannicus?
DUSTIN’s answer was that perhaps he was not the most suited to answer, and he let his panel-mates speak instead. DAN talked about both Dustin’s and Gannicus’ joy for life and the fact that they were quiet men, but when they talked, words were listened, because what he had to say was always worth it.

ELLEN added Gannicus’ laugh, and that twinkle in the eye that could not be faked. She said that was all Dustin.
And right when the actors thought the panel was over, a request for Dustin was made by the crowd: SING!. Initially reluctant, claiming that the fact that he had sung in a movie (movie Goddess: did not mean he could actually sing (“It’s all smoke and mirrors!,” he tried to reason), he finally caved in and dedicated Dan (who couldn’t help cracking up before following Dustin’s lead) a fragment of Elvis’ “Can’t help falling in love with you” ==> video on the link at the end!
Before the panel was concluded, Dustin took the chance to announce that his upcoming independent movie, Sunday, will premiere worldwide, on different platforms, the seventh of December. This is the website ( and they’re currently running a crowdfunding campaign to improve the release of the movie, you can check it out here:

Once all planned activities ended, we went into the main hall for one last time with the cast (or so some of us thought).

CLOSING: a hello to Andy, see you next year, a Haka and emotional tears.

With only Liam missing, all remaining eight actors entered to say goodbye. With no doubt, the most heartfelt moment of the convention.
The order of events might be a bit jumbled, emotions were high, but this is what happened:

Knots on throats began when Manu took the microphone and told us that there was someone missing there and then, his hand pointing upwards, and requested that we all dedicated a huge “I AM SPARTACUS!” to Andy.

All actors thanked the fans and the staff for a great weekend, and expressed their wish for a second convention happening next year, bigger and better! I will quote Erin asking us all to “facebook and tweet about it” so it happens. It would definitely be something worth repeating, without a doubt!!!!

A fanbook was given to all actors by Sarah Noto, the girl who had the idea of making it and worked hard throughout the weekend so we could all sign it and write a message to the cast. All nine were genuingly surprised and took their time in peeking through the book on the stage before they had to leave, leaving us wondering who of the nine would keep it.
Manu remaining the last, which opened the chance for some fans to request a HAKA, which he absolutely did, leaving all the crowd clapping and cheering the man. Again: THIS CAST. THIS. CAST.

The convention was not completely over yet. Once the actors were gone, we sat back to see one final, extremely touching and emotional video paying tribute to Andy. I don’t think many were able to leave that room with dry eyes.
Some general final notes:


I cannot stress enough how wonderfully nice, dedicated, hard-working and beyond professional this group of people is. You can say that it was their job, you can say that they were getting paid for that, but the amount of respect these actors have for the show and their fans is part of what makes the Spartacus family so special.

They were gentle, they were funny, they were nice, they were generous and they left us all with wonderful memories to keep.
A massive AAA+ for them all!!


Positive and less positive things can be said if one is to leave feedback to the organisation, and some things will need a lot of improvement, but overall, concerning the people at the hotel working on the con from Friday to Sunday, I can’t but express my gratitude for their efforts.

Like I said before, there was always someone available for questions, problems, or anything any attendee needed. At the end of the day, they did their job, they surfed through a new and first –and stressful!– experience bent on making everything happen and again, all of them, including the very big imposing security staff, treated us with the utmost respect and politeness. Some may disagree and I am just sharing my experience and other comments from fans, but I did have a problem on Sunday with three autographs, and they made damn sure I got them the proper way (I got to meet the actors and give them what I wanted them to sign) despite they were one hundred percent out of schedule.


People of a fairly wide age-range came from many different parts of the world: France, Belgium, Croatia, Spain, the USA, Australia, Italy, the UK..., and if there’s one thing that can be said reigned during the whole weekend was RESPECT: for each other, for the actors, for the staff.

Everyone was nice, everyone was ready for a smile, for keeping someone else’s place on the line when they had to juggle between autographs and photos, and basically, for having fun. Great crowd!

Some months before the event, fans were contacted concerning an idea in the works: to make a fanbook to be given to the cast at the very end of the convention: fans were invited to send messages or fanart to be included there.
The idea is credited to Sarah Noto, who was helped by Birgii Standaert, Mathilde Standaert, Carolyne Nasradine and Fatima Kouki in contacting fans through social networks. During the con, they worked really hard in making sure every attendee had the chance to write something, and Sarah designed a beautiful cover for the book.


During both days of the convention, attendees could get prints, buttons, t-shirts and more from both cosplay agency Pixidolls ( ) who brought some really impressive cosplayers, and Australian comic book author Shaun Paulet, creator of Extreme Champion Tournament (XTC), which features Spartacus, brought back to life in the future and thrown back into fighting for his life in the arena ( their issue #0 (sold at the convention) was successfully funded months ago and issue #1 is enjoying a very healthy kickstarter campaign ( Cast has been very supportive of the story, be sure to check it out!


Most people left the convention on Sunday evening, as we assumed the cast had. A small group of us remained and were having our last breakfast together on Monday, when suddenly Erin came by (!!!) and joined us (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) We failed so gloriously at reacting that she had to actually tell us she was Erin, just in case we hadn’t recognised her. (Writing this since pretending to say it was early in the morning and we were still not fully awake is probably futile).

As throughout the whole weekend, Erin was warm, kind, funny as hell, gentle and so, so very generous with us! It is a memory none of us little fortunate ones will easily forget! We are grateful that, I think, representing all fans of the show, she gifted us with the chance of letting her know how much we respect Spartacus, and how special it is for many of us, and how, as a fandom, we shared and experienced all the good and the happy and the sad and the tragic things that came with it, and the way it touched us all. And we could tell her once more how much everyone loves Sura and how she resonated and was present until the very end of the show.
And regarding the fanbook’s fate, she let us know the amazing decision the cast ended up with concerning the “but there is just one book” dilemma: Erin took it with her, and after copies are made for the cast to have, the book will be sent to Steven DeKnight.
May this mark the beginning of a long life for Spartacus conventions, what a wonderful weekend!

The following blog has posted several hundred officially allowed pictures from Sunday:


PEOPLE CONVENTION’s Facebook page:

CONVENTION REBEL SPARTACUS: the main group to know all things Spartacus convention for pics, some videos and personal reviews, both in English and French, and great feedback exchange with the organisers. Again, bravo to the staff.

From YOUBECOM.FR (includes video links):
Arrival (video included):

Liam / Erin Q&A (Doritos commercial video included):

Manu / Jenna / Lesley-Ann Q&A:

Stephen / Ellen / Dustin / Dan (Singing Dusting video included):