Starz recently publicized that it would be seeking an actor to replace Spartacus lead, Andy Whitfield, as he continues his cancer treatment.

Now, the network has made its choice, Australian actor Liam McIntyre will take over the role of Spartacus in the long overdue second season of the hit cable program Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

On the heels of what was undoubtedly an arduous casting process, to find a suitable replacement for the face of their burgeoning franchise, Starz president and CEO, Chris Albrecht said in a statement:

Since no one can really replace Andy, we realized that we should instead find an actor who can truly lead Spartacus forward. It was important to us to have Andy endorse the idea of recasting the part, which he did in the same heroic manner that he’s dealt with this whole ordeal. And that, coupled with our fortune in finding a young actor with the gladiator credentials and the acting ability of Liam, makes it easier for us to keep this hit franchise going.”

For the role, McIntyre bested several other candidates, which had recently been whittled down to include Stephen Arnell and Aiden Turner. While McIntyre most certainly attracted producers with his acting ability, his close resemblance to Whitfield likely did not hinder the networks decision. McIntyre’s face, if not his name, will likely be familiar to viewers of the HBO miniseries The Pacific, where he played Lew in the episode entitled Iwo Jima. Also, like fellow Aussie actor Ben Lawson, McIntyre has been featured on the long–running Australian soap opera Neighbours.

The announcement of McIntyre’s casting is well-timed as the premiere of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is just days away. Gods, a six episode miniseries set prior to the first season of Spartacus, debuts on Starz January 21.

According to representatives at the network, McIntyre is already on hand in New Zealand to begin his training. The actor will have precious little time to get in the kind of gladiatorial fighting shape needed, as production on Spartacus: Blood and Sand resumes this April in New Zealand.

The show is slated to return to the airwaves around this time next year.

Source: Entertainment Weekly