By Curt Wagner, @ShowPatrol
7:31 PM CST, January 24, 2013
Todd Lasance was so intimidated about playing Julius Caesar in "Spartacus: War of the Damned," he nearly turned down the role.
The Australian actor was having lunch with his parents when his agent called to say that he'd been hired to play the great Roman leader in the Starz series.
"I nearly burst into tears because I was so excited," Lasance told me during a conference call with reporters. "There were hugs all around and five minutes later I jumped in my car and I swear to God I was two minutes from calling up and pulling out of the role because the fear hit me of what I was just about to undertake."
Thankfully the 27-year-old didn't make that call, and makes Caesar a worthy adversary for Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) in the third and final season, which begins at 8 p.m. Jan. 25. When young Caesar, new to the series this season, makes his debut in the Feb. 1 episode, he allies himself with another powerful Roman, Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells), to try to take down Spartacus and his growing rebel army.
Lasance, who has appeared in several Australian TV series, prepared to play the Roman by reading as much as he could. But there wasn't a lot available on Caesar's early years, so he also talked with producers about their research. In the end, he said, all he could do was go on his instincts.
"It was extremely daunting, I will admit," he said. "I felt this weight of needing to carry Caesar. ... When you look at Caesar, you need to see someone that would potentially become one of the greatest rulers in history. So I think that played on my mind a lot and I wanted to do him justice, especially with not having a lot of information to sort of work on.
"But my first day, I was absolutely terrified."
Lasance's Caesar is a brash, hotheaded military commander in his 20s who is more eager to battle with a sword than with words. He's blond and buff, and although he has a respect for Roman authorities like Crassus, he's something of a rogue who "kind of flies his own flag to a degree," the actor said.
He's not the older politician wearing a white cloak and wreath viewers might be expecting, Lasance admitted, but "when they see Caesar, they're going to expect to see some sort of X factor. So I'm just hoping that, you know, that comes across."
McIntyre, who himself was new to the series in the second season when he took over the Spartacus role from the late, great Andy Whitfield, thinks Lasance brings that extra something to the role.
"Todd's got this total Brad Pitt vibe," McIntyre told me in a separate interview. "I'm just like, 'Wow, I want to be you.'"
"I think he plays a really exciting Julius Caesar that you haven't really seen on film before," he added. "He's young; he's rude. He's totally selfish. It's just such a wonderful take on this amazing man. I think he's fascinating and he gets better as the season goes through."
Lasance might have even more time with Caesar even after "Spartacus" ends, if rumors of a spinoff about the character prove true.
"There hasn't been anything specifically, officially spoken to me about it," Lasance said, "but it would definitely be something I would look at if it was brought to the table."
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