Liam McIntyre, an Australian actor largely unknown to U.S. audiences, will take over the starring role in the popular Starz series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," reports the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker blog.
McIntyre will be taking over the role from Andy Whitfield, who has left the show as he battles non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the story notes.
"It was important to us to have Andy endorse the idea of recasting this part, which he did in the same heroic manner that he’s dealt with his 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," said Starz president Chris Albrecht, according to the story.
Production will start in the spring, and McIntyre, who had a role in HBO’s "The Pacific," is currently getting into gladiator shape in New Zealand, the article notes. The series earned the highest ratings of any Starz original series, it adds.