It is one thing to train for the stunts you have to do on STARZ’s Spartacus: War of the Damned. It’s probably another to deal with all the nude scenes, even if you get to do them with Gannicus.
Saxa is one of the newest series regular leads on Spartacus and she’s the show’s first female warrior. To learn more about her stunts, her relationship with Gannicus and what fans can expect in the final season, I recently spoke with Saxa’s portrayer Ellen Hollman over email.
Here’s what we discussed. Spartacus: War of the Damned airs on STARZ at 9 pm ET on Friday nights.
How did you first get cast as Saxa last season?
Just like any actor, I had to surpass a gauntlet of auditions among hundreds of potential "Saxa's." The ability to speak the indigenous language of the character as well as pull off the stunt work I'm sure helped me cross that finish line first.
How has your relationship with Gannicus evolved over the course of the season thus far? Do you think she in some way, actually loves him?
Saxa and Gannicus are mirrored images of each other—they're the first on the battlefield and last out of the bedroom. Their connection is rooted in friendship and has grown into their version of a formidable love over the course of this season.
I read you do a lot of your own stunts. How do you prepare for some of them? And have you ever accidentally gotten hurt?
I managed to do not some, but all my own stunts this season. Every slice of those daggers were my own, never using a double for any fight sequences.
However, this decision did leave me with quite a few bruises, scrapes and achy bones at the end of our 14-hour shoot days! Plenty of off-season training with knife legend Ron Balicki as well as MMA at True Warrior Fitness helped whip my butt into gear for the long season ahead.
Besides the crazy stunts in Spartacus, there's a lot of nude scenes as well. How did you deal with gearing up for you first one?
There's no perfect way to prepare yourself for baring it all on screen. Saxa isn’t the type of woman who would second guess her body or what she wants
I had to approach it with the utmost confidence and embrace each intimate moment completely—any hesitation would such scenes difficult to believe and uncomfortable to witness.
Without delving into spoilers, are you happy with how Saxa ends up at the end of the series?
I couldn't have asked for a more dynamic, kick-ass female to portray. To be considered just as fierce as the seasoned gladiators yet still maintain the sexiness of a strong woman was an absolute dream.
You get to see the full palette of Saxa this season, including the rare shade of vulnerability which I hope fans enjoy watching as much as I did experiencing it.
What else are you working on besides Spartacus?
Now that I've hung up my warrior gear, it's time to focus on an even nobler pursuit, my non-profit organization Visual Impact Now. We're hosting our 2013 LA Eye Clinic for over 1,000 LAUSD children with fellow Spartacus cast this spring and it takes quite a bit of work to put it all together.
While I'm always on the hunt for the next juicy role, my next obligation is to give the gift of sight, one pair of glasses at time.