The Iris Interview: Christian Antidormi & Todd Lasance of Spartacus (New Zealand/USA)

With Supanova winding down in Adelaide today, fans had scattered to catch the final panels for the weekend and take up final opportunities in snagging autographs and photos with their favourite guests. Sitting in on the Spartacus panel (one of the funniest of the weekend), I was interested in the popularity of the historic drama – in the case of SpartacusRome and others, some pretty graphic interpretations of ancient history. So, near the end of the afternoon, I sat down with Todd Lasance and Christian Antidormi, who portray a young Caesar and Tiberius respectively, to have a chat about working on such a show and doing the Supanova rounds for the first time.

How has your weekend been so far?

Todd Lasance: Excellent.

Christian Antidormi: Lots of fun!

TL: It’s been so good; this is only my second…Supanova is actually my first ever convention that I’ve ever done, that I’ve ever attended personally, let alone on the panel side of things. It’s been awesome! The people have been so good and it’s one of those opportunities where we actually get to hang out with Spartacus fans who are so passionate.

CA: The level of passion that these fans have is amazing. It’s really cool to hear their stories; we get a few people coming in to bring us posters and stuff that they’ve made, it’s a good experience. We love half of the exhibitors ourselves, we’re going to go out there and buy merchandise too! It’s an experience for us as well.

You [Todd] were saying in the panel before that you still don’t feel like you’re in the ‘public eye’, as it were. It’s got to be such a trip out to see these people cosplaying, seeing them coming up with merch, asking specific questions related to you in the panels…

TL: Yeah! It trips me out, the fact…I guess, the only way I can kind of rationalise it in my head is by thinking of the shows and games that I’m interested in, I would love to meet those people! I can see the drawcard of what Spartacushas: the particular era, the battles and the rawness of it. It kind of taps into that primal, instinctual aspect as well, so I can see the drawcard of it. For me personally, it’s still unusual that people recognise us.

CA: Yeah, it is quite a weird thing and I think being in Australia, where the show is big but it’s not as big as it is abroad, it allows us to not have to delve into that as much. We can easily just go down the street and just enjoy our day here; we don’t have to worry about that sort of stuff. Overseas, in the States, it’s a little bit different. It’s cool, you know? When we meet the Spartacus fans, most of them are really passionate about the show, so it’s really great to be able to see that.

It’s really cool! Thinking about how the show is made and how excellent the visuals are…harking back to productions like 300 and those graphically depicted stories, as actors, it must be great to get into the nitty gritty of a show like this and see how it comes together on this technical level.

TL: Yeah! We were saying…I think we were talking yesterday about the fact that, when we are actually watching the finished product, we’re watching the show as kind of a fan audience too. We’re shooting with green screen; our studio actually looks like this, except it’s a castle or it’s a forest or it’s a mountain range! When we’re watching it, we’re actually getting to see the show for the first time as an audience member as well; we’re actually enjoying it and appreciating the visual effects. For us, it’s just as exhilarating. We’re in it and we know what’s going to happen, but we’re looking at green screens every day, all day!

CA: Getting to see how they depict the landscape and the sky, because there’s not an inch of sky above us when we’re shooting! To be able to see that…you get a bit of amazement out of that. It’s always a fresh thing and you’re always wowed by the talent of the visual effects people.

Totally. So, when you’ve first started preparing for the role, you’re researching the persona you’re taking on and envisioning the landscapes an situations you’re in…how do you remember getting into such a mindset for the first time?

TL: The scene I struggled with the most was one of the final battles and we’re meant to have arrows coming at us, getting charged by armies and there’s literally the three of us standing there, watching the fake battle and the director’s yelling at us, ‘And the armies are coming together and there’s arrows coming at you and there’s javelins!’ and you’re ducking for nothing. You know what I mean? I think, for me, the landscape isn’t the part I find hardest to create with my mind, it’s the non-existent battles. There is absolutely no sound, because they’re doing audio, so you’re just talking with a completely dead-still environment, having to imagine this epic battle taking place around you. That’s what I found the hardest.

CA: Yeah, same, I had a similar episode in Episode Four, I think, when I went up against my father’s orders and decided to tackle Spartacus, ultimately. We had to pretend that there were cannon balls being thrown off ships and that there were now 500 people chasing us and you have to see the change in the sky from all the fire and everything. It’s a test, but you know, that’s our job!

TL: [Laughs] That’s acting! It’s all just make-believe.

You can just sit back and be like, ‘Meh, I was just in a battle, no big…’

TL: Totally! We let those visual effects teams just make us look awesome!

Well I suppose, on another note, being Australian actors in such a massive production that has taken off as well as it has internationally, what are your thoughts on how Australian talent is moving further into the American market especially?

CA: I think the world is merging, with technology, it’s doing it a lot quicker than what we expect. I think everything is becoming intertwined and I think Australia’s really lifting in the quality of what they can do and how they can do it, more importantly. We’ve got some great places to shoot here and we’ve been a very popular ground for overseas markets to come and shoot stuff here. It’s still happening, so the more that that happens and the more that Australian talent goes over to the States and puts their foot into the big blockbuster films and television series’, it really does well for the Australian name and the industry.

TL: Honestly, this is going to sound weird, but I think it’s partly to do with our culture. There’s just a different essence. Every country offers their own essence to do with their culture and heritage, but there’s something grounded about our culture and about the people here. No one’s ego is allowed to build up too heavily, or people will cut you down, do you know what I mean? [Laughs]

Yeah! It’s like this dry, almost sarcastic wit and way we seem to have down pat!

TL: Yeah! We also have an extremely intense work ethic too; I know particularly, with my experience on Home & Away, the work ethic was so solid. I would never shoot more scenes and more time, than I did on Home & Away. We would be pushing out an episode a day, nearly, and that’s unheard of in any other show around the world, really. The fact is, you have to be so prepared in doing such a massive amount of dialogue, so when you do step in to the United States or other projects, you’re like, ‘Yeah, I’ve done the hard yards, as far as learning scripts and being disciplined’. I don’t know, we just seem to have a different focus.

There might be something in being on Home & Away, look at the actors to have entered that industry from that show, there might be something in the water!

TL: Something in the Summer Bay water, as soon as you jump in the ocean!

It’s produced Thor!

TL: [Laughs] Yeah!

CA: Yeah! I think it’s also got something to do with being constant in a role that is very progressive. I only had a very small experience with Home & Away, but from what I gauged, they’re very nurturing and I think that can give you a good platform to build and to gain that experience to take anywhere around the world.

Totally! That’s all I had for you lads, I think – thanks so much!

TL: Cool!

CA: Thanks so much!