Wednesday, January 14, 2004

USA Network plans new Spartacus

"...a new Spartacus will be a tough sell to viewers who know the 1960 film and its strong cast, including Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton and Peter Ustinov in an Oscar-winning performance. The miniseries features Angus MacFadyen in the Olivier role, Rhona Mitra of The Practice in the Simmons part and Alan Bates, who died last month, in his final screen performance.

Visnjic, who plays Dr. Luka Kovac on ER, acknowledged the risk of assuming a role so linked to another actor. 'Kirk Douglas is my father's favorite actor,' he says. 'So when I told my father I'm going to be doing Spartacus and I've made my decision, he was like, 'Better be good.' '

Beyond his personal challenge, Visnjic says the story of slavery in 72 B.C. and rebellion against the Roman Empire needs to be told again. 'For Spartacus to create the uprising and to do something was so extraordinary,' he says. 'I would compare it with inventing the theory of relativity. It was such a huge issue.'

It will be a huge miniseries, with 32,000 extras and major battle sequences staged in Bulgaria."
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