'Spartacus': Lucy Lawless returns for prequel ... and Season 2

lucy-lawless-spartacus-320.jpgAn incredulous critic asked "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" executive producer Steven S. DeKnight Saturday (Aug. 7) how he could have killed Lucy Lawless' character at the end of the show's first season.

What was he thinking? "I was thinking she was still twitching at the end of Season 1," DeKnight said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Lawless will, in fact, be back for Season 2 of "Spartacus" in addition to appearing in the six-episode prequel "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" that premieres on Starz in January.

"The original plan with Lucy and that character was to kill her at the end of the season," DeKnight says. "Basically we had John Hannah and Lucy for only one season. Toward the end of Season 1, Lucy was having such a great time, and we all loved her so much that there was interest in bringing her back. ... I said, 'Absolutely not. She's got to die! That's the way the story goes.' Then the next day I called up [fellow exec producer Rob Tapert] and said, 'Rob, I've got an idea.'"

DeKnight also says that "Gods of the Arena" began as a "germ of an idea" for some flashback scenes in a Season 2 episode. After series star Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with cancer, however, he started thinking about expanding the story. "I thought, well, how about I blow that up to a two-hour show, and we air in January while Andy's recovering," he says.

The idea of a standalone two-hour show didn't go over that well, but after some back-and-forth with Tapert and Starz, they settled on six hours -- "the bed was just right," as DeKnight puts it. "We're thrilled to be able to go back and tell a lot of the things you hear about in Season 1," he adds. "Little one-liners, like when Peter Mensah [Oenomaus] mentions his wife in one line -- now we've built an entire story around that."

Season 2 of "Spartacus" is set to begin filming in November, pretty much right after "Gods of the Arena" wraps. Starz hasn't set an airdate yet.

Here's the teaser for "Gods of the Arena":



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