Australian film and TV actor Liam McIntyre has excelled at a grueling and rigorous audition process to claim the title role in the second season of Starz' hit franchise, Spartacus: Blood and Sand Starz, LLC, President and CEO Chris Albrecht announced today.

McIntyre takes over the role of the Thracian warrior sold into slavery in the Roman Republic city of Capua - where he rises to become the champion of the city - before leading the slave revolt that ended Season 1. The part was played in the first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand by Andy Whitfield, who was forced to leave the show in order due to health issues. Whitfield gave his blessing to the recasting.

"Since no one can really replace Andy, we realized that we should instead find an actor who can truly lead Spartacus forward," Albrecht. "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."

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Liam McIntyre made his mark in his native Australia on such series as Neighbours and Rush. He also appeared in the HBO mini-series The Pacific. He recently completed his first feature starring role in the independent film Frozen Moments. McIntyre is currently in New Zealand, getting himself into gladiator shape in order to take on that iconic role. Production on the series is slated to resume by Spring of 2011.

From the time Spartacus: Blood and Sand debuted on Starz in January, 2010, it established itself as an epic production with rich storytelling and visuals unlike anything seen previously on any TV show. Audiences responded immediately, making it the most-watched premiere in Starz' history, and making the show the most watched cable program on nearly two-thirds of the Fridays it aired original episodes. Also starring John Hannah as Batiatus, Lucy Lawless as Lucretia, Peter Mensah as Doctore, Manu Bennett as Crixus and Viva Bianca as Ilythia, Spartacus: Blood and Sand was one of the most talked-about and best-loved TV shows of 2010. Season 2 of the series finds Spartacus and his fellow gladiators now out of Capua and engaged in the massive slave rebellion against Roman society that has echoed through time.