Aussie actor Andy Whitfield has been cast in the lead role in Starz' drama series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand."

In addition, Lucy Lawless has been cast in a key role in the series, which will begin production in New Zealand on April 1 and will premiere on Starz in January 2010.

Steven S. DeKnight ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Dollhouse") will serve as showrunner on "Spartacus" and will executive produce along with Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi and Joshua Donen.

The production will utilize "300"-style virtual environments to recreate the Roman Republic in all of its glory.

Whitfield ("McLeod's Daughters") will play Spartacus, a Roman soldier sentenced to death in the gladiator ring for defying a Legate. After multiple gladiatorial wins, he's sold into slavery, but if the Stanley Kubrick film has taught us anything, it's that he's destined for bigger things.

Lawless ("Xena: Warrior Princess"), will play Lucretia who owns a gladiator camp with her husband Batiatus and eventually comes to own Spartacus as well. In addition to credits including "Battlestar Galactica" and "Burn Notice," Lawless also just happens to be married to Tapert.

Starz also announced casting that includes: Erin Cummings ("Dollhouse") as Thracian priestess Sura, Spartacus’ wife; Peter Mensah ("300," "Avatar") as Doctore, Batiatus’ most loyal and trusted slave;  Manu Bennett ("30 Days of Night") as Crixus, the top gladiator at Batiatus’ Ludus; Antonio Te Maioha ("Legend of the Seeker") as Barca, a big, hulking brute of a man who is Batiatus’ bodyguard and hit man; Craig Parker ("Legend of the Seeker") as Glaber, a Roman Legate, who blames Spartacus for his failed military campaign; and Nick E. Tarabay ("Crash") as Ashur, a former gladiator who is now the Ludus’ resident bookie.

The premium cable network promises "a new set of stories rich in character, action, sex and combat."

 

 

 

 

Stay up to date with the latest breaking news in the worlds of movies, TV and music by signing up for HitFix E-mail Alerts.

Don't miss out. Add HitFix to your iGoogle, My Yahoo or My MSN experience by clicking here.

Not part of the HitFix Nation yet? Take 90 seconds and sign up today.