May, 2013 | Ellen Hollman earned herself a place in the hearts of “Spartacus” fans by portraying the Germanic warrior Saxa. In our interview Ellen talks about preparing for this strong, physical role, working with her castmates and how the “Spartacus” cast and crew keep the memory of Andy Whitfield alive.
1. Saxa is an exceptionally strong female character who made a great impact on the viewers. Had you ever expected such a huge response and what will stay with you from the experience of playing her for the rest your life?
It’s a rare honor and privilege to be able to have such a strong, physical role to play as a woman. It’s heartwarming to see such a favorable response from the audience as I gave my absolute all to Saxa. I can promise you that a piece of that sassy, Germanic warrior will always be with me.
2. Saxa is such a fierce warrior who easily takes on any Roman soldier. Did you do a lot of research about if there really were female warrios like her in the Servile War?
I assumed that for a female fighter to be accepted by her fellow male counterparts she would have to be just as (if not more) rude, brash, violent and skilled on the battlefield. Saxa may not be glamorous at times but you believe every moment she has a weapon in her hand. As for research, there have been remains of a female Gladiator that was discovered in Trier, Germany. Apparently they fought bearing midriff and portrayed their victories by raising one arm high above their heads. Sound familiar? I found this out after shooting “Vengeance”, it was sheer coincidence that my character happened to have the same physicality as the ancient female Gladiators. Perhaps it’s in my blood after all?
The Spartacus star reveals how she trains for the physically demanding role of Saxa on this addictive Starz series—and why Thai takeout makes her feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Q. Are you super-careful about your daily diet?
A. With every meal I do my best to keep a balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats. I try to avoid anything fried because it makes me feel sluggish afterward, and like I’ve wasted hours of training on something that doesn’t even satisfy my hunger.
Q. What’s your favorite cheat/treat meal?
A. Pad Thai, hands down. I allow myself one cheat day a week, and in my case it’s “Fat Sunday.” If I don’t have to be on camera the next day there’s nothing like a belly full of sodium and noodles to make you feel all warm and fuzzy.
Q. How often do you work out?
A. Five days a week. I treat exercise like it’s my job. I do something nearly every day, though it varies. I’m a huge fan of circuit training, Bikram yoga, and MMA. For cardio, I prefer to do an hour-long canyon run in the California sunshine—nothing gets those endorphins firing more than a scenic mountain run!
Q. If you had to pick one, what is your favorite strength exercise?
A. My favorite exercise is quite mobile, actually. It’s the P90X Ab Ripper, which can be done anywhere. I tend to travel a lot, and try to keep my core toned with this amazing 15-minute routine.
Q. How has your role in Spartacus pushed you physically?
A. There has never been a job that has pushed my physical limits quite like Spartacus. I do all my own stunts, and with that responsibility I have to make sure I’m able to do what is asked of me. There’s no way to fake your way through something like that. I’ve spent hundreds of hours training to have every moment on screen be my own!
Q. In what ways would you say you are most like your character?
A. Saxa is a tenacious, vivacious force to be reckoned with. I’d like to think I have mild versions of those qualities, but she takes them to a much more extreme level. She has a halo balancing on a pair of devil horns and a natural confidence that’s fun to watch despite her incessant vulgarity. I’m just the driver—she’s the one giving directions!
Source: Muscle & Fitness Hers
After speaking with Ellen Hollman, Saxa on Spartacus: War of the Damned, earlier this year, it only made sense to talk to her again to get her thoughts on the series finale that aired last month.
(Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen it of course!)
Here’s what we discussed:
Let’s get this out of the way first: what did you think of your death scene?
You mean perishing on the battlefield amidst my fellow warriors in the arms of the God of the Arena himself? Pretty damn awesome.
You started out in the season very much with Gannicus, but he pulled away and we saw less of you towards the end. With that being the case, how come she still basically said she loved him while dying in his arms?
The denouement of ‘Gaxa’ was always destined. Even as quoted by Spartacus himself, Sybil represented innocence, purity and those we were meant to protect. I was beyond fortunate to have the writers keep me around until the final showdown, despite not being Gannicus’ better half anymore ;)
What did you think of Saxa’s decision to have her last words in her native tongue instead of a language Gannicus understood?
Even in her fleeting moments Saxa was true to who she was, a tenacious and proud German warrior. Despite not speaking the language himself, Gannicus understood her deeper meaning. After all, what’s more important than love at your last breath?
What did you think of some of the other death scenes?
We were all fortunate to watch it on the big screen together as a little Sparty family. Between sniffles, cheers and aw stricken gasps, I would say everyone had a spectacular gruesome departure.
Are you sad Spartacus is “already” done? What will you be doing next?
It’s bitter sweet to say the least. Who wouldn’t want to run around in a loincloth beating up handsome gladiators all day? I did however give it my absolute all, and it was one hell of a ride. The friendships and experience of working on such on amazing show will last a lifetime. As they say though, on to the next.
In my case? I hope it won’t be holding a cardboard sign that says, “will act for food.”
Source: Star Pulse
- Hey guys, Ellen here! Or by those closest to me to it’s Elle, Ellie, Elliebell, El-train, E-bomb, Elbow, Elge,’ Elf, or Hurricane Ellen. I’m the type of girl who dives head first to see how deep the water really is, hearing ‘No’ means try harder, and the only settings I operate on are ‘go’ and ‘go faster.’ You could say my goal in life is to squeeze as many awe inspiring moments as I can while I’m still kicking, in case this is the only shot I get at it. This being said, here are a few of my favorite things:
- My Favorite cities are NYC & LA. NYC for its expedient, no BS nature and LA because the sun sets a few blocks from my house…
- My favorite way to unwind after a crazy day is to play chef. That’s right, throwing on an apron and being semi-domestic keeps me in touch with my feminine side, and gives me an excuse to spend hours at Trader Joes.
- In 2008, I became CEO of Visual Impact Now, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing in need LA youth with eye exams and glasses. Managing 1,000 kids for a week long clinic is quite a productive hobby!
- When I’m not galloping along the beach with my honey and seeking a more intense workout, my fave workout haven is True Warrior Fitness. Toby Tigerheart helped me get into Saxa warrior shape for Spartacus.
- I spend quality time at Hot8Yoga: nothing kicks your ass more than a 100 degree room with weights and ballet!
- My favorite place to eat is Kabuki Sushi in Hollywood, best happy hour EVER
- I love beautiful Kauai. Any place where you can sip Mai Tais, zip line through a rainforest, and hike to a waterfall within an hour is my kind of paradise.
- I was raised by two classical musicians and by default it’s my favorite genre. My mother a master pianist and my father a concert violinist. Here’s a link to the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra, it will make you smarter just by listening!
- My favorite show is Spartacus: War of the Damned. I had the honor and privilege of portraying the first ever born and bred female warrior Saxa. It was an experience of a lifetime working in New Zealand with all the gladiators!
Ouch Magazine: Ellen you’re from the midwest – what makes a man or a woman sexy? How was the transition from Michigan to LA culturally for you?
Confidence, a sense of humor and good manners to boot are alluring on any man or woman. After transitioning to LA from the good ol’ midwest, those particular qualities are hard to find in a trio.
Ouch Magazine: This is the Hot Body issue and we chose you for the cover because you have one of the hottest bodies in Hollywood! Can you let the readers know how they can achieve a healthy body like yours? Walk us through a day in the life of your exercise routine.
Aww, thanks guys! Plenty of blood, sweat and tears go into being a German warrior for two seasons. This includes MMA, knife training and hot yoga with weights 5 days a week. Keeping a challenging and unique array of exercise is good way to ensure you wont bore yourself out of being fit. Nutrition is just as important, you’ve got to feed the machine well if you want to build lean muscle. Skinny girls can’t conquer Roman empires.
Ouch Magazine: Ok, what types of food do you avoid? What foods are life savers, with your busy schedule?
I avoid anything fried or smothered in dressing. Keeping a diet balanced in protein, carbs(yes, carbs) and good fats will ensure I don’t crash in between 14 hr days of shooting crazy fight sequences. A Luna bar slapped with almond butter and a coffee is my perfect pick me up.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but in Spartacus: Vengeance , it’s smokin’ hot. Proof? The show’s April 1-born star Ellen Hollman (a.k.a. Saxa) gives us the sword-, scandal-, and sex-filled lowdown.
Ellen Hollman has been a TV regular for years, and you’ve seen her in everything from Malcolm in the Middle to The O.C. to Weeds. She caught our eye in Spartacus and we couldn’t get enough till we tracked her down.
Maxim: Spartacus is a total guy-friendly series. What’s your favorite part about shooting the series, now that you’ve done two?
Ellen: Doing my own stunts and choreographing my own fight scenes. I did a lot of knife training with reverse-grip double daggers. You take two daggers, reverse the grip, and then just fuck shit up, basically.
Maxim: Nice. We also hear you had to flip a 100-kg dude over your head in a scene. How was that?
Ellen: My life may or may not have flashed before my eyes a few times. I was a thrill, though.
Maxim: Glad we didn’t have to do it. Has there been anything on the show you were glad you didn’t have to do?
Ellen: Oh, yeah. My character has dabbled in just about every graphic category across the board, but some people got it worse in the vulgarity department than I did.
Maxim: We hear you. We had Katrina Law–who plays Mira–on our pages some months ago and she felt the same way. For an actor, how does a show like Spartacus compare with other shows or movies that you’ve done?
Ellen: Spartacus stands alone in that it’s like shooting a movie every three weeks for seven months straight. I’ve never experienced anything in my life that’s quite like it.
Maxim: Neither have your fans and the general television-viewing audience. The show has some kick-ass ladies–you know, tough and hot. How has your character, Saxa, evolved over the course of the series?
Ellen: Saxa has gone from feisty kitten to fierce lioness. She’s grown into her paws and is bigger and badder, giving the guys a run for their money.
Source: Maxim India
Ellen Hollman is returning to star as Saxa, one of the new series-regular female leads on STARZ smash-hit series Spartacus: War of the Damned. Hollman, 29, is one of the few actors on the show who perform all their own fight scenes–no stunt double for this brave heroine! Aside from acting, Hollman is the CEO of Visual Impact Now, an LA-based nonprofit that serves as a fundraising and awareness arm for their partner One Sight, providing free eye exams and glasses to children and families in need. We can’t wait to see what other projects this young lady has in the works. James Bond girl, maybe?
How would you describe your personal style?
Sleek and Lady 007 is my goal for red carpets, but behind closed doors it’s Miss Bohemia.
What’s your favorite item in your closet?
Everything with a three-inch-plus heel. Picking just one would be like choosing a favorite child.
What’s always in your purse?
YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick in Le Orange.
GLAMOHOLIC: You’ve been acting in L.A. for just about a decade, what was the first acting gig that made you feel like this dream was real?
ELLEN: One of my first acting jobs ever was NCIS. I was agent Tina Larson and despite it being a one day guest spot, it was absolutely thrilling to be really doing it.
What made you want to pursue a career in acting?
I went to school for business and marketing with a minor in German. I figured I could wear a suit whenever I want, so why not go to New York and see what happens. I was nineteen years old, went out to New York and studied in various studios. When I felt I was ready I took off to Los Angeles to pursue the dream.
What has the pursuit of the dream been like for you here in Los Angeles?
It’s been hell! The funny thing is people only see the end result. They don’t see the blood, the sweat, stress and tears that go into getting to that. I think what a lot of people also take for granted is the discipline required to be a successful actor. You have to be so confident. If you think about it, your job is mostly to be rejected as opposed to be a performer. I have been rejected thousands of times, and yes, it’s for that one chance to be on screen and do what you love. You have to learn “no” just means try harder.