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?
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
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.
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.
It is one thing to train for the stunts you have to do on STARZ’s Spartacus: War of the Damned. It’s probably another to deal with all the nude scenes, even if you get to do them with Gannicus.
Saxa is one of the newest series regular leads on Spartacus and she’s the show’s first female warrior. To learn more about her stunts, her relationship with Gannicus and what fans can expect in the final season, I recently spoke with Saxa’s portrayer Ellen Hollman over email.
Here’s what we discussed. Spartacus: War of the Damned airs on STARZ at 9 pm ET on Friday nights.
How did you first get cast as Saxa last season?
Just like any actor, I had to surpass a gauntlet of auditions among hundreds of potential “Saxa’s.” The ability to speak the indigenous language of the character as well as pull off the stunt work I’m sure helped me cross that finish line first.
How has your relationship with Gannicus evolved over the course of the season thus far? Do you think she in some way, actually loves him?
Saxa and Gannicus are mirrored images of each other—they’re the first on the battlefield and last out of the bedroom. Their connection is rooted in friendship and has grown into their version of a formidable love over the course of this season.
Ellen Hollman, 29, plays vixen Saxa on the STARZ original series Spartacus, and surprisingly, she isn’t that different from her feisty, tough-girl character. (Case in point: Hollman does all her own stunts.) The third and final season of the show, War of the Damned, premiered January 25th. If you’ve caught it you know there are some pretty epic and bloody battle scenes, which include plenty of hot female fighters kicking serious ass. Hollman tells us all, including the surprisingly simple ingredients of a killer date—whether or not she’d be up for some role playing after.
Do you feel a connection to your character in Spartacus?
Saxa is described as “a tenacious, vivacious force to be reckoned with.” We’re practically twins…minus the whole rebel-savage-fighting-an-epic-battle-everyday kind of thing.
What’s your workout secret to getting those rock hard abs of Saxa?
Aside from a hell of a lot of core work with MMA and knife fighting, I recently discovered hot yoga mixed with ballet and weights. That combo calls for a little bit of grace, a lot of sweat, and a few occasional tears.
What’s your favorite part of a guy’s body and why?
You can tell a lot about a man from his hands. If they don’t have any scars or calluses on them, you might as well assume they cry at romantic comedy films, too.
Spartacus: War of the Damned premieres on January 25 with actress Ellen Hollman in the role of Spartacus rebel Saxa for the final season on Starz.
Although Ellen Hollman trained hard for months to play Saxa in Spartacus: Vengeance, Hollman hit the gym and Gladiator Boot Camp even harder for the final Spartacus season called War of the Damned.
After Saxa formed a close allied bond with Dustin Clare’s Gannicus last season, the former slave takes her relationship with the Spartacus General to whole new level. In fact, as Ellen Hollman told The Deadbolt ahead of War of the Damned, everything goes to a whole new level in the final season of the popular Starz series.
What can fans expect from Saxa in War of the Damned?
When we recently caught up with Ellen Hollman for an exclusive chat, the double-dagger wielding Spartacus beauty talked about the evolution of Saxa, her relationship with Gannicus, training for the season, and her favorite moment in War of the Damned.
THE DEADBOLT: So, what’s it like to go from a slave to true warrior rebel this season?
ELLEN HOLLMAN: Well, Saxa doesn’t quite look at herself as a slave, more like a prisoner of war. My biggest challenge was going from the feral, feisty rebel to a full-on warrior goddess, and making that transformation happen in less than a year’s time.
My god, it’s been an absolute honor and privilege. Hopefully the double-dagger skills I have will allow me to survive on the streets of L.A. when I’m trying to get my next job.