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!
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
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.