When it comes to the women on the STARZ cable network period drama Spartacus: Vengeance, there certainly are no wallflowers. True, these so called members of the “fairer” sex have at one time or another been put in their place by their respective beefy or politically connected husbands or lovers, but they always seem to bounce back by making good use of their beauty and other feminine wiles.
One character who is more than capable of holding her own in a conflict is Saxa, a German warrior played by Ellen Hollman. While she may still have a great deal to learn about the Roman-centric world around her and how to survive in it, she is more than up to the challenge, mentally as well as physically.
“Saxa is a lioness in training and a born leader, but she’s not quite able to fill out her ‘paws’ yet,” explains Hollman. “She takes what she wants with no hesitation, using pure tenacity, ferocity and a dose of calamity. To step into those paws was an utter and complete challenge for me, not to mention an exceptional joy. To have the liberty to perform with complete, unbridled passion and impulse was a daring feat that will hopefully pay off onscreen.
“Aside from the aforementioned ferocious, tenacious stuff, Saxa is a hero in the making. There is no question in her mind that she can match any man regardless of size or entitlement. This may or may not get her ass kicked from time to time, but that’s how you grow stronger…at least that’s the idea. With this in mind it was a welcome challenge to face being the ‘first female warrior ever to grace the screen of Spartacus.’
“I’ve been an athlete my whole life, but what can prepare you for such a huge chunk to chew? Well, countless hours in gladiator boot camp, of course, attempting to conjure up the most intense and brutal fight sequences for a 115 pound savage. Needless to say there were plenty of cuts, bruises and scrapes, and that was just to the ego,” jokes the actress.
“It’s not just a fighting role and a physical role, but also one that requires fluent German. They failed to mention both of those aspects when I was reading for it,” Hollman tells TVGuide.com. When Hollman heard that casting director Paul Weber had just returned from Hamburg, she made a comment in German. “He was like, ‘Wait, you speak German?’ I said, ‘What do you think ‘Hollman’ is?’ And [series creator] Steven DeKnightwas cracking up and said, ‘This is a German role. We just didn’t specify that because nobody speaks German.’ I’ve also been doing fighting stunts for quite some time, so I guess it was just one of those things that was meant to be.”
In Friday’s episode of Spartacus: Vengeance (10/9c, Starz), Saxa (Hollman) continues to fight alongside Spartacus’ men, seeking to liberate all from the tyranny of the dissolute Roman elite. Saxa was among the German slaves that the rebels had freed from a Neapolis slave ship as new recruits to their cause.
Check out Hollman’s other insights into Saxa and the dangers and pleasures on set:
What was your reaction when you read for the part of Saxa? Were there any surprises?
Ellen Hollman: It was a massive casting call. What’s funny is that the character description is so much different from what you see on the screen. The material I had to read was actually Ashur’s (Nick E. Tarabay) monologue when he’s basically torturing Oenomaus (Peter Mensah). So from my perspective, I thought the character was going to be more refined, if not Romanesque. Even the attire I wore for the audition was more Roman… But I was meant to play a filthy, German, feral savage.
To be the first is never easy.
It certainly wasn’t easy for Amelia Earhart who in 1932 became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
It probably wasn’t a cakewalk either when in 1983 Dr. Sally K. Ride became the first American woman to be sent into space.
And it apparently wasn’t easy for Ellen Hollman who will portray Saxa, the first female warrior on the Starz’s hit series Spartacus Vengeance
TV Equals had a chance to talk to the intensely charming Ellen about her new character, the grueling preparation she had to go through, the “liberties” she took on set and how she wants to do some “dirty jobs”.
Check out what she had to say below and don’t miss Ellen in her first appearance as Saxa in the upcoming Spartacus Vengeance episode “Sacramentum” airing tomorrow Friday March 8 2012 at 10 pm.
How did the opportunity to play Saxa come about for you?
Ellen Hollman: Just like anyone else, there’s always the auditioning process especially for a character as particular as Saxa because she’s not just a female German warrior. There’s that description alone which is physically demanding, but she’s also fluent in German.
As regular viewers know, the hit Starz series Spartacus: Vengeance has no shortage of eye candy for both male and female watchers, along with plenty of medieval action to boot. Just when you thought you couldn’t possibly have more beautiful and compelling people on the same screen together, along comes actress Ellen Hollman, who makes her debut as Saxa in Episode 1.07: Sacramentum airing Friday, March 9 at 10 PM ET on Starz. The actress will shake things up for both Katrina Law’s Mira and Dustin Clare’s Gannicus… with a memorable kiss between Saxa and one of those characters in her debut episode. I recently had the chance to speak with Ellen Hollman about her new German warrior character Saxa on Spartacus: Vengeance. Take a look at what she had to say below.
From what I’ve read about Saxa, she’s this feisty German warrior who loves kicking ass. I was curious how an audition goes for something like this. Did you have to display any physical skills when you were reading for this part?
Ellen Hollman: I have a background of athleticism, and I’ve done just about every sport under the sun. I do have a stunt reel, so that definitely helped making it to the final round, with my stunt reel and my ability to speak German. I guess there aren’t that many that fit that bill in Hollywood (Laughs).
I can’t imagine there are a whole lot of actresses with those skill sets.
Ellen Hollman: Well, they wanted a tall, muscular blonde woman, who can speak German and fight. It’s like, ‘Uh, maybe you should go to Germany?’ I was pretty fortunate with that.
“Spartacus: Vengeance” continues to blow our minds this season. Between Mira (Katrina Law) and her butt-kicking, Liam McIntyre owning the role of Spartacus and the amazing story lines, we are beyond addicted to this show. The very good looking cast doesn’t hurt either.
We’ve got some brand new pictures for you from this week’s episode, “Sacramentum.” Spartacus and his rebel forces try to increase their numbers by freeing fighters enslaved in foreign wars. This week we’ll also get to meet Saxa (Ellen Hollman), a powerful warrior.
Hollman is also really funny, as you can tell from our earlier interview with her. Check out her fantastic prank on Lucy Lawless.
Ellen Hollman is the latest addition to the cast of “Spartacus: Vengeance,” which has it’s season premiere on Friday, January 27th. She’ll appear a few episodes in as Saxa, a pretty touch chick. We were lucky enough to get a preview of her character, her feelings on nudity and who Saxa is going to hook up with. Also, she is hysterical!
“Saxa is the first female German warrior to join the ranks of Spartacus. She’s fierce, fun, intelligent and a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. In other words, she will kick your *ss and have a laugh about it later.” She has her eye one one of the hot guys in the show … at least Saxa does. “She has a keen eye for Gannicus (Dustin Clare),” she says “And not one to take ‘no’ lightly.” Well, where there is love or lust, there is certainly sex, especially on this show. We asked her if the nudity made her hesitate at all. She replies, “Nudity? There’s nudity on this show? I’d better start doing some sit-ups.” Okay, we love this girl already!
Hollman said she loves working with the cast. “They are, and continue to be like family. I’m beyond fortunate to have such genuine, dedicated and supportive friends by my side on screen. It is extremely helpful when you’re thousands of miles from home.” When asked if she’d been a fan of the show, she answered, “Yes! Hell, yes!” We asked her how intense this season will be for her. “Your jaw will be on the floor,” she says. About the show’s popularity, Hollman explains, “It crosses every line normally saved for film. It sets new boundaries for television as we know it from performance, to fight, to choreography and aesthetics with beyond shocking story lines.”
Hollman says there is no shortage of funny moments on the set. “Once I became overly confident with my fight choreography,” she says. “I decided to ’embellish’ a few moments in between (we did, after all, spend a good 8-10 hours shooting each fight sequence and idle time in Saxa’s hands is quite dangerous). Mira (Katrina Law) and I had a fight together and after we defeated the competition, I grabbed her face and laid a big ole kiss on her. The reaction from everyone was beyond priceless! Needless to say it made the final cut. Ha!”
Finally, we asked this funny lady if there were any juicy tidbits she could tease for us. She says, “Forget the tease, I’ll give away an entire plot line with one of Saxa’s lines: ‘Warum hast du die römische Hure nur freigegeben, um im Gegenzug nichtserhalten?’ That sh*t is crazy right?” Okay, Ellen Hollman. You rock! We can’t wait to see Saxa if this interview is any indication! (In case you’re wondering, it translates to something like, “Why have you released the Roman whore only to get nothing in return?”)