Spoiler Alert: This interview discusses an important plot point from the Spartacus: Vengeance finale which aired on Friday. You may wish to watch the episode before reading.
Katrina Law is an actress, singer, and former Miss Teen New Jersey USA who is best known for her role as Mira on Spartacus: Vengeance, a part which sadly came to a close by the blade of a flying axe in the great Season 2 finale on Friday. We were fortunate to talk with the charming actress just before the finale aired, and she shared some great anecdotes about working with castmates Lucy Lawless, Liam McIntyre, original Spartacus Andy Whitfield, Craig Parker and others. She also owned up to some mischief in extending a Nasir and Agron makeout scene. (And for that we thank her!) Read on for details.
AfterElton: Katrina, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us. I’m curious—how does a nice girl from Jersey end up on the bloodiest, sexiest, most violent—and most awesome—show filmed halfway around the world? How did you get the gig on Spartacus?
Katrina Law: Originally I did a web series called The Resistance. The Resistance was a guerrilla style underground thing we funded with our own money, did our own hair and make-up, and put it on the web. Eventually Starz and Ghost House—which is Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi’s company—saw it, picked it up, re-funded it, and then had us re-shoot it. From there, when they were auditioning for the part of Mira, they looked in Australia and New Zealand, and when they couldn’t find a girl there, they decided to come to the United States, and one of the producers from The Resistance said, “Well, if you’re looking for a girl, look at this girl first, because we really like what she’s done on The Resistance.” And that’s how I got my start on Spartacus.
AE: In the first season of Spartacus, Mira is a house slave in the ludus where Spartacus and the other gladiators train. You’ve talked elsewhere about the “slave mentality” that Mira had then, and I thought that was very interesting. Can you elaborate on that?
KL: I think one of the hardest things about getting into this role was figuring out what the slave mentality was and believing in it because it is so different from the world that I live in now. Not having a choice of where you can sleep, or what you can eat, what you do, and not having that freedom of choice, knowing that if someone wanted you to stay in the house the entire day, you had to. There was no option for dreams. It was pointless to dream, it was pointless to have hope, even to love who you wanted to unless your dominus or domina gave you permission. I feel like sometimes the viewers have a hard time relating to that, and it took a while for the viewer to adjust to it as well.
Katrina Law with Andy Whitfield in Season One (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)
AE: I think you see it double in Mira, because not only is she a slave, she is a woman in this society as well. But if the viewer pays attention to your performance, you can see that in your face, especially as Mira changes from Season One to Season Two. All of a sudden Mira has this freedom that really forces her to develop—for the first time—her own identity. How did that process change for you, as a performer, from Season One to Season Two?
KL: In Season One, Mira didn’t have too many choices to make. Her domina told her what to do and she did it. Then all of a sudden Spartacus enters the picture. And she has never really interacted before with someone like this—who suddenly presents her options, gives her a little taste of what it would actually be like to be free, that maybe there’s life outside of this ludus. So for the first time those seeds are planted in her mind—so then after everybody breaks out from the ludus, she finds herself on her own with Spartacus and the rest of the rebels. But she suddenly finds herself completely inadequate. She has no way to feed herself, protect herself, or clothe herself, and she suddenly realizes she’s completely at the mercy of Spartacus and the rebels.
I think for a little while she’s okay with that, because she thinks, “Now that we’re free, we’re just going to run off into the mountains, and be happy and raise families and make babies.” But it becomes very clear to her very quickly that in order to gain that freedom she has to fight for it—and, unfortunately, she realizes she does not know how to fight. As the season progresses she gets introduced to characters like Chadara, played by Bonnie Sveen, who suddenly points out the outside point of view of how people see Mira, which is as someone sleeping with the leader for protection. In Mira’s eyes, she’s thinking, “No, that’s not the way it is, I actually love him.” Then, as her mental perception grows wider and wider, she starts to realize, “I think that is actually what I’m doing. If I were to leave, or get lost in the woods, how would I protect myself?”
So eventually she really has to find a way to become her own woman, to figure out where she stands amongst the rebels and who she is on her own. Does she have her own identity? She realizes that she doesn’t, so she is fighting extremely hard to find one. So when she picks up the bow and arrow and is trained by Lucius, I think that’s when she really starts to come alive.
AE: One of my favorite story lines for the whole season is Mira’s relationship with Chadara, and the ways in which Mira grows from that and Chadara really cannot, that she remains stuck in that notion of having to connect herself to someone she perceives as being more powerful. Of course, the really great thing is, as the new Mira, you get to kick butt!
KL: It’s so much more fun than holding a vase, let me just tell you that! I remember all during Season One I was so jealous of all the boys getting to run around and do crazy things like fight and be active and I would be standing there in the background holding something really heavy, watching them. (laughter) So this year was a lot more fun. Going back to the Chadara/Mira story, though, I think that was beautiful. I think it definitely shows two points of view of being a slave. Yes, Mira was a house slave, but she never really wanted to be. She didn’t have a choice. She had to have sex with the people she was told to, or she would die. Or be punished. Or starved. Or beaten. For the most part she kept her head down, tried not to be noticed, getting through life that way. Where the Chadara character realized, if I do these things, I get favoritism, so therefore I can elevate myself as much as a slave could. So there is no reason for her to change because it had been working for her for so long. It wasn’t until the very end, where all of a sudden Chadara realized that it wasn’t.