Interview With Christian Antidormi of Spartacus
We got to talk to actor Christian Antidormi, who plays Tiberius on Spartacus: War of the Damned.
For an inside look at what’s to come in the final episodes of Spartacus: War of the Damned, I got the chance to interview Christian Antidormi, who plays the much-maligned character of Tiberius on the show. We talked about his beginnings as an actor on a Disney show, the Spartacus boot camp, funny moments behind the scenes and more.
Metal Arcade: You started out your acting career on an Australian Disney series, right?
Christian Antidormi: Yeah! Yeah, it was cool you know, that was my first, sort of consistent role that I played, that was a lot of fun. Disney take care of you, you know, they’re a great company. And the show was just sort of lighthearted and targeted at kids- so it was definitely, I think, the most contrasting show that I could have done, compared to Spartacus [laughs]. But it was a fantastic way to kick start my career and really gave me some grounded steps and lessons.
Metal Arcade: I was just about to say what a crazy transition that must have been, going from a kids show to Spartacus, which may be the most violent and sex-filled show on TV. How did you prepare yourself mentally?
Christian Antidormi: Well it was sort of a couple of years since Disney had ended, so I was up for a challenge… I’d been told of the arc that Tiberius was going to have to portray, which required a lot of research and finesse to fit into the series as a whole. But it was a great transition, and it was a very big challenge for me, which was awesome.
Metal Arcade: You took part in the Spartacus boot camp. As a fitness enthusiast myself, I’m curious to know what they put you guys through.
Christian Antidormi: Death. They put us through death [laughs]. No, it was fantastic, it was a month of intense training, and a lot of that training, to a pretty high degree was maintained throughout the entire season, as well. It was a month of vigorous cardio, weights, and we got to learn a lot of different techniques; how to use a sword, knives, staffs, all these fantastic combat techniques. We’d be doing military workouts, group sessions and things like that, boxing… it was such a great experience. I think for all the new guys, as well as the returning cast as well, it was just such a great bonding experience. I think we really needed that to become comfortable with each other, and I think it helped. Come the first episode, we were prepared, we knew each other well. We’d really slugged it out before the season even began which was great.
Metal Arcade: I’m guessing you had to completely change your nutrition, taking in a lot of protein shakes and things like that, right?
Christian Antidormi: [Laughs] Yeah! Yeah, that was definitely a big factor for it, our nutrition. And that was sort of maintained throughout the whole season, production was great about providing us with the food we needed to achieve our goals for the screen. And you know, we’ve all sort of taken that knowledge about nutrition and stuff into our personal lives now, which is great! It’s such an interesting thing to know, about the human body and stuff.
Metal Arcade: Yeah, I was watching an interview with Liam McIntyre (Spartacus) recently, and he talked about how he took what he learned from his trainer and now incorporated into his everyday life, which is cool.
Christian Antidormi: Yeah, definitely.
Metal Arcade: You must have been the youngest guy in the camp, right?
Christian Antidormi: Absolutely! Probably by quite a few years, without making the rest of them sound too old [laughs].
Metal Arcade: How far ahead of time did you know that you would be tasked with killing off Crixus?
Christian Antidormi: The story plot was present at the start of the season, but the specifics hadn’t really been brought to my attention, until a few episodes in. Which was good, because you didn’t want to confuse yourself with all the epic storylines that would be coming in the future, you wanted to sort of just know what’s ahead without getting too nervous about those big moments. I think, with Crixus, it was such a big burden to carry, and I really didn’t think I was worthy to do it at the start. And I think with Tiberius, that was ultimately the one thing that he needed to do to prove to everyone that he was a force to be reckoned with. That was a big moment, and filming it was just fantastic, it was such an intense atmosphere on set. We were all just trying to give Crixus a bit of justice, you know, he’s one of the longest running cast members in the series, and it was great.
Metal Arcade: Yeah! I was about to say it must have been tough being burdened with that, since Crixus is such a fan favorite and one of the longest running characters on the show. I’m sure the fans have been pretty pissed that Tiberius was the one to take him out.
Christian Antidormi: Yeah! Well, you know it was sort of a group effort, it was led by Crassus, then fought by Caesar and Tiberius- it wasn’t so much about Tiberius, although he did get the symbolic, ultimate kill. But overall, it was a group effort, and just showed the force of the Roman army.
Metal Arcade: Speaking of that scene, Tiberius actually spared Julius Caesar from being killed by Crixus, despite their hatred for each other. Can you talk about that? Why didn’t he just let Caesar die and end the power struggle?
Christian Antidormi: Yeah, that’s interesting! They obviously despise each other, but at the end of the day they have to ultimately think above their own thoughts and selfish minds and realize that above all, all they want is the glory and honor brought on them by Rome, in ending the slave rebellion. Having Caesar at his side- he is a powerful force- is going to benefit Tiberius, it’s going to benefit Rome. It just didn’t seem appropriate for him to die then, Tiberius, you know he wants to keep that power struggle going because, as difficult as it is, it’s a bit of fun.
Metal Arcade: It was crazy how all season long Caesar had been built up as the ultimate badass, and then out of nowhere Tiberius raped him to assert his dominance. What was it like filming that scene?
Christian Antidormi: It definitely was pretty crazy. We both felt pretty disembodied during those scenes, like we just had to go to a completely different place. Caesar had such a great storyline for the first seven episodes, and the power struggle between him and Tiberius just got so intense. It wasn’t so much to try and change Caesar’s storyline, it was more for Tiberius to just say, listen, we’re gonna put this straight once and for all- I am above, you, I have more power than you. And that’s basically what they used to do in those days, it was a sign of dominance, a sign of power, and a sign of fear for the other person, just trying to put him in his place.
Metal Arcade: It was uncomfortable to watch, so I can only imagine filming it.
Christian Antidormi: Haha, yeah!
Metal Arcade: It’s been frustrating seeing Tiberius get away with all his cowardly acts. Can fans look forward to him finally getting what’s coming to him?
Christian Antidormi: [Laughs] Oh yeah! Definitely. I’ve read a couple of comments, I tell you what- if the story had been written by the fans, Tiberius would have one of the most shocking endings. [laughs]
Metal Arcade: Who was your favorite person to work with on the show? Who did you find that you had the best chemistry with as an actor?
Christian Antidormi: Oh, that’s a tough one! I’d have to say probably Simon or Todd, as in Crassus or Caesar. Having that male camaraderie was great, and me and Todd were like brothers on the set. And Simon was like a father figure to me, like, literally as well. But the three of us, we did share that special bond, both on and off screen. They’re both exquisite actors, and they were great to work with.
Metal Arcade: One of the things I wondered about is once the boot camp is over, do they try to separate the rebels and Romans so you can stay in character? Or did you all kind of hang out behind the scenes?
Christian Antidormi: Yeah it was interesting- we’d all be filming these scenes with the rebels and Romans fighting each other, or talking about slaughtering each other, then we’d leave the set, have a shower, and then we’d all meet at a cafe and have dinner together. Then the next day, we’d try and figure out how to kill them again until we have dinner again [laughs]. It was great, we all got along very well.
Metal Arcade: That’s awesome. Is Tiberius actually in the history books? Or was he created just to add drama to the series?
Christian Antidormi: Well it’s interesting, historically, Crassus’ son goes by the name of Publius, who is actually in the show as Tiberius’ younger brother in the first two episodes of this season. So they wanted to give some justice to history, but wanted to bring out the creativity of Steven and all the other writers. So they introduced Tiberius, who did have some sort of historical background resembling Publius himself, but he was definitely changed to give him his own style and make him a solid addition to the storyline. It just allowed the writers to really unleash their creativity on the page, and you know, I was more than happy for them to do that! [laughs]
Metal Arcade: Did you have to do any historical research before taking on the role?
Christian Antidormi: You know what? I’ve always had a fascination in history, from the ancient era up until medieval times. Myself and a lot of the other guys took it upon ourselves to do a lot of research anyway. A lot of stuff was given to us as well though. When you’re playing something that’s so far out of the current era, you really want to know as much about that world as you can, so you can just get all the little details right, so it feels real for the audience. Mind you, Spartacus of course has its trademark features like swearing in 21st century language [laughs] which is fantastic, but the research was interesting, I think it helped us.
Metal Arcade: Do you feel that Tiberius is still looking to be accepted in his father’s eyes, or is he now more concerned with seeking vengeance upon him after the episode “Decimation”?
Christian Antidormi: Yeah, I think he’s a bit above that now. He realizes that his father does trust him again, but Tiberius will never forget what he made him do to Sabinus, and the other soldiers as well. But I think that Tiberius is always going to have that need to prove himself in his father’s eyes, but he now feels that his father does trust him and believe in him. Now he feels like the next step is to personally try and take out Spartacus, and reap the glory of Rome.
Metal Arcade: Do you think that Sabinus maybe liked Tiberius as more than just a friend? A lot of people have speculated about this.
Christian Antidormi: To put it simply, no. It was a strong brotherly relationship, they were willing to do anything for each other. Props to the writers for purposefully inserting little moments of curiosity. It sparked some interest and speculation in regards to, ‘Ooh, are they? Aren’t they?’ It was sort of interesting, and the way it was written, I guess we were destined to never truly find out. But at the end of the day, they were brothers who were willing to die for each other, and you know that was it.
Metal Arcade: Do you think that Tiberius has feelings for Kore, or is he just torturing her to get back at his dad?
Christian Antidormi: Yeah… he definitely doesn’t have feelings for her. It’s more just pure revenge. Crassus took something very close to Tiberius, and so the only way he knows to get back at him is to try and destroy something close to Crassus, which is Kore. He would never do anything to his true mother, and even though both his mother and Kore were loving and compassionate towards him, Kore wasn’t his true blood. Even though she helped him a great deal, she was unlucky enough to be the one that Tiberius said, ‘I’m gonna channel my revenge through her.’
Metal Arcade: Is Tiberius a villain in your eyes? Or is he just a victim of circumstance? Is he misunderstood?
Christian Antidormi: Yeah, that’s interesting dude, I think he is pretty misunderstood. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and he tries to look good in the eyes of his father, but the way he goes about it sometimes is shocking, you know, he’s such an idiot! [laughs] It was interesting, in this last season, it was hard to really distinguish who the villain is. It was brought to the forefront in episode 4, “Decimation”. In that episode Crassus is performing decimation and slaughtering his own soldiers, and at the same time Spartacus and his men are murdering all the people in Sinuesa. And if each of them are willing to go that far, then who really is the bad guy in that situation?
Metal Arcade: Do you think Tiberius would have turned out differently if his father didn’t push him so hard?
Christian Antidormi: Oh, yeah! Definitely. Decimation, as tough as it was, I think it was a life changing experience for Tiberius. At the end of the day, Crassus just did not think that Tiberius was a man yet. After being sent to the slums and doing what he did to Sabinus, a man emerged out of that. Without all that happening, I don’t even know if he would be in the legion at the moment, he might be just sitting in the villa twiddling his fingers!
Metal Arcade: What has been your favorite scene during your time on Spartacus?
Christian Antidormi: Ooh, there’s a couple! Obviously the killing of Crixus was such a pivotal moment. The energy on set was fantastic. Just with all the epic fight sequences before it, and T.J. Scott directing. He would blast The Dark Knight Rises’ theme song around the entire studio while we were filming and it would just be absolutely mesmerizing to do. And I think just some of the random, quiet dialogue scenes between myself and Caesar, or myself and Crassus, just working off each other, sometimes you just get these moments that just click. Everything just feels intertwined and connected, and you can’t really identify them, but you know there are some moments there that are just really great.
Metal Arcade: Were there any funny behind the scenes moments while you were filming?
Christian Antidormi: Oh! Tell you what, come DVD time, if they have a bloopers reel, it is going to be one of the funniest blooper reels that I’ve ever seen. I don’t know about the rebels because we didn’t get to work with them that much. But in the Roman camp, constantly, we’d be focused so hard that there’d be moments when you inevitably just lose it. And with myself, and a couple of the others, once you lose it, it just seems like a mission to get back on track, and get focused again! [laughs] I’m laughing about it now, thinking about it, but yeah you’re gonna see some funny moments.
Metal Arcade: Have you had any crazy fan experiences, like at Comic Con or anything?
Christian Antidormi: I’ve had a couple at the gym, which is funny enough. In Sydney, at the gym, which is surprising, since it hasn’t aired in Australia yet. These guys will just come up to me and sort of whisper in my ear, and ask how I could rape Caesar and Kore, and just stare at me while I’m lifting my weight, and I just crack up laughing [laughs]. You know it’s hilarious!
Metal Arcade: What do you plan on doing next, after your time is up on Spartacus?
Christian Antidormi: We’ve got a couple projects in the works, we’re sort of in the thick of pilot season. I’m back in Sydney, but technology allows me to just pass over auditions here and there. We’re just gonna weigh the options, but I’m up for a challenge. With Spartacus at my back, I think it’s really cool, and it’s definitely not something that I’m gonna forget.
Metal Arcade: I’ve heard rumors of a spin-off series with Caesar possibly being in development, can you talk about that at all?
Christian Antidormi: I could talk about it, but I have no idea about it at all, to be honest with you. The idea of a spin-off with Caesar started about almost 12 months ago probably. If it was to come to paper, oh, it’d be fantastic! That would be such an awesome series to watch.
Metal Arcade: Finally, without spoiling anything, do you think there’s any chance of Spartacus surviving? Historically, his body was never found.
Christian Antidormi: You know what, while trying to do some justice to the man Spartacus himself, back 2000 years ago, I think his body never being found was the best thing that could have happened. Now it just opens up the writers to explore their own ending, and make it as epic as possible. There’s a chance for anything to happen really, and that’s what makes it so interesting! You’re gonna have to wait and see, it’s only a week away which is great.
Metal Arcade: Yeah, I can’t wait to see what happens, it’s definitely exciting.
Christian Antidormi: Yeah, same, I haven’t seen it yet, so I’ll be watching it with you guys! [laughs]
Metal Arcade: Well it was great talking with you, thanks for taking the time to do this interview!
Christian Antidormi: Yeah, thanks man, I really appreciate it!