If actress Marisa Ramirez, 33, has learned anything about herself while shooting her new miniseries “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” a prequel to last year’s Starz original show “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” it’s that she’s open to any new challenges that come her way.
In “Gods of the Arena,” Ramirez, who is of Mexican, Irish and American Indian descent, plays Melitta, a “body slave” at the beck and call of her female master Lucretia (Lucy Lawless).
During an interview with me, Ramirez, who has been featured in roles on daytime soap operas over the last decade including “General Hospital,” “Miracles,” and “The Young and the Restless,” talked about how her view on nudity has changed since she booked the new miniseries and why she thinks some people consider the show a guilty pleasure.
New episodes and reruns of “Gods of the Arena” air throughout the week on the Starz channels and On Demand. For a complete schedule and to watch episodes of the show online visit www.starz.com.
How did you get involved in a miniseries like “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena?”
I got involved in the audition process at the very end. They had been doing auditions for quite a while and asked me if I would like to go to New Zealand and try out. When I found out I booked it, I thought I would have some time before I had to go back to New Zealand, but a week later I was packing my bags.
What attracted you to the show in the first place?
It’s completely different than anything on TV right now. It takes you to places you’d never think a TV show will go. They’re showing it all, it’s crazy. I loved the fact that I was going to be auditioning for a period piece. My character Melitta is a slave but she also has a husband. In this crazy time period she has someone to love, which makes her so much stronger and passionate.
Along with acting, you’ve done quite a bit of modeling in your career. Is it safe to say your background in modeling made some of the more graphic sex scenes in “Gods of the Arena” easier to shoot?
I’ve never been comfortable with my body. Ten years ago I realized I needed to start working out and now I’m addicted to it, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100 percent comfortable. When I got into acting I always said I would never do nudity. I was so afraid people would judge me. But when they said this is what [“Spartacus”] was about I immediately knew it would be a challenge but also knew it was part of the industry. I felt taken care of while I was doing all my nude scenes. I knew no one was going to put me in a position where I didn’t look good. It’s not something I think I can ever be totally free and open about, but I can walk away very proud of what I did and know it was nothing gratuitous. It was art. Sure, my dad is going to close his eyes during those scenes, but it’s all part of the business.
Some critics are referring to this show as a “guilty pleasure.” I know you’ve done a few soap operas in the past, which could also fall under that category. What do you think about that term?
I think everyone has their own guilty pleasure. For some people it’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” or something. I think people have their preconceived notions of what “Spartacus” is and they don’t want to see any blood or boobs. Some people would be embarrassed to say, “I love to see some boobs!” But there is everything for everyone, which makes it fun to watch. It’s what TV is becoming.
Well, despite all the elaborate set pieces and costumes on the show, I have to admit I noticed the same attention to detail was not given to your character’s wardrobe.
(Laughs) Yeah, I didn’t get any cool costumes. Mine was barely there. It was like a piece of fabric that’s ripped and sliced and cut and hanging on by a piece of leather. When I was in New Zealand it rained everyday, so I was cold for three months. I wanted to steal one of the costumes, but I’m a good girl so I couldn’t do it.