Liam McIntyre on 'Spartacus,' working out

Australian actor Liam McIntyre returns tonight as the lead in "Spartacus" on Starz. Edgar Negrete/Getty Images

When you're about 150 pounds, you're not the ideal candidate to play the lead in the warrior TV show "Spartacus" on Starz.

So you spend the next six weeks gaining about 40 pounds of muscle to try to look appropriate for the popular show. The third season, called "War of the Damned," begins Friday night.

"I was a rake when I first heard about the audition," said the Australian-born Liam McIntyre, who replaced Andy Whitfield to start the second season. "I thought it was ridiculous that they would even consider me. I'm not going to get this. For some reason, they kept training me. The stunt coordinator told the trainer, 'See when he'll break.' That's not nice. But it turned out to be the coolest job in my whole life."

The show premiered in January 2010 and focused on the early years of Spartacus before he started his carnage. Whitfield started with the role but bowed out because of illness. He eventually passed away from cancer. McIntyre, who had made mostly guest appearances in TV shows, took over as lead.

Playbook had a few minutes with McIntyre to talk about the show and working out.

So you're still about 190 pounds, two years later. Seems that you love working out.

"It changed my entire view of the world. I was never a gym junkie. But just a week ago, I was sitting down and playing a video game and I looked at the clock and said, 'I should be at the gym.' So I got up and went to the gym. At other times, I wouldn't have done that. Who am I these days? What am I doing? I love lifting weights now."

You've really caught the workout bug.

"They taught my brain to think fitness. It was all about heavy lifting. At the end of the shoot, we'd go to the gym for two hours almost every single day. It's the part of the way I live now. It's crazy."

How did you make this role your own with the passing of Whitfield?

"We're different people. I loved Andy's performance. He had heart and soul. He had a moral code. I'm just hoping to bring that same heart and soul and people can relate to. If I can capture that essence, then it's a job well done. I'm just carrying on the journey."

Speaking of journey, tell me about your engagement to Australian singer Erin Hasan. Did you really get engaged at Disney World?

"I love this girl so much. She had this dream of being a real-life Disney princess, so I was going to make it happen. We had dinner and everything was going so well. I was dressed up as Prince Charming. It was incredible. As it was going on, I was thinking that it might actually work. I was this evil genius, I guess. She looked stunning. She ended up singing with the band at the hotel after. I'll never forget that as long as I live."

It's been a pretty amazing few years, hasn't it?

"I can't believe how things turned out. I was the wrong shape for this role. I didn't have the experience. Then all this is actually happening. It's been an amazing ride."