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Star Liam McIntyre and the rest of the cast may play fearless characters, but meeting with members of the military was a truly humbling experience. ''What felt really special to me was the warrior-to-warrior aspect of it,'' says Lam, ''and being able to introduce the warriors from Spartacus to the true warriors.''
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''We were walking around the base, and a bunch of guys stopped us to take pictures,'' Lam recalls of this moment between three servicemen and cast members Manu Bennett, Viva Bianca, McIntyre, and Ellen Hollman. ''It was great to see the number of fans that we had out there, mainly because they don't have access to Starz or satellite or cable. Most of the guys watched it either by having the DVDs sent to them or buying the DVDs between deployments and bringing them back.''
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Laughs were plentiful during the trip. ''This kind serviceman actually ended up proposing to Ellen,'' says Lam. ''It's probably not the first time it's happened to her.''
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''This was on a trip to visit the Army's Cavalry division, which fly the helicopters,'' recalls Lam. ''We had a huge reception there — guys would bring out the DVDs and the books and everything. But probably the highlight of that moment was, after we got to take pictures with both the Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, the division actually took us up in a Black Hawk helicopter, to fly us around and show us what they do in action.''
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The requests for autographs grew so frequent and numerous that the cast members often resorted to makeshift methods. ''We didn't have a table, we had nothing,'' says Lam. ''The serviceman wanted something signed by Viva. Liam, being the humble man he is, decided to be the table for her.''
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A couple of Army Rangers showed off their softer sides when they asked for photos with Hollman and Bianca. ''They definitely blushed,'' says Lam. ''You could tell that they had no macho demeanor. They were a little bit shy, and they definitely enjoyed it.''
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Life on base includes downtime, so the troops stay busy with Ping-Pong, videogames, and sports. Bennett donned a soccer jersey and goofed off with one of the teams. How else do the soldiers fill their leisure time? ''Luckily for us,'' says Lam, ''one of [their] activities is watching Spartacus.''
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''That's Liam and Viva sharing a moment in between bases,'' explains Lam. ''One of the modes of transportation we had was traveling on this bus, but the thing that you probably didn't notice is the headline in the background on the paper: 'Stun Grenades Break Up Protest.'''
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The soldiers at the Air Force base were eager to show the cast around and make them feel at home. ''They gave us [including Hollman and Bianca] a tour of that plane, which is a Boeing C-17. I believe it's the second-largest cargo plane in the Air Force's fleet,'' says Lam. ''To be able to hang out in the cockpit and see the sleeping quarters, it was definitely super interesting, and an experience those guys will all remember.''
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''The thing I love about this picture is the expression on the soldier's face,'' Lam says. ''He's just so pleased. I think this is an experience that none of them thought they would have, a chance to meet someone they watch on television. And also because Crixus, the character [Manu] plays on the show, is a fearless warrior, so a lot of the men and women identify with that and probably look to that as inspiration.''
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Before the soldiers return home from their tours, they're required to make a pit stop. ''They're asked to hang out for anywhere between two to eight hours in this little area they've nicknamed Camp Freedom,'' explains Lam. ''So when Liam and Manu found a sign, of course they decided to have a little fun with their own picture.''
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At one of the bases, the soldiers surprised Hollman and other cast members with a ride in one of their Black Hawk helicopters. ''The whole time, for security reasons, they didn't really tell us where we were going, or what we were doing, or what we were seeing. This was on the last day and they sprung it on us while we were on the bus there. All of us were just completely giddy. We knew it'd be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us,'' says Lam.
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''That's a photo of Chuck Norris. There's probably nothing else that needs to be said about that. It's Chuck Norris. End of debate.'''
Spartacus returns to Starz for its fourth and final installment on Jan. 25.