His Spartacus alter-ego may have seemed invincible but the man who played him was not. Despite a valiant fight against cancer, actor Andy Whitfield has passed away at the age of 39.
His wife Vashti said in a statement, “On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18 month battle with lymphoma cancer. He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have help carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was.”
Whitfield got his big break when he was cast in the lead role in Starz Spartacus: Blood and Sand series. During a routine physical prior to shooting season two of the show, he was diagnosed with Stage one non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Production was put on hold temporarily while he was treated. He went into remission and was just days away from starting to film season two when the cancer came back. Whitfield remained positive about his prospects.
The fate of Spartacus was up in the air but, in light of Whitfield’s new diagnosis, Starz ultimately chose to recast the role and continue on without him.
In a statement, Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht said. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield… We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in Spartacus and came to know that the man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life. Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength and grace. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. He will live on in the hearts of his family, friends and fans.”
Spartacus creator Steven DeKnight tweeted, “No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother.”
In a statement, Whitfield co-star Lucy Lawless said, “He was a gentle man who never said a bad word about anyone, a gifted photographer, engineer (no really!) and a brilliant actor. Andy’s incandescent film presence made men want to be him and women want to marry him.”
What do you think? Will you miss Andy Whitfield? What will you remember most about his work?
Image courtesy Starz.