Spartacus Star Andy Whitfield Dies
Whitfield lost his battle with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma on Sunday in Sydney, Australia. The Associated Press reports that his wife, Vashti, issued a statement which reads, "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 was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma after the first season of Spartacus, initially causing a delay in production on Season 2 – during which the prequel, Gods of the Arena, was filmed. During this time, Whitfield had responded well to treatment and his cancer had gone into remission and he was expected to return for the second season, Spartacus: Vengeance, and even promoted the series at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010.
Unfortunately, shortly after Comic-Con came the word that his cancer had returned, and he was forced to drop out of the series completely. He was replaced in Spartacus: Vengeance – which is debuting in 2012 -- by Liam McIntyre.
Speaking to the press about taking on the role of Spartacus this summer, McIntyre had tremendous praise for Whitfield, noting, "He's gotten in contact with me. I mean, just think, this guy had a dream gig and then he's met with this tragic circumstance and he still has the strength of character to call me and wish me good luck and give me tips on how to get through the grueling schedule."
Starz, the network behind Spartacus, released the following statement:
"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/executive producer Steven DeKnight wrote on Twitter, "No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother."