The AP reported Sunday September 11, 2011 that Andy Whitfield the original Spartacus has died today at age 39 of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in his home in Sydney, Australia. Fans, friends and family are devastated at the news and yet it doesn’t come as a surprise.
RIP Andy Whitfield 1974-2011. You will be missed
Andy Whitfield as Spartacus Photos
Whitfields wife Vashti released a statement saying:
“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.”
Whitfield was cast as Spartacus in the hit Starz cable show “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and made this role iconic. When he was getting ready to film season 2 the young actor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphona. His health would not let him continue with the rigorous physical nature of this show. Starz wasn’t sure if they were going to recast or cancel the show. Enter Steven DeKnight, the producers with a brilliant idea to film a prequel. This would allow them to wait and see if Whitfields’ health would return and he could continue as Spartacus. Not only did this give Andy a chance at continuing his treatment it also created a few new roles and let us get some background into our favorite characters on the show.
“It’s with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus and all the wonderful people involved. It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey. Thank you sincerely for the support so far,” said Whitfield 18 month ago when diagnosed.
Starz network president and CEO Chris Albrecht released a 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.”
“No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother” tweeted show runner Stephen DeKnight. @stevendeknight
You can see a heartwarming testament to his popularity when he was on the panel at Comic Con in 2010 in the YouTube below.
Starz and producers of Spartacus have hired newcomer Liam McIntyre for the lead role, with Andy Whitfield’s blessing.
“Since no one can really replace Andy, we realized that we should instead find an actor who can truly lead ‘Spartacus’ forward,” Starz’s CEO Chris Albrecht notes. “It was important to us to have Andy endorse the idea of recasting this part, which he did in the same heroic manner that he’s dealt with his whole ordeal. And that, coupled with our fortune in finding a young actor with the gladiator credentials and the acting ability of Liam, makes it easier for us to keep this hit franchise going.”
UPDATE June 3, 2013
Andy and Vashti Whitfield filmed their journey with this horrific disease. You can see some of the heartwarming and heartbreaking moments on the YouTube here and visit the movie website here: www.beherenowfilmcomingsoon.com
Vashti Whitfield started a blog “Maybe McQueen” to be able to share about this event in her life also penned a farewell after the Spartacus series finale in April of 2013 in her blog here.
Maybe McQueen is an homage to my beautiful husband Andy who died of cancer in September 2011, aged just 39. Losing my best friend, the father of my babies, the man I used to laugh with about something ridiculous on a daily basis, has completely broken my heart. At the same time it has fuelled me to get on with my life, to stop waiting until tomorrow when I feel stronger, happier, clearer or braver and to finally back myself in the way that Andy always backed me.
All photo rights owned by Starz