Andy Whitfield, the star of cable’s graphic gladiator series, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a disease he had been battling for a couple of years, yesterday in Australia. He was 39.
Whitfield’s wife, Vashti, released a statement, saying her husband died in the presence of family. “He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have helped carry him to this point.” She described him as an “inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband.”
The Welsh actor was unknown to American audiences until he was cast in the Starz series as the Thracian slave with lethal skills in the gladiator pit. The loin cloth and blood splatter fest which also starred John Hannah and Lucy Lawless was remarkable both for its explicit glorified violence and sexual scenes. (See the promo for what would turn out to be Whitfield's final episode, video below).
Whitfield was first diagnosed with lymphoma as he prepared to shoot the second season of Spartacus. While he underwent treatment, a six-episode prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, was assembled without his participation.
Plans were made for Whitfield to return to the show after he was declared cancer free in May 2010. But months later, Starz announced that the show would be moving ahead without its mesmerizing star because his cancer had returned.
Australian actor Liam McIntyre has taken the title role for the show’s upcoming season: Spartacus: Vengeance.
Farewell brave warrior. We salute you.