Spartacus: Blood and Sand star Andy Whitfield died Sunday in Sydney, Australia after losing the battle against a recurrence ofÂ non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The 39-year-old Welsh actor shot to sudden fame after being cast as the lead in the original Starz series. He is survived by his wife, Vashti, and two children.
Andy Whitfield moved to Sydney, Australia in 1999, where he attended the Screenwise Film & TV School for Actors. He appeared in several Australian TV series and landed his first large role in the Australian film Gabriel. Whitfield’s big break came when the relatively unknown actor was cast for the lead role in the Starz original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
Whitfield was compelled to take what he hoped was a temporary leave from the Starz series after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lympoma. While waiting for Whitfield to recover from treatment, the network filmed a six-part prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which featured Whitfield in only a brief, uncredited voiceover.
Sadly, Andy Whitfield would never return to the role that made him a star. Although he was briefly declared cancer-free after treatment, the disease flared up once again only two months later. Whitfield, who had been preparing to film a second season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, announced in September 2010 that he would not be returning to the series.
Whitfield’s wife Vashti said in a press statement that her “beautiful young warrier” died on a “sunny Sydney morning” in the “arms of his loving wife.”
The actor’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand co-stars and collegues are striken by Whitfield’s passing at such a young age. We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield,” Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht said in a press statement. “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.”
In a statement on her fan site, Spartacus actress (and former Xena star) Lucy Lawless is quoted as saying thatÂ “Obviously, Andy Whitfield left an indelible mark on all of us in the ‘Spartacus’ family.”
“He was a gentle man who never said a bad word about anyone, a gifted photographer, engineer (no really!) and a brilliant actor,” the statement said. “Andy’s incandescent film presence made men want to be him and women want to marry him. Andy’s two babies will always know that their Daddy cherished them and their mother, Vashti, above all things. How lucky we were to have him grace all our lives. Godspeed, Andy!”
Spartacus creator Steven DeKnight shared his sadness via his Twitter feed: “No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother.”