Actor Andy Whitfield, star of the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, it was confirmed today.
The actor, who was born in Amlwch, Wales, but moved to Sydney in 1999, lost his 18-month battle with the disease on a ‘sunny Sydney morning in the arms of his loving wife (Vashti),’ she said in a statement.
Tragically young: Spartacus actor Andy Whitfield has died from cancer at the age of 39. He passed away in Sydney in the arms of his wife, it was announced today
However, the cancer returned in September of that year and he was advised to
resume ‘aggressive treatment’.
Whitfield’s wife Vashti paid an emotional tribute to her husband, 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
‘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 found fame in the TV remake of Spartacus and appeared in all 13 episodes of the first season. He was preparing to make the second when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Whitfield was a virtual unknown when
he was cast as the legendary Thracian slave in Spartacus, a role made
famous by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film.
The series proved a break-out hit for the Starz network and made waves with its graphic violence and sexuality.
Whitfield appeared in all 13 episodes of the first season that aired in 2010, and was preparing to shoot the
second when he was diagnosed with cancer.
While waiting for Whitfield’s treatment and expected recovery, the network produced a six-part
prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, that aired earlier this year with
only a brief voice-over from the actor.
Spartacus stars: Liam McIntyre and Lucy Lawless, pictured here in July, both spoke highly of Whitfield
But in January, after Whitfield’s condition grew worse, the network announced that another Australian
actor, Liam McIntyre, would take over the role.
McIntyre said at the time: ‘Andy’s such a wonderful actor. I don’t want to follow that guy, and everybody hurts that he’s
had to give up the role, myself included.’
At the same time, Whitfield released his own statement acknowledging the decision: ‘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,’ he said.
‘It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey.’
Whitfield’s previous credits included appearances on the Australian TV shows Packed to the Rafters and McLeod’s Daughters.
Spartacus director Steve DeKnight took to Twitter to express his pain. ‘No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother,’ he wrote.
The gladiator: Whitfield was a virtual unknown when he was cast as the legendary Thracian slave in Spartacus
The actor’s Spartacus co-star, Lucy Lawless, also paid tribute to him on her website, saying he was a ‘gentle man who never had a bad world about anyone’.
Lawless went on to say that Whitfield was a brilliant actor and a gifted photographer and engineer.
‘Obviously, Andy Whitfield left an indelible mark on all of us in the
Spartacus family,’ she said.
Co-star: Lucy Lawless starred alongside Whitfield in Spartacus and paid tribute saying he was a ‘gentle man’
‘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.’
Another person who spoke highly of the actor was Starz president and
CEO Chris Albrecht who said: ‘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.’
Whitfield is survived by his wife Vashti and his two children.
A husband and a father: Whtifield is survived by his wife, Vashti, and two children