by Wilfred Okiche
Australian actor, Andy Whitfield, the lead cast of season one of the hit TV series, ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’ is dead. He passed on yesterday Sunday September 11, 2011 at age 39, after an eighteen month battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. According to a statement released by his wife the beautiful young screen warrior died on a sunny Sydney morning in the arms of his loving wife, surrounded by love.
“Thank you to all his fans whose love and support helped carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous gentleman and father he was,” Mrs. Whitfield’s statement reads.
Born in Wales, the late Whitfield moved to Australia in 1999 where he appeared in some TV shows before he was cast in the title role of the smash series commissioned by Starz network. He had completed work on season one of the graphic series when he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of cancer of the lymph nodes.
Production on the series was halted for a year to allow for his recovery and in this time, a prequel titled ‘Gods of the Arena’ was commissioned without the actor, save for some voice over work. His relapse however prompted producers to cast another actor Liam McIntyre (with his blessings) in his stead for the upcoming second season.
Spartacus creator Steven Deknight tweeted “no words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed my brother.”
Whitfield’s co-star, Lucy Lawless, who plays Lucretia on the sex-drenched show said in a statement, “obviously Andy 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 and brilliant actor.”
He is survived by a loving wife Vashti Whitfield and two beautiful children.