Andy Whitfield, who helped make Starz ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand‘ a huge hit, died yesterday after a long battle with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma at the age of 39.
I was lucky enough to interview Andy Whitfield a few times, and he was always the most gracious guy I ever met. He never seemed to take his sudden stardom from ‘Spartacus’ for granted, and I think many of us were very worried when he bowed out of the second season of the hit show due to his cancer returning eighteen months ago. I felt saddened yesterday morning when I got the call that he had died, and just couldn’t get myself to write about it until now. It’s rare that someone in showbiz who dies makes me feel this sad, but there was something very unique about this guy. He struggled with his career for a long long time, and it wasn’t until a show where he wore basically nothing that his star took off briefly. Where most actors would have turned in a campy performance in this type role, Whitfield gave it his all and turned Starz into quite a little powerhouse cable network.
His wife, Vashti Whitfield, issued this statement:
“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. 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.”
A statement from Starz president Chris Albrecht:
“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.”
Even though ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’ has movie on casting another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre, in his role, many will always remember Whitfield who created this unforgettable role. I will always remember Andy’s kindness and willingness to talk to us wherever we were. He was a true star on the rise that was cut too short.
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