It’s always tough to hear about the passing of an actor from a beloved TV series or movie, but when that person is as young as Andy Whitfield, it makes things all the more tragic.
The 39-year old actor best known for playing Spartacus in the hit Starz series SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer 18 months ago which delayed the start of Season 2 of the series. He went through treatment, but it went into remission and returned.
Ultimately, he lost this battle and passed away on Sunday in his home of Sydney, Australia leaving behind his wife and two children.
In a statement, his wife Vashti said, “On a beautiful sunny Sydney morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful 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.”
Starz released a statement today as well saying, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield,” says Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht. “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.”
In one of Whitfield’s final press interviews, he spoke with ASSIGNMENT X writer Jason Swearingen during roundtable interviews for SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA at Comic-Con 2010. The actor was in remission and spoke candidly about his recovery process. Whitfield said he felt better than he had ever felt before, “especially when you go through something as profound and life changing as that.”
What he learned from the experience was “being present.”
“[It’s] just really being in the right now,” Whitfield explained. “I guess I had based my emotions off of anxiety. And so now, everything is easy. I spent a lot of times fearing things, but when there is something to actually fear, it puts everything into perspective.”
At the very end of the interview, Whitfield, ever the gentlemen concluded the interview very politely by saying “thanks guys. Have a good day.”
It’s rare to be touched this much by an actor who played a hero – who really proved to be a hero and an all around good guy in real life. It’s unfortunate cancer has taken such a promising actor at a young age. Fans of SPARTACUS have the first season to remember him by and he will be missed.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
(additional reporting by Jason Swearingen)