Andy Whitfield, the actor who played the main character in the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died at the age of 39.
Whitfield died yesterday in Sydney, Australia after an 18-month battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“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,” his wife Vashti Whitfield said in a statement. “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.”
Andy Whitfield was practically unknown before he was cast as the legendary slave in Spartacus, a role made popular by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick movie.
Whitfield appeared in all 13 episodes of the first season, which aired last year, and was getting ready to film the second season when he was diagnosed with cancer.
While Whitfield was being treated, Starz produced a six-part prequel, “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena“, that aired on the cable network earlier this year, with just a short voiceover appearance from the actor.
In January, though, Whitfield took a turn for the worst, and the network announced that actor Liam McIntyre would assume the role.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield,” Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht said in a 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.”
Whitfield previously appeared in Australian TV shows Packed to the Rafters and McLeod’s Daughters.