I just found out the most devastatingly sad news. Andy Whitfield, at only 39 years old, has passed away from cancer. For those who have never heard of him, Andy was a virtually unknown actor with a small cult following (including myself) after playing the lead role in the indie flick Gabriel. It wasn't until the STARZ original series Spartacus that people started to take notice. Andy had the full package-- not only did he have the physical attributes to play such a vigorous character, but the man could truly ACT.
With the success of season 1 under wraps and fans around the world rooting for the underdog (in the show and in real life), Andy and the other actors of Spartacus began to prepare for season 2. During a routine checkup, Andy was diagnosed with non-hodgkin lymphoma. Production of show was put on hold while the actor focused on getting better. The chances looked good since they caught it in time. While Andy began treatment, the creators of Spartacus decided to move forward with a prequel.
After a few months of treatment, Andy was given a clean bill of health and began training to get back in shape for the grueling shooting schedule. No one expected the cancer to come back and this time with a vengeance. Knowing there was only one thing to do, Andy decided to pull out of Spartacus altogether, to focus his full attention on his family and his health. Holding no bitterness, he gave the show creators his blessing to recast for the lead role rather than canceling it altogether.
And that is the last bit of information we heard about Andy Whitfield until today. Other then 1 photo supposedly snapped of the actor with his family looking pale and gaunt a few months back, everyone in the Hollywood world seemed to respect his privacy as he battled for his life. In the meantime, after months of trying to find a replacement, the title role of Spartacus was finally given to Liam McIntyre which I wrote about several posts back.
I thought my next post about Spartacus would be my opinion on whether I felt Liam McIntyre's performance lived up to Andy Whitfield's brilliant portrayal. Never in a million years did I think I would be sitting here, fighting back tears of shock with the news of Andy's lost battle with cancer. I am saddened that his life was cut so short, that he leaves behind a beloved wife and two little children. I mourn his loss because we only got to see a small fraction of his acting abilities, talent that I knew was just under the surface, ready to be unleashed with his rapidly growing fame.
In his memory, I will put aside my reservations about the newly revamped season 2 of Spartacus and try to watch it with an open heart. Afterall, he gave his blessing for the production to move on. My heart goes out to his family and friends. And like those before him such as Heath Ledger and Brandon Lee, Hollwood has missed out on a truly talented actor.
Rest In Peace, Andy.