Andy Whitfield, a British actor who played the title character on Starz’s “Spartacus,” died Sunday after battling cancer. He was 39.
“On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior ... lost his 18 month battle with lymphoma cancer,” the actor’s wife, Vashti, 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,” the statement said.
Whitfield had only a few acting credits to his name before he was cast as the lead character in Starz’s “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” which turned out to be a hit for the cable network. Post TV critic Hank Stuever praised Whitfield’s “sturdy, steely performance” in the show.
The actor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May 2010 and was treated in New Zealand. In July of that year at Comic-Con, the actor told Zap2It he was feeling “better than ever” and hoped to return for the show’s second season. But a recurrence of the cancer forced him to leave permanently in September.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague,” 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.”
“Spartacus” creator Steven DeKnight said in a tweet, “No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother.”