Starz, Lucy Lawless on Andy Whitfield's death: He was 'a champion'

Starz released a statement Sunday reacting to the tragic news that former Spartacus star Andy Whitfield had succumbed to cancer.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield,” said 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.”

Whitfield’s Spartacus co-star Lucy Lawless also paid tribute to him in a statement to EW: “Obviously, Andy Whitfield left an indelible mark on all of us in the Spartacus family. He was a gentle man who never said a bad word about anyone, a gifted photographer, engineer (no really!) and a brilliant actor. Andy’s incandescent film presence made men want to be him and women want to marry him. Andy’s  two babies will always know that their Daddy cherished them and their mother, Vashti, above all things. How lucky we were to have him grace all our lives. Godspeed, Andy!”

“No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother,” said Spartacus creator Steven DeKnight on Twitter.

The 39-year-old actor died of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Sydney, Australia. The Wales native was diagnosed 18 months ago while preparing for the second season of Spartacus. Though he was an relative unknown when the show started, Whitfield’s performance was so strong and iconic that production on season two was halted for about a year in an attempt to give Whitfield time to recover from the disease. During that time, producers shot a prequel series titled Gods of the Arena without the actor. Briefly it seemed Whitfield would make it — he was cleared to start work on season two and made a triumphant return appearance at Comic-Con. But Whitfield soon relapsed. Faced with the decision of either cancelling the series or recasting, Starz and producers opted to hire newcomer Liam McIntyre for the lead role, with Whitfield’s blessing.

Whitfield’s performance in the first season of Spartacus remains a testament to his talent. He was able to project such furious aggression and intense vulnerability, often at the same time. Though we’ll never get to see what other roles Whitfield might have taken, below is a YouTube viral hit that Whitfield shot after he was diagnosed that displays another side to the actor in a live action parody of the videogame Time Crisis:

Backstage at Comic-Con in 2010, Whitfield was preparing to greet Spartacus fans after spending months out of the limelight to recover. He was so nervous because he didn’t want fans to somehow be disappointed. Yet when he walked out, Whitfield didn’t have to say a word — the crowd just roared. Here’s that interview:

Comments (192 total) Add your comment
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  • Greg

    R.I.P Andy – you were a true talent and will be missed!

    • Frank

      Our hearts reach out to Andy’s wife and two children.

      He was perfect for his role, and while we are looking fowoard to the next season, no -one will replace him in his fans eyes

      Rest my friend

      • David

        I love him, he is the best there ever was, and DisabledMatch.net was amazing

    • Kerry

      He was amazing actor and will be missed. The minute I saw him in spartacus was he minute I fell in love with his character. I don’ t think anyone will ever be able to take over his role. He was truly amazing. My heart goes out to his beautiful family.

  • RUkiddingme

    Totally INAPPROPRIATELY violent video.
    Bad choice to honor him.

    • Kane

      Obviously, it didn’t offend Andy Whitfield to be involved in that video or Spartacus for that matter. The guy was obviously having some fun.

    • Joseph

      Actually, its overtly fake violence, which has an obvious
      “cartoon-ish” or comic-book style…or more to the point…like in a video game. Its a parody (and succeeds as such), and is intended to be taken tongue-in-cheek. I think what they are trying to illustrate by including this, is that he had a sense of humor, something which the serious and dark “Spartacus” series didn’t really give him an opportunity to show. You may find the included interview from Comic-Con a more fitting memorial.
      I confess I’m puzzled though – if this video bothered
      you with its corny, unreal violence, you surely could
      not have been a fan of “Spartacus”?!? That show made this video look like an episode of “Barney”.

      In any case, I was grieved to hear this news. I felt that he brought a powerful acting presence to the
      show’s portrayal of a tragic character who refused
      to be broken by overwhelming loss, betrayal, and
      misfortune. Indeed, his courage in facing his own
      circumstances seemed like a case of life imitating art… As a Leukemia survivor myself, I felt a great empathy for him, and hoped earnestly that he would triumph over this dreaded opponent, just as
      his character had so often defeated his own foes!

      • Carolyn

        Jospeh
        I agree with everything you said and I too believe he was an amazing actor that will be greatly missed. May you triumph over your foe as well.

    • yourlame

      I seem to think you are being sarcastic. Or else you are the biggest moron for that statement.

    • sayhi2yourmom4me

      lol Are you kidding me? Have you seen Sparticus? I don’t think a violent video is inapproperate!

    • LOLAtDaTrolls

      So what is deemed an APPROPRIATE violence? Is there such a thing? The series were about gladiators and if RUKiddingMe knew their history, they did not have a lot of warm and fuzzies back than. LOL And, if you don’t care for violence in videos, it’s as easy as to not watch it…that’s what TV ratings are for. No one forced you to watch it, unless you don’t know how to have a will of your own. RUKiddingMe your comment lacks real bearing and therefore should stick to watching the Sprout Channel and put a parental lock on yourself so you don’t have watch such series.

      As for the loss of Andy, you will be sorely missed. I would have loved to see you go on to doing even action movies. I will seeing your talent on screen. My heart goes out to your friends and more importanly your family.

    • Fraze jack

      be quite so what if it was bad he still fought show sympathy for his family

      • James

        vashti news or download andy wheifitld vashti wallpaper in this hi res wallpaper blog andy wheifitld vashti, now you are able to get andy wheifitld vashti news or download andy wheifitld ong>andy wheifitld vashti wallpaper in this hi res wallpaper blog WordPress

  • Flip

    Totally bummed by this news. Andy was a great Spartacus, very talented actor and very, very hot as well. I had hoped he’d recover and return to the series. I am thankful for the great first season we got, and my heart goes out to his family and friends. So long, Andy.

    • BB (California Bay Area)

      Amen to that. Very sad.

      • Vishnu

        de maniere conecrte ormond n’ pas tort, mais perso je pense pas que je vais regarde9, c’est juste nul de changer d’acteur principal au final selon moi;)au passage, d’apres le peud e photos vues, je le trouve encore moins esthetique que les autres gladiateurs

  • Kyle

    Actually if you know the history behind the videos, it shows what an amazingly cool guy he was and thus is a perfect honor to remember who he was.

  • Samantha

    RIP Andy!
    & They should have chosen to show a clip from Gabriel. He was awesome in that movie!

    • Andre

      Really sad! He was a really good actor. He made SPARTACUS what it is and he will be missed. My condolences to his family. R.I.P Andy. Cool guy.

  • heather

    Rest in peace. You were a true warrior.

  • MWeyer

    As a longtime Time Crisis fan, loved that video, man had a great future before him, sad to see it cut so short.

  • Jack Rock Jr

    I’ve been genuinely saddened by the news of a celebrity passing away only a few times in my life: Audrey Hepburn, John Candy, Phil Hartman, and now Andy Whitfield.

    There are people in this world whose kindness and generous heart is such that we can all sense it even though we may only get to see them through a screen. Andy was clearly such a man.

    Andy, our brother, we will endeavor to not be sad that a person like you has died, instead we will choose to remember to be grateful that you lived, and we got to bask in your light for a time. You will not be forgotten.

    • Lawrence

      When noteable people die, I typically react briefly. When I read the news of Andy Whitfield’s death today, it literally knocked the wind out of me. It was just yesterday that I watched the Spartacus Season 1 finale. I knew Mr Whitfield had cancer and was replaced by another actor,but I guess I didn’t think his illness was terminal. My heart goes out to his wife & two small children.

      • greg

        well said, sir…i agree 100%

  • Tina

    R.I.P Andy <3 you! You truly were a courageous warrior just like your character Sparatacus!

  • Centre Court

    I am so sad to hear this, he was way too young & such a loss of a great talent. I hope his friends & family find some comfort in the fact that so many fans are thinking of them & wishing them peace.

  • Stray

    Andy will always be Spartacus to me. Gabriel was an awesome role for him as well. Great Actor, courageous man, Farewell Mr. Whitfield you are missed already.

  • gurly girl

    R.I.P. ANDY… MY PRAYERS FOR HIS FAMILY.

  • Nancy

    God bless & hope you’re at peace Andy…you were a courageous & classy guy, and a wonderful actor as well. My thoughts & prayers go out to your family & friends. The toughness & quiet strength in your portrayal of Spartacus made me an instant fan. You will be greatly missed.

  • Sammi

    R.I.P Andy Whitfeild….I Loved u As Gabriel And I Loved U As Spartacus….U Will Be Deeply Missed And Everytime I Watch Gabriel Or Spartacus I Will Remeber U

  • b.mclane

    What a class act. In the face of great diversity the make of the man will show and Andy was super gracious to pass on his role for the good of the show. He must of been a super husband, father and friend. Dealt such a raw deal with 2 small children too and just about to make his mark in his profession. Super, super sad day.

    • @bmclane

      Damn.
      English, please….

      • Brendan Burt

        Dear Andy, RIP Brother, you have been an inspiration to me and many others, you are the reason i wanted to get fit. Thank you for your amazing portrayal of Spartacus. You will never be forgotton. Thank you for the memories.

      • @@bmclane

        What about that comment did you not understand???

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