“Spartacus: Blood and Sand” star Andy Whitfield, who had to bow out of the swords-and-sandals series after one season due to his battle with cancer, has passed away at the age of 39.
The actor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in March 2010, and succumbed to the illness on Sunday.
His wife, Vashti, issued a statement confirming his death. “On a beautiful sunny Sydney morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his love wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with lymphoma cancer. … He passed peacefully surrounded by love,” the statement said.
Whitfield, who was born in Wales and made his home in Australia, became a star portraying the titular soldier who leads an uprising against the Roman Empire in the Starz drama. The network delayed the second season of the series while Whitfield underwent cancer treatment; in the meantime, a six-part prequel, “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” was filmed. Though Whitfield was declared cancer-free a few months later, he suffered a relapse that forced him to leave the show, which was recast.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield,” Starz chief 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. 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.”