“Spartacus: Blood and Sand” star Andy Whitfield is leaving show to battle a recurrence of cancer
This is upsetting news: Starz network says Spartacus: Blood and Sand star Andy Whitfield is leaving the show to battle a recurrence of cancer.
“It’s with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus and all the wonderful people involved,” the actor said in a statement. “It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey.”
Production of the Spartacus series’ second season was postponed this spring when Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But after treatment, he was scheduled to resume the title role in the series.
Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht said in a statement: “Our hearts and prayers are with Andy and his family during this difficult time. Andy is not only an incredible actor whose portrayal of Spartacus made an indelible impression on Starz audiences, he is also an amazing human being whose courage, strength and grace in the face of adversity have inspired all of us.”
The network had already announced that co-stars Lucy Lawless and John Hannah would take center stage for a six-episode prequel leading up to Spartacus’ arrival. It will air beginning in January 2010.
I got to chat with Andy at the Television Critics Association press tour last January and he told me he had to get into incredible shape for the action adventure series on which he plays the title role.
“I’m tired physically, obviously,” he said then, unaware of his illness then. “You get to a certain point and you get injuries and you have to carry on around those injuries. But also emotionally it was very draining as the series progresses you’ll really what happens with these characters.”