If you’ve read my Spartacus: Blood and Sand reviews here on Shout, you’ll know that I’m a massive fan of the series. I’m sad to report today that Andy Whitfield – who plays the title character – has had a recurrence of the non-Hodgkin lymphoma that delayed the second series of the show.
Starz, the network which makes the show, created a prequel miniseries when Whitfield was first diagnosed with cancer. Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena would resurrect much loved characters such as Batiatus (John Hannah) and cover the gap until Whitfield recovered from his treatment. However, with the recurrence of the disease, Whitfield seems to be stepping back permanently. Here’s the statement he released:
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. It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey. Thank you sincerely for the support so far.
The President and CEO of Starz, Chris Albrecht spoke kindly about Whitfield in a statement released yesterday:
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.
This throws a second series of Spartacus into jeopardy. Starz haven’t commented on whether a second series will be made now, and even if it is, whether they’ll wait for Whitfield or bring in another actor for the role.
However, our thoughts are mostly with Andy Whitfield and his family at this difficult time. We really hope that this more aggressive round of treatment will yield positive results. Get well soon, Andy!