EXPIRED: 09/11/11 – Andy Whitfield, 39, was born in Wales and moved to Australia in 1999. He had appeared in a few Australian TV shows like “Packed to the Rafters” and “McLeod’s Daughters” when a casting agency noticed the buff actor and imagined him saying “I AM SPARTACUS!”
Virtually unknown at the time, Whitfield took the role of the Thracian slave, a role made famous by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film, and breathed new life into it. It also breathed new life in the cable station, Starz, which filled the show, now called “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” with graphic violence and sexual scenes. After the first season ended last year, Whitfield returned to Australian to rest before the grueling shooting schedule for the next season began. It was during this time that he was diagnosed with cancer.
While waiting for Whitfield to get treatment and recover, Starz produced a 6-part prequel, “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena,” that aired in spring of 2011 with only a brief voiceover from the actor.
But in January, they decided they could wait no longer and filled the role of Spartacus with Liam McIntyre, another Australian actor.
Whitfield died in the arms of his wife, Vashti, just 18 months after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.