When Spartacus star Andy Whitfield was battling cancer in the last months of his life, he had a camera crew with him every step of the way. The result is Be Here Now, a feature-length documentary project about the late actor, which is launching a campaign to raise money for its completion.
Related: R.I.P. Andy Whitfield
Whitfield was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after wrapping the first season of Starz’s Spartacus, a role that would make him a global star. He went through a rigorous program of chemotherapy and was deemed as being in remission when, during a physical to return to Spartacus, his blood tests raised a flag, resulting in a devastating news for the actor — his cancer had come back stronger than ever, leaving him with about a 25% chance of survival. Facing another round of treatments, Whitfield and his wife Vashti decided to have it all documented. “Our last experience with it was very difficult and lonely, we felt we had a lot of questions,” Whitfield’s manager Sam Maydew recalls the actor and his wife telling him back then. “We want to bring awareness to cancer treatment so others who go through it feel they’re not alone.” Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Lilibet Foster (Speaking In Strings), whose family hails from the same small Welsh town where Whitfield was raised, came on board. She spent the next year with Whitfield and his family as the actor went through grueling rounds of chemo and traveled to India for a shot at an Eastern medicine treatment.
When the cancer returned, Whitfield and his wife got matching Be Here Now tattoos Foster says symbolized the fact that “they would take the healing in their own hands” and also provided the title for her documentary. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jai Courtney, who starred in the first season of the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has landed a lead in One Shot, Paramount’s Christopher McQuarrie-directed drama based on the Lee Child-penned Jack Reacher novel series. In One Shot, … Read More »
Starz will pay tribute to former Spartacus star Andy Whitfield, who died of cancer last Sunday. The tribute, which will air this Sunday at 9 PM, will include five episodes of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, including the premiere and finale … Read More »
In the arena as Spartacus, he was invincible. But in real life, former Spartacus: Blood and Sand star Andy Whitfield has lost his battle with cancer. The Welsh-born actor, who was beloved by fans of Starz’s gladiator drama, passed away today in Sydney, Australia, where he had lived since 1999. “On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with lymphoma cancer,” Whitfield’s wife Vashti said in a statement. “He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have help carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was.” Whitfield was 39.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield,” Starz president and CEO 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.” Added Spartacus creator Steven DeKnight via Twitter, “No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother.”
Whitfield got his big break when he was cast as the title character on Spartacus: Blood and Sand. But during a routine checkup in March 2010 just before production on Season 2 was to begin, he was diagnosed with what was described at the time as treatable Stage 1 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Production was put on hold while Whitfield underwent treatment. He eventually went into remission and was days away from starting filming on Season 2 when his cancer came back and he had to resume aggressive treatment. Despite that, he remained positive, while the Spartacus role was eventually recast with Liam McIntyre. Read More »
The search for a replacement of cancer-stricken Spartacus star Andy Whitfield is over. Australian actor Liam McIntyre has been named the new star of the Starz drama series, which became a breakout hit for the pay cable channel when it first launched a year ago. McIntyre was one of 3 actors who were flown to New Zealand to audition in November. He was the only one that remained in consideration after the test while the network continued to see other candidates. Starz brass reportedly liked his acting abilities but he was asked to bulk up his thin frame in order to pass off as a believable gladiator. In announcing McIntyre’s casting, Starz said he “has excelled at a grueling and rigorous audition process to claim the title role in the second season” of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The series’ prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, debuts on Friday. Here is more from the network’s release:
McIntyre takes over the role of the Thracian warrior sold into slavery in the Roman Republic city of Capua – where he rises to become the champion of the city – before leading the slave revolt that ended Season 1. The part was played in the first season of “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” by Andy Whitfield, who was forced to leave the show in order due to health issues. Whitfield gave his blessing to the recasting.
“Since no one can really replace Andy, we realized that we should instead find an actor who can truly lead ‘Spartacus’ forward,” Straz’s CEO Chris Albrecht notes. “It was important to us to have Andy endorse the idea of recasting this part, which he did in the same heroic manner that he’s dealt with his whole ordeal. And that, coupled with our fortune in finding a young actor with the gladiator credentials and the acting ability of Liam, makes it easier for us to keep this hit franchise going.”
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EXCLUSIVE: With … Read More »
Spartacus: Blood and Sand will continue. Ending months of speculation, Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht confirmed that the costume drama will proceed with Season 2. “We are officially going ahead with the long planned but unfortunately delayed second season of Spartacus,” he said at the opening of Starz’s TCA … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE THURSDAY UPDATE: I hear that none of the three actors who screen tested for the Spartacus lead this week, Stephen Amell, Aiden Turner and Liam McIntyre, got the role. However, Starz is still holding onto McIntyre, the Australian, while the other two have been released. He may still get to be the next Spartacus, succeeding the ailing Andy Whitfield. But I hear Starz brass is considering all options for its hit series, including the possibility of ending it or bringing in someone else for the lead. Read More »
This shocking news that he needs aggressive treatment for a recurrence of cancer was made public today by Starz cable network and the Spartacus: Blood and Sand star himself, Andy Whitfield. He was first diagnosed with treatable Stage 1 non-Hodgkin lymphoma … Read More »
Dustin Clare, a virtual unknown in the U.S., but a popular TV actor in his native Australia, has landed the lead in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Starz’s six-part prequel to hit series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Jaime Murray and Marisa … Read More »