Spartacus star Andy Whitfield ready to do battle

Spartacus star Andy Whitfield ready to do battle
In true gladiator style, Whitefield fights illness before second season of Spartacus

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Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the classic tale of the legendary gladiator, has become a breakout success story for cable’s premium Starz Network. The first season finale airs April 16, but the filming of the second season was recently delayed while its titled star, Andy Whitfield does battle with a medical condition.

The muscular Spartacus star, Whitfield has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and he is receiving treatment. The Starz Network released a statement reporting the cancer was discovered during a routine checkup as Whitfield prepared to go into production for the sophomore season in New Zealand.

The Whitfield expects to come back in true gladiator style, and the athletic actor reports, “I’m receiving excellent care, and am feeling strong, positive and determined with an army of support behind me.”

Even before the show premiered, word of mouth had spread about Spartacus being akin to the film 300 with its graphic novel look. It is filled with splattering violence, as well as sex as explicit as Starz would allow, and still be considered artistic in the visceral storytelling.

The story is epic, following Spartacus as he is torn from his homeland and the woman he loves. He is condemned to the brutal world of the gladiator arena, where blood and death are primetime entertainment. Treachery, corruption and the allure of sensual pleasures constantly test Spartacus. To survive he becomes a legend.

Whitfield told us last year that he jumped at the chance to play the character. “Who wouldn’t want to do this role?” Whitfield asks. “You’re guaranteed to look cool in the show because of the character, his journey and the fighting, and the beautiful women. Sometimes at the same time.”

The handsome Brit who grew up in Wales has always been in good shape, and says he did a lot of physical preparation for his role. Mostly for the fight scenes, “not the love scenes,” he jokes.

In the beginning, training was pretty brutal, according to Whitfield. “When I first flew to New Zealand, I was put in ‘Gladiator Boot Camp,’ which entailed four hours a day getting smashed to pieces by big stunt guys and learning how to fall. That was really essential, to prevent injuries.”

The sword fighting was tough, and so was his diet to get his body in prime shape. “It was really hard. You get to the end of that first month, and then you start shooting for eight months, so you have to stay in shape all that time.”

He had the physical strength to endure for the grueling filming schedule that produced the magnificent first season of 13 hour-long epic episodes. Now Whitfield is calling on his inner strength to get him through his medical crisis.

Starz president Chris Albrecht says, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy. His health, of course, is our primary concern. He has our complete support.”

As he starts his treatments, Whitfield is upbeat and looking forward to starting the second season of Spartacus soon. He reports that his doctors have stated that his condition is very treatable and was detected in its early stages.

It is an inspiring battle worthy of Spartacus.


Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who have written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 30 years.

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