Andy Whitfield

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Andy Whitfield, who died in Sydney on 11 September at the age of 39, was an actor who played the title role in the hit television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. He died 18 months after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Whitfield, who moved to Australia from his native Wales in 1999, was a virtual unknown when he was cast as the legendary Thracian slave in Spartacus, a role made famous by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film. The series proved a break-out hit for the Starz network and made waves with its graphic violence and sexuality. Whitfield appeared in all 13 episodes of the first season that aired in 2010, and was preparing to shoot the second when he was diagnosed with cancer.

While waiting for Whitfield's treatment and expected recovery, the network produced a six-part prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, that aired earlier this year with only a brief voiceover from the actor. But in January, after Whitfield,s condition grew worse, the network announced that another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre, would take over the role.

Whitfield was born in Amlwch in Wales, on Anglesey, on 17 July 1972. He studied engineering at the University of Sheffield, England and worked in Lidcombe, Australia as an engineer before settling in Sydney.

He attended the Screenwise Film & TV School for Actors in Sydney, and appeared in several Australian television series, such as Opening Up, All Saints, The Strip, Packed to the Rafters and McLeod's Daughters. His first big role was in the Australian supernatural film Gabriel.

His Spartacus co-star Lucy Lawless said Whitfield was a "gentle man who never had a bad world about anyone". She added that Whitfield was a brilliant actor and a gifted photographer and engineer, saying, "Obviously, Andy Whitfield left an indelible mark on all of us in the Spartacus family. Andy's incandescent film presence made men want to be him and women want to marry him. Andy's two babies will always know that their Daddy cherished them and their mother, Vashti, above all things. How lucky we were to have him grace all our lives."