The Passing of Andy Whitfield

Last night I received a very sobering text message from fellow WSB writer Gerard Iribe. It stated that Spartacus star Andy Whitfield passed away. For months I had wondered of the progress of the actor’s battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and last night was not the outcome I was expecting. Instead of focusing on the sadness of his departure, however, I figured it better to reflect on the positive that he brought to us as well as the indirect impact he has had here on Why So Blu.

When mention first came about of an ongoing Spartacus TV series, I figured what the heck, I’ll give it a bash.  I’d seen a few snipits of footage here and there, teasing and tantalizing audiences nationwide with its 300-style editing and effects, gladiatorial battles and devious characters.  When the series aired, I was instantly hooked.  The women were hot.  The story was solid.  The fights were brutal.  Then there was Andy Whitfield; the flagship actor of the group portraying the lead character.  He was a respectable warrior thrown into a world of chaos by the Romans and Andy played his role oh so well.

I consider myself incredibly fortunate, all due to Why So Blu-founder Brian White, for giving me the opportunity in January 2010 to partake in a phone interview with Spartacus creator Steve DeKnight and series stars Lucy Lawless and of course, Andy Whitfield.  All three were extremely down to earth people who were accomodating with their answers as myself and the other journalists on the line inquired about everything from what it takes to become Spartacus to the show’s ultimate arrival on Blu-ray (http://whysoblu.com/spartacus-blood-and-sand-%E2%80%93-discussion-with-cast/).  Though I was nervous and excited to be on that call and the show was still young, I still very much appreciated the full scope and dialogue of that call.  Little did I know I’d appreciate it even more today.

Then later in 2010, the ugly news hit.  Andy was diagnosed with cancer.  It was a shock to fans of the show, let alone to Andy’s friends and family.  Here you had this extremely healthy, very cut individual, befallen with one of the most scary diseases around.  Nevertheless, Whitfield and his doctors fought the illness like Spartacus would combat any adversary in the arena.  It was eventually announced that Andy was clear of the cancer and was then given the thumbs-up to dive head first into the shooting of season 2.  A tidal wave of relief was released, but sadly, it was to be short-lived.

Last year, Brian and I attended the Spartacus discussion panel at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con.  Needless to say, it was an awesome time hearing from the actors and seeing Andy healthy and in person.  There’s something I need to get off my chest about being in the room that day that I haven’t talked often about.  Why So Blu’s photographer extraordinaire, Scott Morrison, was with us at last year’s Con.  However, instead of sitting in on the general attendance Spartacus panel, he opted for the Guillermo Del Toro press-only panel.  I was torn and decided on Whitfield and crew instead.  During the actors’ discussion, I got word that Scott had just met Will Ferrell and Eva Mendez.  They were exiting a panel preceeding the Del Toro one and viola…Scott struck up a conversation with both actors.  I was jealous.  Still, there was no denying the fun I was having where I was at.  I can honestly say today, I have no regrets about deciding on the panel I did.  It would be Andy Whitfield’s one and only appearance at Comic-Con.

As the weekend events came to a close, we got back home from another über fun year in San Diego and it was back to business on the website.  Our writers here are extremely talented.  They cover material in depth and there’s an undeniable passion in their work.  It’s just as recognizable in their full-length articles as it is in their one-line comments.  Still, talent and hard work alone weren’t attracting the web hits that we wanted.  Then, a year ago from tomorrow, Brian White posted his Blu-ray review of Spartacus: Season 1.  If Why So Blu is a space shuttle, then that article was our launchpad.  Readers came in hoards to review his thoughts and words on one of the hottest shows cable had to offer.  Up until then, I think I had the most visited article with my review of a Daughtry concert (thanks, Sis!).  Brian’s work blew my doors off and I didn’t mind one bit.  Andy Whitfield and company saved the day, taking months of frustratingly modest numbers and propelling us to a level of impressive consistency ever since.  There are a lot of people to thank on the site for maintaining that, but with Brian as the projector and Andy Whitfield as the reel of film, we struck gold.

So that’s how Andy Whitfield has affected this website.  Yes I know there are other actors in that show, talented writers and a brilliant creator.  They all had a hand in on our success.  Still, a band is known most for its lead singer and in Spartacus, that was Andy.  Sorrowfully, the Welsh actor has departed.  Conflicting reports vary in his age.  IMDB says he was 36 while some of the news sites are saying he was 39.  Regardless, he was lost too early in life.

For the video coverage of Comic-Con’s 2010 Spartacus panel, please visit Entertainment Weekly at the following link: http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/09/11/andy-whitfield-death/

I’m very happy to have spoken with you, Andy.  We’ll never see the other works you would have taken after retiring your blade, though we are fortunate to have what you gave us.  Cheers, mate.





12 Responses to “The Passing of Andy Whitfield”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    Great tribute, Gregg!

  2. Brian White

    This is a very moving, emotional and touching tribute to the man.

    Thanks for writing this Gregg. I couldn’t have wrote this better myself. It brings a tear to my eye to think how much success Spartacus has brought to our site.

    From the bottom of my heart, my condolences go out to Andy’s family, friends and fans around the world.

    His legacy will live on forever!

  3. Patrick

    Nicely written. I did not tune into the Spartacus show but I have heard great things about it. It is always sad to hear when someone so young so full of promise is taken from the world prematurely. I feel for his family, friends, and all those who enjoyed his acting throughout the world. I hope they can make it through this rough time.

  4. Jiminy Critic

    Well done… It reminds us to squeeze everything out of every day that you can…

  5. Mary

    Well written Gregg!
    My thoughts and prayers go out to Andy’s family during this difficult time.

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    He IS Spartacus!

  7. J. DySart

    Wow! Shocking news. My condolences also goes out to his family and friends. I’ll be praying for all of them. Well done, Gregg.

  8. Loot

    As always, another well written article Gregg, but more so, a very moving and poignant tribute to a very talented actor. Your words were very well chosen. I’m sure if he could read it, he’d say, well done mate, thanks for the kind words. My condolences to his family and friends.

  9. Gregg

    Thanks, everybody. Andy will be missed. Inspiring people provide for easily written material.

  10. Sean Ferguson

    Nice job Gregg!

  11. Matt Goodman

    Great tribute, Gregg. He will be missed, he was a great talent and a real badass on the battlefield.

    *Below is from perezhilton.com*

    To honor his wonderful contributions to the television community, Starz will pay special tribute to Andy, who died at 37 of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

    In October, they were showcase five of his most outstanding episodes from the series. The mini marathon will air October 2.

    They will also re-air the entire season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand on December 16, 2011.

  12. Spartacus Vengeance

    Liam McIntyre will be around for two more season at least in Spartacus!