What a bummer. Andy Whitfield who played the title role in Spartacus: Blood and Sand was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in March. Production shut down on season two and to bridge the gap while Whitfield sought treatment Starz created the prequel: Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Whitfield had been in remission and was preparing for the rigors of production for the second season, but has now been advised to immediately resume treatment and will not return for the series second season which had been tentatively scheduled to air this time next year.
“It’s with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus and all the wonderful people involved. It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey. Thank you sincerely for the support so far,” said Whitfield.
“Our hearts and prayers are with Andy and his family during this difficult time,” said Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht. “Andy is not only an incredible actor whose portrayal of Spartacus made an indelible impression on Starz audiences, he is also an amazing human being whose courage, strength, and grace in the face of adversity have inspired all of us.”
According to a statement from Starz no decision has been made about the future of the series yet. “Right now, we just want to extend our concern and support to Andy and his family,” said Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director, Starz Media. “We will address our programming plans at some later date.”
Starz still plans to air the prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena as originally scheduled in January 2011.