In March 2010, Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and began treatment immediately in New Zealand. This delayed production of season two of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. While waiting for Whitfield’s treatment and expected recovery, the network produced a six-part prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, with only a brief uncredited voiceover from the actor. Although declared cancer-free only two months later, he suffered a recurrence of the disease later in the year and was ultimately forced to leave the role. Starz recast Australian actor Liam McIntyre as Spartacus.
A short 18 months after his cancer diagnosis, Whitfield died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma on September 11, 2011. The actor’s manager, Sam Maydew, and Whitfield’s wife, Vashti, issued a statement confirming his death in Sydney, Australia ‘surrounded by his family’. In her statement, Vashti said: “On a beautiful sunny Sydney … 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.” He is survived by his wife and two children.
Steven DeKnight, the creator of Spartacus, said “No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother.” Lucy Lawless, Whitfield’s co-star in Spartacus, described him as “a gentle man who never said a bad word about anyone, a gifted photographer, engineer (no really!) and a brilliant actor. 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. Godspeed, Andy!”