Former Spartacus star Andy Whitfield died on Sept.11 in Sydney after fighting a losing battle with cancer.
Whitfield, 39, played the title role in Spartacus: Blood and Sand that debuted in January 2010 and was aired by Starz. He played Spartacus, a slave soldier condemned to fight as a gladiator and who ultimately leads a rebellion against the Romans.
Whitfield's strong performance in the series, which was also known for graphic violence, strong sexual content and coarse language, catapulted him to a fame that forced Starz to delay the production season two of Spartacus when the Welsh-born actor and model was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in March 2010.
Whitfield was about to come back after being declared cancer-free, but he suffered a recurrence of the disease in September 2010 and was ultimately forced to leave the role, which is now being done by another Australian actor, Liam McIntyre.
While waiting for Whitfield's treatment and expected recovery, Starz aired a six-part prequel, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, earlier this year with only a brief voiceover from the actor.
We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Andy Whitfield, said Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht. We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in 'Spartacus' and came to know that the man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life. Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength and grace.
Hollywood and Whitfield's fans mourned the death of the former Spartacus star on Twitter.
One tweeted: I really thought you were doing well... This is hard, I just can't believe he's gone. We'll love you forever, wherever you are now, Andy.
Spartacus creator Steven DeKnight said: No words to express the depth of such a loss. You will be deeply missed, my brother.
Director Norman Buckley tweeted: So sad about Andy Whitfield. But a lesson--there are no guarantees. Every moment is precious. Life is a gift.
Fans posted condolences on his fan page on Facebook:
You had the hardest battle any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. You will be always remembered. Rest in peace, wrote Leo Olmos.
Curt Wagner, a TV columnist with RedEye at the Tribune Co., called Whitfield intelligent, thoughtful, funny and a completely likable guy and talented actor. He was a true star.