Andy Whitfield will not be returning for the second season star of Starz’s ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand,’ as he instead undergoes “aggressive treatment for a recurrence of cancer,” his publicist says in a statement cited by The Hollywood Reporter.
The Welsh-born actor, 35, had been diagnosed with treatable Stage 1 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early March, and was declared cancer free in early May. He completed his original treatment therapy in June.
“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,” Whitfield says in a statement. “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.”
Whitfield was most confident about his return to ‘Spartacus’ when he appeared at the show’s panel at the San Diego Comic-Con this summer. “I feel better than ever,” he told Zap2It. “Like, seriously, I feel like I’m 10 years younger. I had a good rest.”
To accommodate the production delay born of Whitfield’s original recuperation, Starz halted the original ‘Spartacus’ and fast-tracked a six-episode prequel series titled ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.’ Whitfield was to appear in the first and last episodes, serving as a “bookend” sort of touchstone.
Production on ‘Gods of the Arena’ is underway, while ‘Blood and Sand’s future lies in limbo.
“Right now, we just want to extend our concern and support to Andy and his family,” says Starz Media managing director Carmi Zlotnik. “We will address our programming plans at some later date.”