When “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” actor Andy Whitfieldlearned he had cancer, namely stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma, he beat it. When a routine checkup discovered that it had returned, Whitfield and his wife Vashti decided to document his second fight against the disease, filming his battle for over a year, up until just before he died at age 39 in September 2011.
The footage has now been turned into a documentary, dubbed “Be Here Now” from Academy Award-nominated director-producer Lilibet Foster. The film was funded in part via the online Kickstarter campaign looking to raise $200,000 with donations accepted through July 23 in order to get the movie edited and into the film festival circuit, according to People magazine. The fundraising efforts are now about $25,000 shy of meeting the goal.
“When we decided to do this, we felt that if we’re going to go through something like this, let’s see what we can learn and share,” Vashti Whitfield tells the publication. “Otherwise, it’s just another wasted journey.”
In the footage, Whitfield opted to let cameras to document everything about his fight to survive, from the joy of being with children to, as the magazine describes, his “darkest moments.”
The piece points to one scene showing the actor reacting to the news that his cancer had returned: “I think I’m just so numb from too much information, that I just don’t know how I feel right now,” he said.
In another scene, according to the article, a hairless Whitfield – “his body now ravaged by the treatment and a tumor so painful he soon wouldn’t be able to walk” – has to lie on his back as he’s fed through a CT scan.
“That’s it, breathe out,” his wife tells him. “You can do this, Andy. You’re doing an incredible job. That’s it, breathe out. Breathe into the pain.”
The footage ends around two weeks before Whitfield’s death on Sept. 11, 2011.
“It’s not going to be a sad movie,” film director Lilibet Foster said of the work. “It’s going to be a very beautiful, inspiring and uplifting film, not the least of which is an amazing love story between him and his wife.”
Here’s a preview of the movie…