Andy Whitfield, the star at the center of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has announced in conjunction with the Starz network that he won’t be returning to the series for its second season due to a recurrence of cancer.
The actor was diagnosed with treatable Stage 1 non-Hodgkin lymphoma earlier this year, leading Starz to begin production on a prequel miniseries titled Spartacus: Gods of the Arena to bridge the gap between seasons while Whitfield recovered from his illness. Whitfield declared victory over cancer during his appearance at Comic-Con International, but it appears that the good news was short-lived.
“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 said in a press release. “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.”
“Our hearts and prayers are with Andy and his family during this difficult time,” added 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 the release, no decisions regarding the future of Spartacus have been made, with future programming plans to be announced “at some later date.” The currently filming prequel series, Gods of the Arena, will still air in January 2011 as planned.
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