EXCLUSIVE: Spartacus star Andy Whitfield has been given a clean bill of health and is already training for his return to the set of the Starz drama series. “I’m raring to go,” Whitfiled said in a phone interview from New Zealand. Fans will be able to meet the actor at next month’s Comic Con where Whitfield will make an appearance along with other actors and producers from Starz’s breakout series Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
Welsh-born Whitfield was diagnosed with treatable Stage 1 non-Hodgkin lymphoma in early March during a routine checkup just as the show was about to start shooting Season 2. He began treatment immediately while production was put on hold. About five weeks ago, tests revealed that Whitfield was clear of cancer and three weeks ago, he completed his treatment. Whitfield, who thanked Starz executives for sticking with him and supporting him through his ordeal, has already started his own training for what is a very physically demanding role and will start vigorous boot camp training at the end of July.
While Whitfield was undergoing treatment, Starz announced a six-episode Spartacus prequel focused on two other characters from the series, played by Lucy Lawless and John Hannah. Whitfield will appear in two of the episodes and is expected to get in front of the camera sometime in October, giving him plenty of time to get in shape. (He notes that for the first season, he only had a month to prepare.) Upon wrapping the prequel, the cast and crew are expected to segue directly into filming Season 2 of the original series.
Whitfield shaved his head after starting to lose his hair during chemo but it is already growing back and he will have his trademark Spartacus hairdo shortly.
For 35-year-old Whitfield, the news of his cancer diagnosis came out of the blue just as the first season of Spartacus was breaking ratings records for Starz week after week and production on Season 2 was about to begin.
“After the initial shock – I was a healthy young man and had no idea that this could happen — it was frustrating that the first season was ending on such a high note and we could’ve been rolling into season 2.” But after that initial shock came “time to heal, figure things out and spend time with my family,” he said. And the experience has thought him some important lessons, like: “Stay in the now and enjoy every moment.”