Sep 26, 2011

When the good die young

Andy Whitfield in a screen-grab from the 2009 feature film "Gabriel"
(taken by me as I was watching the film)
I wanted to break our regular transmission to acknowledge the life—and sad, sad death—of a man who’s been the inspiration for three of my heroes: welsh-born Aussie actor Andy Whitfield. 

The 39-year-old actor passed on September 11 from (non-Hodgkin’s) lymphoma (a cancer of the immune system) which he’d been fighting for 18 months.  

His wife referred to him as her ‘beautiful, young warrior’ and from all reports he was beautiful inside and out. But if you needed any evidence you have it in his final words to his two very young children: I am going to go to sleep now as my body won't work anymore. I am like a butterfly with broken wings.

Trained as an engineer, a model and actor, I have no doubt Andy would have been up there with the biggest of the Hollywood hotties given another few years. He just had ‘it’.

Not everyone liked the StarzTV series, ‘Spartacus’ because of its flashiness and gore and sexual frankness, but I am a fan (for all those reasons) and I watched it for Whitfield. No-one did angsty, conflicted, struggling, sensitive-macho quite like him. He was the classic romantic hero personified once a week.

(And he was one half of the most erotic, arty, tasteful yet graphic television sex-scenes I’ve ever watched.)
It’s hard not to wonder whether the 6 hours-a-day, 6-days-a-week brutal training the cast reportedly did to get sufficiently buffed up to portray the slave gladiators had any impact on bringing forward the attack on his immune system. He was called the fittest guy on television at the 2010 Comic Con just weeks before his remission ended. But it’s hard not to shake your head that a body that fit and that strong still succumbed.

What chance to the rest of us have?

I had myself an Andy Whitfield memorial day last week just to honour the man who has inspired so many of my heroes.  I revisited my favourite Spartacus episodes and watched Gabriel, his first feature-film. It was angsty and arty and he was still spectacularly, beautifully heroic.

He’s still fabulous. He’ll still inspire future heroes but maybe they’ll be young, devoted fathers more than buff warriors in my mind, now.

RIP Andy Whitfield. Lay down your sword.


  1. My heart goes out to his friends, family, and fans. It's hard to believe that someone so young and fit could die at any time.

  2. Right there with you Nikki. I've just done a post for eharlequin with Andy as the person who inspired my current hero - gorgeous, inside and out.

  3. Hey Nikki, lovely tribute. I too am a big fan of Spartacus but haven't seen Gabriel yet. Will have to see if I can track it down.


  4. Beautiful post Nikki - such a tragic end to a beautiful, courageous man.

  5. I was shocked when the news came out that he died. Andy also had a sense of humor and you should check out this video game parody he did called Time Crisis on You Tube.

  6. What a lovely tribute, Nikki. The world has certainly lost a hero.

  7. Marlena - it is hard to believe. Especially looking at how healtlhy he was.

    Scarlet - ooh, off to have a look, now.

    Zana - I liked 'Gabriel' but most people didn't. It's been knocked as pretentious but as an old film-student I just think it's amazing what they did on so little money. But he's gorgeous in it.

  8. Mel - he was beautiful, wasn't he *sigh*

    Jane - I *loved* Time Crisis and the YouTube sendup was so clever. ("Oh, come on!!"). Off to watch it again now.

    Michelle - who will inspire me now? :(

  9. Nikki, I hadn't heard of him before he died - I haven't watched Spartacus or Gabriel, but I'll try and track down at least one of them after your tribute.

  10. Nikki, what a wonderful tribute! I'm like Rachel -- in fact, I hadn't heard of Andy Whitfield until I read your post. I shall look for his work now. He sounds like a great guy, talented, but also an extremely nice person. Such a shame he's dead.

  11. I do not watch a lot of TV but strangely enough another author posted this same picture a few days ago. I can't find it so it must have been on eHarlequin. That site will not open for me right now so I can't check. This is a really great tribute to someone who died much too young.

  12. Just popping in to say it was Scarlet Wilson of harlequin Medicals that posted the picture.

  13. Nikki, what a lovely tribute. I haven't seen any of Andy Whitfield's work but I'm inspired to go out and buy some.

    His words to his children brought a lump to my throat.

  14. can you imagine the roles he would have brought to life? Another Welsh Bond...he would have been perfect...that face, that voice and man, could he act...