|Andy Whitfield in a screen-grab from the 2009 feature film "Gabriel" |
(taken by me as I was watching the film)
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.)
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.