An Ode to Spartacus, Andy Whitfield

In honor of Andy Whitfield, an actor who was best known for his portrayal of the gladiator Spartacus on the gritty Starz channel series of the same name, this post chronicles Whitfield’s best works as an actor for both television and film. Andy died of lymphoma at the young age of 39 in the company of his loving wife in Australia. Related link here.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Whitfield because of his portrayal of Spartacus, one of the most graphic and violent shows aired on television which also has for its base a strong story. The show initially drew attention because of its excessive portrayal of sex and violence but soon found itself developing a solid fanbase, leading to syndication in several countries.

The series deals with scandal, politics and the subsequent stories of each of the gladiators training at the ludus of Quintus Batiatus, and delivers it with excellent cinematography, special effects and editing, even as writers develop intelligent and colorful dialogue thrown at each other by the stars. Andy did his best work in the 13 episode first season as he brought to life the anguish and the struggles of a Thracian warrior forced to serve the whims of a man who has squandered his family’s wealth and tries to cling to power by the performance of his wards.

I have not seen all of Andy’s work because most of them have been produced in Australia but these are his top 3 of his works that I saw and liked.

3. The Clinic (2010): The Clinic is a disturbing thriller produced in Australia about a secret warehouse type facility preying on pregnant young women, forcibly removing their babies to be sent for adoption. Whitfield plays the role of the fiancee who desperately tries to save his partner and their baby from the hands of the adoption ring operating from an undisclosed location.

2. Gabriel (2007): The film stars Andy Whitfield in the title role as one of the warriors of Heaven whose mission is restore light to purgatory, which has become a dank and seedy city, rife with sin. Heaven and hell have both sent their own warriors to assume control over purgatory, and the Archangels (from Heaven) and the Fallen (from Hell) race to find and destroy each other before light or darkness swallows purgatory. Andy portrays a conflicted warrior of God, who, after being exposed to pain and loss, briefly lost sight of his original goal. Andy did justice to his role as he effectively conveyed the inner conflict of the Archangel who first experiences the flaws of humanity and how in the end, understanding his true mission and what it entails.

1. Spartacus (2010): Spartacus deals with the story of a Thracian warrior, whose wife is taken from him by the Romans, who is sold and bought as a slave by the House of Batiatus. The Thracian who is named Spartacus by his new master, vows allegiance to the house in exchange of a promise from the ludus’s owner to find his wife and reunite him with her. What follows is a shocking tale of betrayal and triumph, scandal and deceit, death and conviction, all taking place within the walls of the ludus and decided in bloodbaths inside the arena. Andy Whitfield brought to life the character, both the dramatic and action aspects and related well to his co-stars throughout the run of the series. Unfortunately, after the first season, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and was laid up for several months before producers tried to buy him some time to return to the show by releasing a 6-episode prequel. After it was learned that he was not going to recover in time for the second season, the suits decided to find a suitable replacement for Whitfield in the form of Liam McIntyre. Check out related post here.

Andy Whitfield had a short career and a relatively short life, but his contributions and his body of work has established him as one of the better actors of his generation. It will be hard to top his performances. He will surely be missed by his fans throughout the world, myself included. Rest in Peace, Andy!

For Andy’s complete filmography, check out his IMDB page here.