The untimely death of “Spartacus” star Andy Whitfield — and the grace he showed while battling his illness — still resonates deeply with co-star Lucy Lawless and Liam McIntyre, the Australian actor tasked with replacing Whitfield as the gladiator drama’s titular star.
“We fully expected Andy to come back. We wanted him to go through treatment, and in order to keep the show alive in the interim they hurriedly wrote [the prequel],” she says. “It was really a stop-gap measure to keep the ‘franchise,’ for want of a better word, alive while giving Andy time to heal.
“Unfortunately that didn’t happen,” she says. “Andy, bless him, came to love the crew and wanted them to keep working . . . so he said, ‘Please re-cast my part, I need to focus on my health.’ And he was so kind about it,” she says. “He was a very spiritual fellow. He came back to visit us when we were doing the prequel and I said to him, ‘I’d be so envious if I were you, watching your “family” carry on.’ He said, ‘I do feel bad, but I love [the cast and crew] so much.’ He had a lot of grace about that.”