- Andy Whitfield’s Death Brings Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Center Stage
- Inside Spartacus Star Andy Whitfield’s Brave Final Fight Against Cancer
- Andy Whitfield Leaves “Spartacus” After Cancer Recurrence
- ‘I couldn’t fight the battle for him’ says Vashti Whitfield
- Spartacus star’s cancer fight captured in new documentary
- Spartacus TV actor Andy Whitfield dies at 39
- ‘Courage and strength’
- Actor Whitfield’s death raises questions about Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Andy Whitfield’s Death: Fans React to the ‘Spartacus’ Star Losing Battle With Lymphoma
- After he succumbs to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma Sunday, people paid tribute on Twitter.
- Wasn’t Spartacus’ Andy Whitfield Supposed to Be Cancer-Free?
Andy Whitfield’s Death Brings Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Center Stage
September 12, 2011 — Australian actor Andy Whitfield, who rose to fame as the lead in the Starz Network series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, died Sunday at age 39. The cause was non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which he had been fighting since March 2010. That month, Whitfield took what was supposed to be a temporary hiatus from the show; six months later, in September, he announced that he was leaving the project for good to undergo aggressive treatment.
“It’s with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus and all the wonderful people involved,” he said in a statement. “It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey.”
Unfortunately, Whitfield’s journey came to an end this weekend. His death sent waves of grief throughout the entertainment community, spurring reactions from cast mates and fans alike and raising questions about the condition that claimed his life.
How Common Is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the seventh most common cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society reports that it accounts for around 4 percent of all cancers and affects more than 65,000 people annually, 95 percent of whom are adults. Though it can strike children, too, risk increases with age, and it’s most common in people over 60. Other risk factors include gender (more men are diagnosed), geography (it strikes most often in the United States and Europe), and a weakened immune system.
What Are the Symptoms of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma?
Possible signs of non-Hodgkin lymphoma include fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, unexplained weight loss, rashes, cough, and pain in your chest, stomach, or bone. But the most common early symptom, according to the LLS, is painless swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin.
Lymph nodes are vital to your immune system. There are more than 500 of them throughout the body, but they’re most noticeable in the head and neck and under the arms, where they’re closer to the surface of the skin. A healthy lymph node is about one centimeter wide, but exposure to germs or infection can cause it to swell to as much as an inch in diameter.
Are Swollen Lymph Nodes Always a Sign of Cancer?
Swollen lymph nodes can be caused by many things, but most aren’t serious and can be treated easily with antibiotics or over-the-counter medicines prescribed by your doctor. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most frequent cause is a viral infection such as the common cold. In that case, the enlarged node may go away on its own once your body has fought off the virus that caused it.
Other possible causes of swollen lymph nodes include strep throat, ear infections, mononucleosis, an infected tooth, and, less often, certain sexually transmitted diseases, cat scratch fever, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancers such as lymphoma or leukemia.
So how do you know if your swollen nodes are something or nothing? Pay attention to your symptoms. The Mayo Clinic advises seeing your doctor if the node appears swollen for no reason, continues to grow, feels hard or rubbery to the touch, doesn’t go away after two weeks, or is accompanied by a persistent fever, weight loss, or sore throat.
Inside Spartacus Star Andy Whitfield’s Brave Final Fight Against Cancer
After months of clashing swords and seeking vengeance, Andy Whitfield – the chiseled gladiator from TV’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand – ended the first season exhausted with an aching back.
“It’s one of the most extreme things I’ve ever gone through,” he’d recall of the role that made the Welsh-born actor a star. “There was a lot of pain at the end of that. I wasn’t sure what it was. And it wasn’t going away.”
In March 2010 doctors found out why. The then-38-year-old Whitfield had cancer, specifically stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. After a relatively mild round of chemotherapy, by September he felt healthy enough to return to the New Zealand set for season two.
That’s when a routine checkup for insurance discovered that the cancer had returned. This time nothing would go easily. Without an aggressive and debilitating chemotherapy regimen, the married father of two small children would have three to six months left to live.
It was then that Whitfield and his wife Vashti decided to document his second cancer battle, inviting film crews and training digital cameras on themselves for more than a year, until shortly before he died at age 39 in September 2011.
A Documentary Funded by Fans
This intimate story is now being made into a film called Be Here Now from Academy Award-nominated director-producer Lilibet Foster, funded in part by an online Kickstarter campaign. Pledges are being accepted through July 23 toward the $200,000 target minimum to get the movie edited and into film festivals.
The footage provides an unflinching look at the brutal – and at times poignant – experiences of a man fighting cancer.
“When we decided to do this, we felt that if we’re going to go through something like this, let’s see what we can learn and share,” Vashti Whitfield tells PEOPLE. “Otherwise, it’s just another wasted journey.”
In a preview clip from the film, Whitfield himself explains the meaning of the project’s title, which he had tattooed on his arm.
“In my heart, I am convinced that this is all meant to be,” he says. “And I’m open to the journey and to the discovers and to the adventure of all of this. ‘Be here now’ is all about being present and not fearing what you don’t know.”
Whitfield decided to hold nothing back, exposing himself both at his best – as he embraces his children or mugs for the camera – and at his darkest moments.
“We did video diaries. We have a man crying, ‘I’m terrified I’m going to die and I have to leave my children,’” says his wife.
A Family Man
At the time, Whitfield – a former engineer who was literally discovered on the street to become a model and later actor – had been married for nine years. He was living in Australia and New Zealand with their son Jessie Red, then 5, and daughter Indigo, then 3. He had to drop out of the hit Starz show.
One of the early scenes shows Whitfield, his eyes red and watery, his head down, reacting to the news that his cancer had returned: “I think I’m just so numb from too much information, that I just don’t know how I feel right now.”
Discussing his options with his wife, “Andy decided, 100 percent, he wasn’t going to take it on the chin,” Vashti tells PEOPLE. The actor decided to undergo traditional treatments, but also explored ancient Eastern practices in India to bolster his immune system “to get him into the best state of being that he could be.”
Returning to Sydney, Australia, Whitfield then began a rigorous regime of chemotherapy – the film shows the IV dripping into his hand, his wife shaving off his remaining hair.
In one gripping scene, a pale and hairless Whitfield – his body now ravaged by the treatment and a tumor so painful he soon wouldn’t be able to walk – lies on his back as he’s fed through a CT scan. Eyes pressed shut, he groans in agony while his wife speaks to him through a microphone from another room.
“That’s it, breathe out,” she encourages him. “You can do this, Andy. You’re doing an incredible job. That’s it, breathe out. Breathe into the pain.”
The results are mixed, with the couple being told by phone that “the disease is there but it’s less than it was before.”
“It’s going the right way,” Whitfield responds hopefully, and his wife pats his bald head, saying, “Well done.”
“Not a Sad Movie”
The footage ends about two weeks before Whitfield’s death on Sept. 11, 2011, and his passing is told through Vashti recounting how he said goodbye.
“It’s not going to be a sad movie,” says director Foster. “It’s going to be a very beautiful, inspiring and uplifting film, not the least of which is an amazing love story between him and his wife.”
Adds Sam Maydew, a producer of the film: “Andy never wavered, not once, even though the treatment was really hard and some of the experiences were really tough. He was so committed to this and knew that no matter how it turned out, that this was going to be helpful to other people and inspiring to other people. That in turn inspired him.”
Andy Whitfield Leaves “Spartacus” After Cancer Recurrence
Australian actor Andy Whitfield, who played the lead title character on the TV drama “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” will not return to the series’ second season because of a cancer recurrence that will require treatment, the Starz network announced.
As reported by People magazine, Whitfield released a statement: “It’s with a deep sense of disappointment that I must step aside from such an exceptional project as Spartacus and all the wonderful people involved/ It seems that it is time for myself and my family to embark on another extraordinary journey.”
The actor was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma this past spring. Production was stopped as Whitfield was being treated, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It added that there is no word on “Spartacus”’ future plans—the second season was tentatively slated for September 2011.
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“Our hearts and prayers are with Andy and his family during this difficult time,” Chris Albrecht, Starz President and CEO, said. “Andy is not only an incredible actor whose portrayal of Spartacus made an indelible impression on Starz audiences, he is also an amazing human being whose courage, strength and grace in the face of adversity have inspired all of us.”
Selected Readings: People, The Hollywood Reporter
‘I couldn’t fight the battle for him’ says Vashti Whitfield
VASHTI Whitfield, 39, watched her husband, actor Andy Whitfield, fight a brave battle with cancer, and lose.
When I first met Andy, through mutual friends, I remember thinking, amazing blue eyes, lovely guy, but too skinny for me. A few years later, I was walking to my gym in London and I saw this handsome guy – it turned out to be Andy. We struck up a friendship and it went from there.
After we’d been together for three months, I went to New York and a friend said, “You must go to Sydney; you can go from running on the beach to working in a suit within an hour.” So, on December 1, 1998, Andy and I landed in Australia. We never looked back.
Being with Andy, who was very sensitive, allowed me to be more vulnerable and less gung-ho. I encouraged him to believe anything’s possible.
From there, all these opportunities came to fruition. I went from working as a design consultant to becoming a life coach.
Andy, who was an engineer, started modelling after being spotted on the street, and that led him to acting. Together, we evolved into new people.
In 2001 we decided to get married. We were going to elope to Las Vegas during a visit to New York but, on September 11, we found ourselves three blocks away from the Twin Towers when the first one fell.
Flights were grounded so, a week later, we returned to Sydney. On December 1, we gathered our friends and a celebrant at this amazing little bookstore down at the beach and said the five things we most loved about each other.
Our son Jesse was born in May 2005 and our daughter Indigo in October 2007. In 2009, Andy landed the lead role in the TV series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Towards the end of filming in New Zealand, he started having back pain, which became chronic before we left for the US to do publicity for the show.
It eased off a bit for a while, but then it came back and it was horrendous. A sports doctor advised Andy to get an X-ray. The X-ray showed some shadows, and that’s when he was first diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We went back to New Zealand for his treatment, as he was about to shoot season two of Spartacus.
That turned out to be a wonderful time for us, all things considered. The treatment wasn’t too bad and it gave us precious family time. Six weeks after his last chemo session, a scan showed the cancer was gone. We thought, cha-ching! We’ve done cancer, we got through it. It was an amazing feeling.
In September 2010, Andy had a test for insurance purposes – so he could resume filming – and it picked up an inflamed lymph node in his abdominal area. The next day, a biopsy was taken and we were told the cancer had returned. Without treatment, he had three months to live.
We returned to Sydney and Andy started chemo again. I didn’t think I’d lose him, but by June 2011, the intense treatment had left him broken and he quickly deteriorated. Watching him struggle with the pain and the notion of leaving his family and life was the hardest part – I couldn’t fight that battle for him.
For the last two weeks of his life, Andy wasn’t really present. He told the kids he was like a butterfly with a broken wing and he could no longer fly. We had talked to them about butterflies being beautiful but very sensitive and only here for a short time.
The last thing I ever said to him was, “You can go now,” and he went.
I’ve spent the past year working through what it means to be in the world without Andy. We never talked about it, but he knew I’ve always imagined myself with a loving partner. There’s no way he would have believed I’d be forever mourning him.
But the reality is, I miss him badly. Sometimes I wear his pyjamas and aftershave to bed, or I cry and hug the tree I dedicated to him. But I must let go of all that and focus on what I want in life, not what I no longer have.
— A documentary about Andy, Be Here Now, is due for release next year. Keep up with Vashti on her blog, www.maybemcqueen.com.
Spartacus star’s cancer fight captured in new documentary
“I would interview them separately and together, which gave them the ability to speak about things differently, and then Andy was really keen to shoot some ‘home videos’, so I got him a small-format camera and a microphone.”
She admits they did also filmed a coupe of re-enactments – “although you would never know where they were in the finished film, they were very subtle”.
Compromising was also a key part of the trust between filmmaker and subjects. “I always tried to work with them on what they were comfortable with, so it sometimes came down to just doing half-days, which is an unusual way to film. There were also times when I couldn’t be there, but fortunately I had some amazing people who understood what and how I wanted to film. That was also how I was able to manage my own life.”
Yes, what started out as a “six-month” project ended up taking 18. “The beauty about being a cinema verite-style filmmaker is you are following somebody through a period of their life and life isn’t going to necessarily tell you how long that’s going to be, but that’s almost something you try to estimate and then you have to go with it.
“It became about stretching every tiny little penny and dollar that you have. We ended up doing a Kickstarter campaign so we had money to finish filming, finish editing and get us through that hump in the middle.”
As she spent more time with the pair and their family (children Jesse and Indigo and both sets of parents), Foster says she was struck by a couple of profound things. “Just their ability to both manifest destiny – make a plan and go for it – and, at the same time, be ‘in the moment’. That’s a really difficult thing to do and I found it really remarkable that they could walk that fine line and that was their way of being and living.”
She was also entranced by the “real, irrepressible” love story she was witnessing. “It even inspired by to go and watch the movie Love Story again. It also, more importantly, gave me a focus for the film. I thought if I could capture their way of living and that love story, as well as the progressing story following them all on this journey together, then all the little, subtle things we were capturing would add up to a terrific film.”
It’s a view now shared by many who have seen it, with Be Here Now picking up the audience award for best documentary feature at last year’s Los Angeles Film Festival (a title it shared with South African sports tale I Am Thalente).
“That was such a gift,” Foster says of the accolade. “The reason we did it was to inspire people, so when I went up to receive the award, I literally looked up and said ‘wow, your story is starting to do what you wanted it to do’. It couldn’t have been more of a rewarding feeling, especially as audiences were the ones who voted for it. I still get a little choked up when I think about it.”
This week’s Documentary Edge Film Festival debut screening in Wellington, which Foster will attend, marks the first time Be Here Now has been screened outside the US. It recently had its theatrical premiere in New York and has been used a fundraiser for various cancer research organisations across the United States. Many more screenings have already been set up through crowd-sourcing platform Tugg.com, something Foster hopes might also allow New Zealanders all around the country to see the film.
“Everyone who comes to see this has gotten something different out of it, depending on what they were bringing to the theatre that night. I do hope people go away inspired to do something they’ve always wanted to do in their life. Whether that is become an airline pilot, a violinist, call their grandma, go on a date, or spend a day with their kids.
“As a filmmaker, I firmly believe there are universalities that we all share, no matter what language we speak, or continent we live on. Life boils down to a few things – love, families, work, health, security and something outside of ourselves. I believe this touches on all of those things and brings us closer to each other.”
The opening night film for the Documentary Edge Film Festival, Be Here Now will screen at 8pm on Wednesday night at The Roxy Cinema (Lilibet Foster and Vashti Whitfield will be in attendance), as well as 4.30pm on May 14. For more information, see docedge.nz
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Spartacus TV actor Andy Whitfield dies at 39
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionAndy Whitfield, the British star of US TV drama Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
Andy Whitfield, the British star of US TV drama Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died at the age of 39.
Whitfield died on Sunday in Sydney, Australia, 18 months after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, his family and manager said.
His wife, Vashti, described him as “our beautiful young warrior”.
Whitfield was born in North Wales and moved to Australia in 1999. Actor Liam McIntyre took over Whitfield’s role in the TV series when he became ill.
“On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with lymphoma cancer,” his wife said in a statement.
‘Courage and strength’
“He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have helped carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was.”
Chris Albrecht, president and chief operating officer of US TV network Starz, said he was “deeply saddened” by Whitfield’s loss.
“We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in Spartacus and came to know that the man who played a champion on-screen was also a champion in his own life,” Albrecht said in a statement.
“Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength and grace,” he added.
Whitfield played the title role in all 13 episodes of the first series, screened in 2010, and was about to shoot the second series when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Spartacus, which attracted media attention in the US for its graphic scenes of sex and violence, was first seen in the UK on the now defunct Bravo channel before moving to Sky One.
In an interview with the Deadline Hollywood website last year, Whitfield said having cancer had taught him some important lessons.
“After the initial shock – I was a healthy young man and had no idea this could happen – it was frustrating that the first season was ending on such a high note.”
But he added he then found “time to heal, figure things out and spend time with my family. Stay in the now and enjoy every moment.”
Whitfield’s Spartacus co-star Lucy Lawless also paid tribute to the actor in a statement to EW:
“Andy Whitfield left an indelible mark on all of us in the Spartacus family,” she said. “He was a gentle man who never said a bad word about anyone, a gifted photographer, engineer (no really!) and a brilliant actor.
“How lucky we were to have him grace all our lives. Godspeed, Andy!”
Actor Whitfield’s death raises questions about Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Andy Whitfield, the star of the television series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” died on the weekend at the age of 39.
The death of the Welsh actor, who lived in Australia, has drawn attention to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the disease that killed him.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
What is Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
It’s the most common cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is the network of organs, ducts and nodes that dispenses immune cells that help the body fight off infection and disease.
There are more than 20 types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cells of the different types look different under a microscope, and they develop and spread differently. Some spread quickly while others spread slowly.
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Who is susceptible?
It affects people of all ages but it is the most common childhood cancer. The cause has not been determined but it’s thought that a family history of the disease, the pre-existence of an autoimmune disease and exposure to certain environmental chemicals are contributing factors.
What are signs and symptoms?
The most common symptom is swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck; underarm or groin area. Other symptoms include, chills, fever and, lack of energy and weight loss. In some cases, itchy skin is a symptom.
It’s important to keep in mind that the above symptoms are often not caused by non-Hodgkins lymphoma. A diagnosis can only be made through testing.
What is treatment?
At the moment, there are four treatment options: chemotherapy, radiation, medications that boost the immune system and radio immunotherapy medications, through which monoclonal antibodies transport radioactive materials directly to cancer cells.
What is prognosis?
The prognosis can be promising but it depends on several factors, including the type of lymphoma, the extent of spread and response to therapy. The five-year survival rate ranges from 64 to 81 per cent.
Andy Whitfield’s Death: Fans React to the ‘Spartacus’ Star Losing Battle With Lymphoma
After he succumbs to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma Sunday, people paid tribute on Twitter.
After former Spartacus star Andy Whitfield succumbed to his battle with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on Sunday night at age 39, fans took to Twitter to pay tribute.
The actor was diagnosed just 18 months ago while preparing for the second season of the Starz series; he was later replaced with actor Liam McIntyre with Whitfield’s blessing.
STORY: Andy Whitfield’s Death: Hollywood Pays Tribute to Former ‘Spartacus’ Star
Online outpouring of grief included:
Sam_Oliver46 Samantha Oliver
RIP Andy Whitfield #aussie
Dzurdza Dunia Duranowich
RIP Andy Whitfield.. 🙁 such good actor.. long live andy’s spartacus.. 🙁
PHOTOS: Hollywood’s Notable Deaths
_Rraonllhy Rara Arista Mandala
RIP Andy Whitfield o:’) hope you with god :’) we love you andy ..
‘Spartacus’ Star Andy Whitfield Dies Of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma At 39. So Sad.
amelorain a’me lorain
I can’t believe Andy Whitfield passed. He was a very very very sweet person. 🙁
Chris_Foster81 Chris Foster
spartacus star Andy Whitfield death with non-Hodgkin lymphoma 11 September 09-11 R.I.P
STORY: Liam McIntyre to Replace Andy Whitfield on ‘Spartacus’
Tensei_Johnson Johnson osayande
Ohhhh tragic sparatacus main actor&Andy Whitfield is dead at age 39. 18 months after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Thelittlestboho Miss Von Trapp
This is so sad BBC News – Spartacus TV actor Andy Whitfield dies at 39 bbc.in/mXnXhV
Gaaaffney Jonathan Gaffney
Andy Whitfield, star of ‘Spartacus,’ dies of lymphoma. Absolutely terrible news.. #Willbemissed #Spartacus
VIDEO: New ‘Spartacus’ Star Liam McIntyre Makes Debut Appearance
derpingaround Utku Gürol
the bringer of rain, the slayer of the shadow of death, CHAMPION OF CAPUA! rest in peace, Andy Whitfield.
VicGladwin Victoria Gladwin
Devastated to hear about Andy Whitfield :o(
Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht said he and his network colleagues are “deeply saddened” over the news.
STORY: Andy Whitfield Not Returning to ‘Spartacus’
“We were fortunate to have worked with Andy in Spartacus and came to know that the man who played a champion onscreen was also a champion in his own life,” Albrecht said. ” Andy was an inspiration to all of us as he faced this very personal battle with courage, strength and grace. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. He will live on in the hearts of his family, friends and fans.”
Whitfield’s wife Vashti in a statement called her husband a “beautiful young warrior” who died on a “sunny Sydney morning” in the “arms of his loving wife.”
Whitfield — who was born in Wales and lived in Australia — was a virtual unknown when he was cast as the title hero in Spartacus, a hit original series that made waves with its graphic violence and sexuality.
Wasn’t Spartacus’ Andy Whitfield Supposed to Be Cancer-Free?
Things seemed to be equally OK in July. During Comic-Con, Whitfield’s former Spartacus producer told the crowd that the actor was doing well and even mulling collaboration on a fresh project, “a project in which he wouldn’t have to take his clothes off,” according to the Orlando Sentinel, who quoted producer Steven S. DeKnight.
Sadly, the enthusiasm was premature.
Oncologists tell me that this particular kind of cancer is infamous for simply disappearing off the radar, only to return with even more strength and virulence.
“What happens is that there are just a few cells left,” explains Dr. Bruce Cheson, head of hematology at Georgetown University Hospital and chairman of the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s scientific advisory board. “Scanners have a limit of resolution below which those cells can’t be picked up.” For example, a PET scan has about a 90-ish percent “negative predictive value.” That means that, 5 or 10 percent of the time, “the scan misses it, because the cancer is too small to be picked up.”
The cells that do remain under the radar are often very resistant to treatment, says Dr. Elena Gitelson, medical oncologist with the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University.
“About 99.9 percent of the cancer could be dead, but the rest is dormant,” she explains. “Those remaining cells will have acquired new genetic abnormalities and become more aggressive, and grow even faster.”
We can’t be sure that this is what happened with Whitfield, but it’s not unlikely.
If you want to know more about non-Hodgkins lymphoma, including how you can support people fighting the disease, there’s no better time than now: September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
When Spartacus star Andy Whitfield was battling cancer in the last months of his life, he had a camera crew with him every step of the way. The result is Be Here Now, a feature-length documentary project about the late actor, which is launching a campaign to raise money for its completion.
Related: R.I.P. Andy Whitfield
Whitfield was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after wrapping the first season of Starz’s Spartacus, a role that would make him a global star. He went through a rigorous program of chemotherapy and was deemed as being in remission when, during a physical to return to Spartacus, his blood tests raised a flag, resulting in a devastating news for the actor — his cancer had come back stronger than ever, leaving him with about a 25% chance of survival. Facing another round of treatments, Whitfield and his wife Vashti decided to have it all documented. “Our last experience with it was very difficult and lonely, we felt we had a lot of questions,” Whitfield’s manager Sam Maydew recalls the actor and his wife telling him back then. “We want to bring awareness to cancer treatment so others who go through it feel they’re not alone.” Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Lilibet Foster (Speaking In Strings), whose family hails from the same small Welsh town where Whitfield was raised, came on board. She spent the next year with Whitfield and his family as the actor went through grueling rounds of chemo and traveled to India for a shot at an Eastern medicine treatment.
When the cancer returned, Whitfield and his wife got matching Be Here Now tattoos Foster says symbolized the fact that “they would take the healing in their own hands” and also provided the title for her documentary. “Andy and Vashti allowed unprecedented openness and access, with the camera following them through one of the hardest periods of their lives,” Foster said. “At the same time, there is a love story in the film with the two of them, and Andy’s inspirational approach to healing cancer makes it very uplifting. It’s very beautiful, poetic and inspirational film.” The crew filmed until a week before Whitfield’s death in September of last year. They have done additional shooting and have a little more to go, along with editing and post-production. The team needs about $200,000 to complete the film and is reaching out to Whitfield’s fans.
“The reason is that so many of Andy’s followers live on the Internet, and this is a way to give them an opportunity to be part of the making of the film,” Foster said. Be Here Now‘s team have set up a that could be as little as $1. Depending on the size of the contribution, fans will receive custom leather bracelets engraved with the words Be Here Now, collectables from Spartacus, a phone chat with Whitfield’s Spartacus co-star and friend Jai Courtney, a signed photo of him and Whitfield, dog tags like those Whitfield once wore, and a never released portrait of the actor, among other items. Some of the items were provided by Starz, which has been supportive of the project, including allowing official and behind-the-scenes footage from Spartacus to be used in the documentary. “This is a way for us to give an opportunity to the public to bring Andy’s story to live and fulfill his wishes to have his legacy live on,” Foster said.
Below is a trailer for the documentary introduced by Courtney. For a link to the Be Here Now website where fans can make contributions, click here.