"No words to express the depth of such a loss," 'Spartacus' creator Steven DeKnight said Sunday evening on Twitter. "You will be deeply missed, my brother."
According to a statement released to the AP by Whitfield's family, he died at home, "on a sunny Sydney morning, in the "arms of his loving wife." His wife Vashti called him a "beautiful young warrior."
Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma 18 months ago, and had been battling the disease since then. He had hoped to return to 'Spartacus' for the show's second season, but a recurrence of his illness prevented that.
Eventually he had to leave the role entirely, and, after the Starz made the prequel series 'Spartacus: Gods of the Arena' (in which Spartacus did not appear), Australian actor Liam McIntyre was cast in the lead role of the next full season of the show, 'Spartacus: Vengeance.'
At Comic-Con in 2010, Whitfield thought he'd still be returning to the show; he got a hero's welcome from fans, who had vociferously expressed their support for him since the news of his illness broke. No wonder: He'd grown as an actor before our eyes in that first season; his Spartacus was a compelling and charismatic man, one who grew more complex as the season wore on.
I was lucky enough to sit down with Whitfield for a one-on-one interview with Whitfield at that Comic-Con, and he struck me as a thoughtful man, one who was serene and positive, despite all he'd been through. He had that typical Australian light-hearted sense of humor, but there was a serious energy about him as well. I had very much hoped to see him return to the screen and share all those qualities with us again.
I'm sure I speak for all 'Spartacus' fans when I say that our hearts go out to his family and friends.