Andy Whitfield doesn't often look at "Spartacus" sites or message boards -- as is the case with many actors, he thinks reading the opinions of others can be a distraction.
But when he heard how thousands of fans were wishing him well as he fought cancer, he made an exception. In an interview conducted before the show's San Diego Comic-Con panel on Friday, he talking about reading the fans' messages of support.
"I was literally blown away," he said.
The outpouring of good will and the stories that other survivors shared online really did help him during a dark time, he said: "It really made a difference."
In the three interview clips below, he talks about what his character will be doing in the 6-episode prequel that airs early next year on Starz, and and he also talks about the show's second season. He said his character will be "bookending" the prequel: The Spartacus that we saw at the end of Season 1 will appear in the first and last episodes and will act as a bridge to the events depicted in those episodes, which are set about five years earlier and take place in Batiatus' ludus.
As for Whitfield's health, he's feeling fine. "I forget that I had cancer," he said. He's begun working out again in preparation for filming his prequel scenes in October (the rest of the prequel cast starts work in a week or so).
When he does return to work on "Spartacus," it will be with a new sense of energy and commitment, the actor said.
"I was forced to sit still," Whitfield said of his battle with cancer, which gave him "a chance to let go of things that don't necessarily serve you."
"I'm experiencing a fearlessness I never had before," he said. "And I just can't wait to see how that translates to work. You know, I could get there before, but now I think it's going to be more accessible…. It just makes you connect more and be more present, and that's kind of what acting's all about."
There are three interview clips with Whitfield below; the first two are from a one-on-one interview that took place before the "Spartacus" panel. The third is from a group discussion with the actor in the Comic-Con press room.
In these clips, he talks about Spartacus as "a beast of emotion," as a reluctant leader, the show's distinctive dialogue and the strict training and diet regimen he has to follow when he's shooting (the motivations there are "half fear, half vanity," he said with a laugh).
Before the clips, I've posted the audio of the entire "Spartacus" panel, which featured Whitfield, executive producer Steven S. DeKnight, John Hannah, Lucy Lawless and Viva Bianco.
The audio and video clips below assume that you have seen the first season of "Spartacus." Enjoy!
Spartacus Comic-Con panel
Andy Whitfield interview, Part 1
Andy Whitfield interview, Part 2
Andy Whitfield interview, Part 3