Nothing about this story sounds like good news for fans of the hit Starz show, Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
It’s being reported that the network has begun reaching out to various casting directors in an attempt to see if they can find someone that could replace star Andy Whitfield on the show.
Whitfield, for those who don’t yet know, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a while back, which delayed production on season 2, understandably. While waiting for their star to make a full recovery, Starz decided to make a 6-part prequel series this past summer, in which Whitfield, who seemed to be on the path to recovery, was set to make a small appearance. The prequel series is set to air in January, but it’s unclear whether said small appearance was still included or not.
Sadly, Mr. Whitfield has had an unexpected turn for the worst, and now requires a second aggressive treatment for his sickness, meaning even more of a delay. As much as every cast, crew, and executive involved in this show wants the actor to return, it’s also understandable that this is a business and the longer the delay is, the more damage it could do to the popularity of this, one of the network’s most successful series.
Whitfield himself is even said to be behind getting the show moving again, even if it requires re-casting his character. And if this difficult decision is made, Starz has already made it very clear that they intend to keep Whitfield employed with them and have him working on the show in some aspect.
At the moment, it looks like Starz has a few options here as well. It would be risky, but they could decide to cast someone in a different role, to become another central figure to build the show around. Then there’s the worst case scenario option: cancel Spartacus: Blood and Sand all together and not risk re-casting. Lastly, they could just decide to wait as long as it takes to get Whitfield healthy and back in action. Sources say that a decision is expected to be made in the next eight weeks.
As a huge fan of the show, I really don’t like the idea of re-casting. Whitfield was too good and too pivotal to find a completely different person to step into the role. If I had a vote in the matter, I’d say wait as long as they need to wait for the actor to be given his clean bill of health, and then move forward. Unfortunately, a lot of workers are involved here, and it’s really hard for them to accept new jobs while unsure of the future of Spartacus.
I do also like the idea of bringing in a new actor as an important character and build something around them. But instead of turning it into the main storyline, maybe do an entire season dedicated to this character as a side storyline. By the time that’s completed, hopefully, Andy Whitfield would be healthy as ever and then they could jump into season 3, merging the storylines of their first two seasons together. If the delay is as long as it seems to be looking, this idea makes the most sense, but I’m not familiar with the outlines they have in place and the current state of the production, and this might not be something that’s doable for them.
Obviously, the most important thing here is that Whitfield makes a full recovery. Anything other than that is not important in comparison. Nevertheless, Starz has some hard decisions to make, and I for one really hope that whatever they do, the actor will be able to return when he’s well enough to.
If you’re a fan of the show, what would you like to see happen? Would you be willing to wait as long as it takes, or are you so itchy for more Spartacus that you’d be okay with a new actor in the role? Is there another option you think would work best?