— -- Andy Whitfield, the breakout actor in the hit TV series, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand,” was in his prime when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The Welsh-born actor lost his battle with the disease in 2011, just 18 months after his initial diagnosis. He was 39, and left behind a wife and two young children.
Whitfield and his wife, Vashti, allowed cameras to roll on their family’s most personal journey during his illness. Their journey is documented in the film “Be Here Now (The Andy Whitfield Story).”
In a clip from the film, Whitfield said the cancer was “pretty extreme.”
“Andy was in his prime,” Vashti Whitfield told “Good Morning America” correspondent Abbie Boudreau. “He looked like an Adonis ... And he was this young, beautiful dad. And he had stage four roaring around, ripping inside of his body."
Whitfield also talked about what it was like to watch the film.
“It's a multitude of emotions,” she said. “The first thing that always occurs to me is, I get to hang out with Andy for a couple of hours. You know, to hear his voice and hear him chuckle and to be -- just shown/reminded what a force we were. You know, because he was my best friend.”
The film’s producer, Sam Maydew, said Andy Whitfield was “just letting his feelings kind of pour out. Like, this is the truth. This is the – there’s nothing but just straight truth right here.”
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lilibet Foster, who directed “Be Here Now,” said she hoped the documentary would bring awareness to cancer research. The director collaborated with organizations like The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Stand Up To Cancer and The Cancer Support Community.
“We hope this documentary is one of those that really kind of is like our shared human experience ... perhaps we've done what Andy wanted with the film,” she said, explaining that the actor wanted “to inspire people.”
Jai Courtney was Andy Whitfield’s friend and is the godfather to his children. The “Divergent” series actor was Whitfield’s co-star on “Spartacus,” and they were close offscreen.
“The trajectory he was on was pretty incredible ... it's tough to imagine there would have been a limit to what he could have achieved,” Courtney said of his friend.
Vashti Whitfield hopes her husband’s death leaves a lasting legacy.
“If he knew that he was inspiring people in that way, his departure was worthwhile,” she said. “And that's why he made the documentary. It was like he wanted to give purpose, knowing that this might be his last, you know, and very beautiful role."
“Be Here Now” opens nationwide on April 8.