The actor, who rose to fame as the chiseled titular gladiator in Starz smash hit series "Spartacus," passed away last September after a brave battle with stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"On a beautiful sunny Sydney ... 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," Vashti Whitfield, his wife, said in a statement.
Fans of the series (myself included) were gutted over the loss of Whitfield — a young man who was not only a loving father and husband, but also a rising star in Hollywood. That he was one of the fittest actors to grace the television screen was also shocking, and yet another reminder of the awful realities of cancer.
But Whitfield, like so many others, was not one to go down without a fight. It's a battle he knew could give strength to others in similar circumstances — and so, unbeknownst to many, he invited award-winning documentary maker Lilibet Foster to capture the final months of his life.
"This unprecedented access and his openness and honesty gives the audience an intimate look into his personal life, that is rarely shared, especially by a celebrity," says the campaign website. "It was Andy’s hope that by opening his story up to a documentary, he might help or inspire others facing similar challenges, while pushing to accelerate the pace of cancer research around the world."
The film's title "Be Here Now" is named after the matching tattoos Andy and Vashti decided to get. "It was our way of saying that whatever happened, we would live in the moment," Vashti tells The Daily Mail.
"Be Here Now" follows Whitfield's cancer fight for more than a year, documenting the ups and very dark downs of the journey. "We did video diaries. We have a man crying, 'I'm terrified I'm going to die and I have to leave my children,'" his wife tells People magazine. But while the story is tragic, the intention is not to depress, but to inspire and impart lessons of living life well, no matter the ending.
From the campaign: "What he did not anticipate was that the story would also capture his, and his family’s, determination, love, infectious humor and self-affirming attitudes. And, as everyone goes through their own transformations over the course of the film, 'Be Here Now' transcends the subject of cancer and becomes a universal life-lesson about living fearlessly, going for your dreams, embracing each moment and living in the present — despite the potential outcome."
In starting a kickstarter campaign, the film's producers set $200,000 as the absolute minimum needed to finance the rest of the film's development and submit it to festivals. It's a testament to Whitfield's legacy that they're less than $20,000 away from their goal — and still have more than 27 days of fundraising to go.
"In my heart, I am convinced that this is all meant to be," Whitfield says in the documentary. "And I'm open to the journey and to the discoveries and to the adventure of all of this. 'Be Here Now' is all about being present and not fearing what you don't know."
To make a donation to the project and help see it through to completion, please click here. A trailer for the documentary is below.
[Update 06/26: The fundraiser just passed over $200K! Congrats to the filmmakers on achieving their goal!]
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