Liam McIntyre

Liam McIntyre, an Australian actor who starred in HBO's The Pacific, has been tapped to replace Andy Whitfield in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Starz announced Monday.

McIntyre, 28, steps into the role after Whitfield was forced to drop out after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Production on the Starz series was initially halted in March. After his cancer resurfaced, Whitfield was forced to drop out to resume aggressive treatment.

Starz moving forward with second season of Spartacus, "very confident" in recasting

"Since no one can really replace Andy, we realized that we should instead find an actor who can truly lead Spartacus forward," Starz President Chris Albrecht said. "It was important to us to have Andy endorse the idea of recasting this part, which he did in the same heroic manner that he's dealt with his whole ordeal. And that, coupled with our fortune in finding a young actor with the gladiator credentials and the acting ability of Liam, makes it easier for us to keep this hit franchise going."

Production on the second season of Spartacus is slated to resume by spring. Starz will air the prequel series, titled Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, starting Friday at 10/9c.