Ioane “John” King, the New Zealand-born actor who starred as the gladiator Rhaskos in Starz’s “Spartacus” series, has died following a battle with cancer, his family announced on Facebook. He was 49.
The actor starred in “Spartacus” from 2010 to 2013, and reprised his role in the prequel miniseries “Spartacus: Stars of the Arena.” The Stephen S. DeKnight show chronicles Spartacus’ journey from Roman gladiator to rebellion leader.
In a Facebook post, his family wrote that he “passed in the company of loving friends and family.”
“John leaves a big hole in this world, having been a wonderful husband, father, son, brother, friend and human being,” the post continued. “Those of us lucky to have met him will carry on with his legacy of kindness, positive influence, hard work and love.”
The actor had announced in January that he had been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma cancer, which spread to his pancreas and other organs, and started chemotherapy in March. According to a fundraising page created by his family, he learned of his terminal diagnosis six weeks after he and his wife, Christelle, moved into a new home.
His “Spartacus” co-star Manu Bennett, who played Crixus, posted a heartfelt tribute to King on Instagram.
“John had a long battle with cancer but faced that fight with dignity & a constant resolve not to be defeated,” the post began. “On Spartacus John was hired as an extra but with a powerful presence & ever positive attitude amongst the cast & crew, won himself the speaking role of Rhaskos. Fans may remember Rhaskos leading the song ‘My cock rages on!’ a defiant tune sung by gladiators after surviving the games.”
He continued, “I remember John most fondly for his huge grin & sparkle in his eye when he would welcome me & others onto set each day offering the Gladiatorial forearm handshake & acknowledging in his deep raspy voice, ‘Brother!’”
King’s death comes about a decade after Andy Whitfield, who starred as Spartacus, died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma at age 39.
According to the Daily Mail, a funeral service was held Friday in Auckland.