By Michael Ausiello
Updated October 04, 2010 at 07:58 PM EDT

That this was inevitable doesn’t make it any less sad: Starz has officially started looking for an actor to replace Andy Whitfield on Spartacus.

According to the just-released casting notice, producers are searching for a Caucasian male in his mid to late 30s to play the “smart, intense, passionate” title role. Interested parties must have an authentic British accent and be prepared to sign a three-year contract.

Whitfield was forced to bow out of the show’s second season after doctors advised him to resume “aggressive treatment” for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Last week, exec producer Steven S. DeKnight told me that the production would either “close up shop or recast.” It looks like they’re moving forward with the latter.

My two cents: No one can replace Andy Whitfield. But the person who probably comes closest is Grant Bowler.