24 Years After Mega-Hit, Gladiator Sequel is in Production in UK with Unexpected Actor in Lead Role | FRIDAY DIGITAL

24 Years After Mega-Hit, Gladiator Sequel is in Production in UK with Unexpected Actor in Lead Role

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Russell Crowe, starring in ‘Gladiator’ during filming (left), with director Ridley Scott (’00).

A sequel to the historical epic film ‘Gladiator,’ starring Russell Crowe (’00), titled ‘Gladiator 2,’ is currently in production. According to the UK newspaper Daily Mail (online edition), it is scheduled for release this November.

In the previous film, set during the Roman Empire, General Maximus Decimus Meridius (Crowe), who led the Roman army to victory over the Germanic tribes, becomes embroiled in a conflict with Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) and his son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). His family is murdered, and Maximus himself is reduced to the status of a slave.

Maximus vows to seek revenge against Commodus, who seized the emperor’s throne, while engaging in deadly battles as a gladiator to approach Commodus.

The film had a production budget of $130 million (approximately ¥16.48 billion) and grossed $465 million (approximately ¥74.4 billion) worldwide. It won five Academy Awards at the 73rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe. In Japan, it was also a hit, grossing ¥15.6 billion.

Continuing from the previous film, renowned director Ridley Scott, known for ‘Alien’ (1979), ‘Blade Runner’ (1982), and ‘Napoleon’ (’23), takes the helm.

The sequel is set after the death of Maximus (Crowe) in the first film, focusing on Lucius, the son of Maximus’ former lover, Lucilla (Connie Nielsen).

Connie Nielsen reprises her role as Lucilla, and Derek Jacobi returns as Gracchus, a former senator, from the previous film. Denzel Washington joins the cast as a wealthy arms merchant who was once a slave and harbors a deep hatred for the emperor.

Given the high expectations for this anticipated epic, much attention worldwide is on who will star in the lead role of Lucius, a gladiator in the Roman Empire era.

“In the casting process for the sequel’s lead role of Lucius, contenders included Austin Butler from ‘Elvis’ (’22) and Richard Madden from ‘Rocketman’ (’19). Miles Teller, known for ‘Whiplash’ (’14) and ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ (’22), was also considered.

Amidst these considerations, 28-year-old Irish actor Paul Mescal, who gained attention and was nominated for Best Actor at the 95th Academy Awards for ‘aftersun’ (’22), secured the lead role.” (Reporter for a women’s magazine)

Director Scott reportedly watched the entire TV miniseries ‘Normal People’ (’20), starring Mescal, and felt he had the potential to become a presence similar to Crowe in the first film, leading to his selection for the lead role.

Filming took place in Hove, East Sussex, UK, where the grounds were prepared for battle scenes. Actors were seen riding horses and running through fields in combat attire.

Mescal was seen wearing a costume resembling the gladiators of the Roman Empire era, similar to what Crowe portrayed in the first film, adorned with blood and bruises in makeup, indicating filming of combat scenes.

Twenty-four years after the blockbuster success of the first film, the sequel ‘Gladiator 2,’ starring Mescal, raises anticipation about what kind of film it will be and its potential involvement in the Academy Awards.

  • Text Ryo Sakamoto (Writer, former head of the Culture and Society Department of "Tokyo Sports Newspaper")

    Currently writes articles on entertainment, movies, Hollywood information, etc. for the web magazine "PlusαToday" and other publications. Member of the Japan Film Pen Club.

  • PHOTO Everett Collection/Afro

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