After years of anticipation, Gladiator 2 is finally happening, and many seem excited over the prospect of another Ridley Scott-directed historical drama set to the backdrop of ancient Rome. Viewers won’t see Russell Crowe’s Maximus leading the narrative, though, for reasons obvious to those who’ve seen the hit 2000 film. Taking over as the lead will be Lucius, who’s played by rising star Paul Mescal. The actor certainly has some big shoes to fill as leading man, and one may wonder if he’s reached out to Crowe for guidance. Well, Mescal hasn’t felt compelled to do that, and he explained just why.
It goes without saying that Russell Crowe received worldwide acclaim for his performance in the original film. The physicality and complexities he brought to Maximus were impeccable and, for his efforts, Crowe received the Oscar for Best Actor. All in all, his role in the Best Picture winner essentially solidified him as a Hollywood heavyweight. With all of that in mind, one would think Paul Mescal would be somewhat intimidated by the thought of meeting with him. Based on the comments he shared with Esquire, nervousness doesn’t seem to be what’s driving his hesitation, however. It seems it more so has to do with the nature of Mescal’s role:
I don’t know what we would talk about. Like, I’d love to hear his stories from filming, but the character is, like, totally separate.
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That line of thinking is understandable, as it wouldn’t make sense for him to reach out if there aren’t many commonalities between the two characters. At the very least though, I’d still reach out to the A Beautiful Mind star just to hear some sweet-behind-the-scenes stories. It may be best that the Aftersun star doesn’t hit up Russell Crowe, because he’s received a lot of Gladiator 2 questions already. Crowe, in his humorous way, actually dropped an F-bomb over having to field so many queries even though he knows nothing about the movie. He’s also not entertained over the notion of not being a part of it, but he seems confident that Ridley Scott will tell another compelling tale.
Lucius – the son of Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla – was introduced as a child in the first movie. In it, he idolized the late Maximus, who died following his fateful fight with Commodus. Little is known about Lucius’ standing by the events of the sequel, though there are plenty of rumors flying. Because Paul Mescal has been working out and eating well amid production, some believe his character will gear up to fight in the coliseum at some point. As mentioned by Esquire, it’s even rumored that Lucius will be revealed as Maximus’ illegitimate son. Don’t expect Mescal to confirm anything though, as he tip-toed around that question while sharing a non-spoilery take on the sequel:
Nawp! … I can’t tell you how stressed I am talking about that film in particular, because it’s definitely the biggest one I’ve done. I feel really excited, but, like, it’s difficult to get away from the legacy of the film a bit. I think it’s really well written and it pays homage to the first one, but it’s very much something that I think I can step into and make comfortably my own.
Despite the intense level of secrecy surrounding the production, there are details we do know about Gladiator 2. Ridley Scott has assembled a stacked cast that includes Denzel Washington and Pedro Pascal. The film, which picks up decades after its predecessor, will also include a few legacy characters. Specifically, Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla, Derek Jacobi’s Gracchus and Djimon Hounsou’s Juba.
The historical epic is currently still slated for release on November 22 as part of the 2024 movie schedule. That wait could end up being even longer depending on how long the Hollywood strikes last. In the meantime, I’d be curious to see whether Paul Mescal and Russell Crowe do get in contact or ever cross paths. And when the blockbuster finally opens, I’d love to know if Crowe sees it and whether he’s left entertained.
In the meantime, you can stream Gladiator using a Prime Video subscription.