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Why It Took 23 Years For Gladiator 2 To Happen, According To Ridley Scott

Russell Crowe holding sword in Gladiator

It’s been 23 years since Ridley Scott‘s epic historical drama Gladiator wowed audiences worldwide. Starring Russell Crowe as the valiant Maximus Decimus Meridius, the film immersed viewers in ancient Rome’s brutal world, where honor, vengeance, and epic battles reigned supreme. The historical flick resonated with audiences and critics, earning a collective thumbs up and five Academy Awards (including Best Picture) solidifying it and Crowe’s place in cinematic history. Despite the apparent desire for a sequel, nearly two decades passed without any progress on a follow-up to one of the best movies of the 2000s. In a recent interview, Scott clarified why the highly anticipated historical action flick Gladiator 2 took so long to materialize.

In a recent exclusive interview with our sister site, Total Film, the Alien filmmaker shed some light on the extended delay. According to Ridley, the road to bringing a sequel to life took a lot of work and perfect timing. He said:

Why now? It didn’t have a script [before]. We tried, actually, four years ago, and I chose a very good writer who couldn’t get his head around it. He wrestled. He was terribly upset that he didn’t deliver. He’s a friend of mine. I said, ‘You’re not getting there?’ He said, ‘No.’

Scott’s candid revelation highlights the challenges of crafting a sequel that lives up to the original film’s monumental legacy and the director’s commitment to quality storytelling. The filmmaker continued explaining the process that ultimately led to the green light of the second chapter of his historical epic, saying:

That took 10 months. So it went dead. And then we circled the wagons again, coming back with a very obvious idea, and why not? There’s a survivor. The survivor is the son of the union between Lucilla and Maximus.

Oscar-nominee Paul Mescal leads the all-star cast of Gladiator 2 in the role of Lucius Verus. Mescal, known for his breakout performance in 2020’s Normal People, has garnered critical acclaim for his work in films like The Lost Daughter and Aftersun, earning him a Best Actor nomination for the latter. In the original Russell Crowe starring historical drama, Lucius was portrayed by a young Spencer Treat Clark. He was the son of Maximus’ lover Lucilla and idolized Maximus. It’s worth noting that the upcoming movie will feature a 25-year time jump.

Production for the sequel commenced last summer, with David Scarpa penning the script. Scarpa recently collaborated with the Prometheus director on the 2023 movie release of his biopic Napoleon starring Joaquin Phoenix, a role Phoenix landed thanks to Scott’s admiration for his Joker performance despite his admitted dislike of the film itself. Gladiator 2 is scheduled for release as part of the 2024 movie lineup.

Ridley Scott’s next historical drama, Napoleon, is set to release on November 22 and streaming soon after for everyone with an Apple TV+ subscription. Based on the movie’s first look and trailer, Joaquin Phoenix has turned in another powerhouse performance.

Though Russell Crowe isn’t in the upcoming sequel, a detail he’s not super happy about, you can revisit his star-making turn in the beloved original film, streaming with a Netflix subscription.

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