The original is recognised as one of the best movies of the noughties well as a hit commercially. It won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe.
It told the story of Maximus Decimus Meridius, a Roman general betrayed by Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) following the death of previous Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Maximus survives an assassination attempt and is eventually sold into slavery before becoming a Gladiator inside the Roman Colosseum.
A sequel was confirmed in 2022, with Mescal in the lead role. The belief is that Gladiator 2 will focus on the character of Lucius from the first movie. The son of Lucilla and nephew of Commodus, he struck a bond with Maximus, who may or may not be his father.
Interestingly, Normal People is a grounded psychological romance drama, but Scott watched the entire series and was fascinated by Mescal.
"I'm always looking for someone, something new and fresh," the legendary director told Deadline.
"I mean, fresh is terribly important. So they're not carrying... baggage is a terrible word for what they've done before, because it's great stuff, but you will remember he just did this character already.
"I watched this show called Normal People. It's unusual for me, but I saw one and thought, that's interesting. These actors are really good, I watched the whole goddamn show and thought, damn.
"So this came up at a time when I need a 23-year-old, 24-year-old to take up the mantle of Lucius. And I just said, 'You want to do it?' He said, 'Yeah'."
Why did Ridley Scott decide to make Gladiator 2?
For many, Gladiator is a beloved movie that shouldn't be touched with a reboot or sequel, but Scott believes that enough time has passed that he can revisit that world.
And, it made sense to make another due to the money on the table, too.
"Well, economically, it makes sense. That always begins there," he explained.
"I thought the (first) film was, as it were, completely satisfactory, creatively complete, so why muck with it, right? But these cycles keep going on and on, they repeat globally for the last 20 years. It started to spell itself out as an obvious thing to do, and that's how it evolved."
Gladiator 2 stars Mescal, Connie Nielsen, Denzel Washington and Pedro Pascal.
History / Drama
2000 • 155 minutes