Director Ridley Scott talked about resuming production on Gladiator 2. Scott's Napoleon — starring Gladiator actor Joaquin Phoenix as the titular French leader — premieres in Paris tonight.
Deadline reports that Ridley Scott has 90 minutes of fully edited Gladiator 2 footage in the can and needs about 90 minutes more. He expects to resume shooting the movie starring Paul Mescal, Denzel Washington, Joseph Quinn, Fred Hechinger, Pedro Pascal, Connie Nielsen (pictured), Djimon Hounsou, and Derek Jacobi — the latter three reprising their roles from 2000's Gladiator — within the next two weeks.
Ridley Scott sees Phoenix's Commodus in Gladiator as a sympathetic character, which might surprise fans who love to hate the villainous character. “I saw him as the most sympathetic character of all in Gladiator,” says Scott to Deadline. “He was a product of neglect, total neglect of a father that he adored. Then finally in the film, the father would say, I’m going to neglect you even further. You will not be the prince of Rome. And then the father realizes in his old age that he needs some form of absolute. So he does something fatal. He kneels before the boy asking for forgiveness. That was fatal because the boy has never seen his father ask for that kind of close discussion. So he suffocates him. So from that moment on, I thought Joaquin was the most sympathetic person during the movie. What he did and what followed, what came out of it, the nature of it had been created by his father.”
Scott continues that at the end of Gladiator, both Commodus and Maximus (Russell Crowe) are victims. “Don’t forget, Maximus is the person who didn’t want it,” says Scott. “He wanted to go home. Interesting how things evolve when Marcus Aurelius first meets him, he said, I want you to be ticked, take over, or to be the prince of Rome, surrogate principal Rome. I can’t do that. Why not? Because my home, my wife, our kid. Tell me about your home. So then he start telling him about it, and what he’s actually talking about is Heaven. That’s where he wants to be. And so it all worked backwards and some of it wasn’t planned. Marcus says, it sounds like a place worth fighting for.
“And then Marcus is that day assassinated by his son. Then Russell’s character is suddenly told that this has happened and he’s not going to join the club and he knows there’s a problem. His wife and son are then slaughtered and we see where they’re in that avenue of trees where they are coming up to get rid of them. When Russell dies and goes to Heaven, we go see the same woman and child; it’s the place he described to Marcus.”
Ridley Scott Says That a Gladiator Sequel “Started to Spell Itself Out as an Obvious Thing to Do”
Gladiator won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Crowe. The Academy must have thought that the movie directed itself because, although nominated, Ridley Scott did not win Best Director that year. When Deadline asked Ridley Scott what motivated him to make a Gladiator sequel, Scott said:
“Well, economically, it makes sense. That always begins there. I thought the [first] film was, as it were, completely satisfactory, creatively complete, so why muck with it, right? But these cycles keeps going on and 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. The hardest thing is getting the footprint right with the writer. There was a very obvious way to go, which was who’s the survivor? Well, the survivor could be Connie, Marcus’ daughter, but what’s even more interesting, and therefore a double whammy, there’s the son. Whatever happened to him? It became about that, and that’s Paul Mescal. It’s 20 years on. That was harder than casting Russell as Maximus, that was more obvious.”
In Gladiator 2, Denzel Washington plays a former slave turned wealthy man who harbors a grudge against the emperors. Ridley Scott says about Washington's character, “There’s a parallel character, the owner of a business that supplied weapons for the Romans, who supplied the oil when they traveled, who supplied the wine they drink. They wouldn’t drink water, they drank wine. When they traveled, who would supply wagons and horses and tack? There had to be the arms dealers of the period; here is a man who already rich from supplying the weapons, the catapults. His hobby is like a racing stable except it’s gladiators. He’s got a stable of 30 or 40 gladiators. He likes to actually see them fight and it evolves that that’s where he came from. He was captured in North Africa, and evolved into a free man because he was a good gladiator. But he hides that because also he’s now realizing the potential of his actual power. He’s wealthier than most senators, so already has thoughts and designs of the possible idea of taking power from these two crazy princes.”
Gladiator 2‘s scheduled release date is November 22, 2024.
Robert DeSalvo is a professional writer and editor with over 25 years of experience at print and online publications such as Movieline, Playboy, PCH, Fandango, and The A.V. Club. He currently lives in Los Angeles, the setting of his favorite movie, Blade Runner. Robert has interviewed dozens of actors, directors, authors, musicians, and other celebrities during his journalism career, including Brian De Palma, Nicolas Cage, Dustin Hoffman, John Waters, Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Anne Rice, and many more. Horror movies, sci-fi, cult films as well as gothic, postpunk, and synthwave music are what Robert geeks over.