Nick Cave, the Australian rocker and occasional screenwriter and composer, once wrote a screenplay for the sequel to "Gladiator," Russell Crowe's Oscar-winning action movie set in ancient Rome. This screenplay has become the stuff of legend, since it was so flatly rejected and nothing ever became of the project. It was rumored to contain fantasy elements, as a way of bringing Crowe's deceased Maximus back from the dead, but few specifics ever emerged -- until now.
While speaking with Marc Maron on the comedian's "WTF" podcast (via Clash Music), Cave revealed the circumstances of his getting hired by fellow countryman Crowe. "[Crowe] rang me up and asked if I wanted to write 'Gladiator 2,'" he began. "For someone who had only written one film script, it was quite an ask. 'Hey, Russell, didn't you die in 'Gladiator 1'?' 'Yeah, you sort that out.'"
Cave sorted it out, all right, and his solution was unique. "So, [Maximus] goes down to purgatory and is sent down by the gods, who are dying in heaven because there's this one god, there's this Christ character, down on Earth who is gaining popularity and so the many gods are dying so they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and his followers," he explained.
"I wanted to call it 'Christ Killer,'" he continued. "And in the end you find out that the main guy was his son so he has to kill his son and he was tricked by the gods. He becomes this eternal warrior and it ends with this 20-minute war scene which follows all the wars in history, right up to Vietnam and all that sort of stuff and it was wild. It was a stone-cold masterpiece. I enjoyed writing it very much because I knew on every level that it was never going to get made. Let's call it a popcorn dropper."
A popcorn dropper indeed. What do you think the general response would have been had "Christ Killer" been the follow-up to the critically acclaimed crowd-pleaser? If only Crowe had been as fearless when it came to making the sequel as he was when hiring Cave.
If you want to read the "stone-cold masterpiece," you don't have to look too far.