Denzel Washington in 'The Tragedy of Macbeth'

Denzel Washington in 'The Tragedy of Macbeth'

After years existing mostly as rumor about developments, Ridley Scott’s long-gestating sequel to 2000’s epic ‘Gladiator’ is turning into a truly exciting prospect because of the cast the director has been building.


"What we do in life echoes in eternity."
R2 hr 35 minMay 1st, 2000
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Chief among that cast, as revealed by Deadline today, is Denzel Washington, who has form with the director after playing real-life crime lord Frank Lucas in 2007’s ‘American Gangster’.

There is no word yet on who Washington will be playing in the new film, but the picky performer apparently had his interested piqued by the script, which features a reportedly “bad-ass” role for the actor. A follow-up meeting with Scott helped convince him further, and Washington is now locking in the final details of his deal to co-star alongside Paul Mescal and other recent new recruit Barry Keoghan.

Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator' (Photo by Karine Weinberger/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator' (Photo by Karine Weinberger/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

How does the new movie follow ‘Gladiator’?

While Maximus isn’t likely to show up –– short of CG-enhanced flashbacks since the character died in the original and went to a lush heavenly zone to reunite with his slaughtered family –– the story for the new movie, written by David Scarpa, follows Mescal as Lucius.

He, you may recall, was the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and the nephew of Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the son of Roman leader Marcus Aurelius who murdered his father and seized the throne. Commodus wound up in the gladiator ring with Maximus who, though mortally wounded, skewered the emperor before fading into the great. Maximus saved the Lucius and Lucilla while avenging his own family and left a strong impression on the young boy.

Quite what Lucius is up to in the new film remains to be seen, but there’s a chance he’ll be ending up in the arena himself, especially since Mescal has reportedly been training for the role.

Keoghan, meanwhile, is apparently playing the primary antagonist, Roman Emperor Geta (a fictional take on a real-life ruler). We can certainly see Keoghan as a Commodus-style troublemaker.

Colin Farrell and Barry Keoghan in the film 'The Banshees of Inisherin.'

(L to R) Colin Farrell and Barry Keoghan in the film 'The Banshees of Inisherin.' Photo by Jonathan Hession. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

This is real progress for Scott, who is looking to work with both fresh talent and experienced performers (and behind the scenes, he’s recruited the original movie’s costume designer Janty Yates and production designer Arthur Max).

Both Mescal and Keoghan scored Oscar nominations this past year, Mescal for his nuanced take on a father in ‘Aftersun’, and Keoghan for his funny, sweet role in ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’.

Scott will need the top talent available, since ‘Gladiator’ is quite the classic to follow up. The first movie earned more than $460 million at the worldwide box office (back in the year 2000, don’t forget) and was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, winning five including Best Actor for Russell Crowe and Best Picture.

It also has a big following, with plenty of fans wondering what shape a sequel might take. We’ll find out on November 22nd, 2024, when it hits theaters.

Russell Crowe in director Ridley Scott's 'Gladiator.'

(Right) Russell Crowe in director Ridley Scott's 'Gladiator.'

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