'Gladiator 2': What You Need To Know About Ridley Scott's Long-Awaited Sequel Starring Paul Mescal (2024)

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  • What Is the Release Date of 'Gladiator II'?

  • Will 'Gladiator II' Be Released in Theaters or on Streaming?

  • Does 'Gladiator II' Have a Trailer Yet?

  • What Is the Plot of 'Gladiator II'?

  • Who Is Starring in 'Gladiator II'?

  • Who Is Making 'Gladiator II'?

  • When and Where Did 'Gladiator II' Film?

Few films can match the massive financial and critical success of Ridley Scott's period piece epic, Gladiator. Just when you thought films about warriors in Ancient Rome reached their peak with movies like Ben-Hur and Spartacus, in came Ridley Scott with a modern action spectacle that set a new bar for production design in filmmaking and featured revolutionary special effects. If the technical aspects weren't already enough for the movie to make its mark on film history, Gladiator also came complete with a powerful and engaging plot.

As many probably know, Gladiator tells the historically fictitious story of Maximus (Russell Crowe) - a Roman general who becomes the victim of a coup by Caesar Marcus Aurelius's own son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Maximus is stripped of his rank and sentenced to be a slave in the fighting pits of Rome's gladiatorial industry, all while Commodus orders the execution of Maximus's wife and child. Fueled by vengeance over the slaying of his family, Maximus uses his combat training and military expertise to quickly rise through the ranks of Rome's fiercest gladiators, eventually becoming a symbol of hope for Rome's persecuted citizens before coming face to face with Emperor Commodus.

The result of the film's impressive sense of scale, filmmaking prowess, and thrilling plot led to the film receiving nominations for 12 total Academy Awards, ultimately taking home five including the coveted Best Picture prize. Since then Gladiator is remembered as an acclaimed classic in the eyes of both critics and audiences. With the film's final duel resulting in the death of Maximus, it seemed that the story of Gladiator was completely over and done with. As we've now learned, Ridley Scott still has plans for the story of Gladiator to continue.

Whispers and plans for a second Gladiator film have been circulating ever since the success of the original film, with Russell Crowe himself stating that conversations about a follow-up never truly ceased. Allegedly past ideas have included Gladiator II taking a page out of the bible and resurrecting Maximus as well as an idea for things to take an even more supernatural approach with Maximus engaging in gladiatorial combat against mythological foes in the Roman afterlife. As the long-awaited continuation is finally entering production, only time will tell if Gladiator II will stay true to its grounded roots or introduce more fantastical elements.

To learn all the details for the surprising sequel and when you can expect to enter the arena, here is everything we know so far about Gladiator II.

Editor's Note: This piece was updated on July 9, 2024.

Gladiator II

Adventure

Action

Drama

Lucius Verus, the son of Maximus's beloved Lucilla, returns to Rome after years in the wilderness. Captured by Roman forces led by General Marcus Acacius, he is thrust into the gladiatorial arena. As he battles for survival, he encounters Macrinus, a former slave-turned-merchant, and faces the corrupt twin emperors Caracalla and Geta.

Release Date
November 22, 2024
Director
Ridley Scott
Cast
Joseph Quinn , Connie Nielsen , Paul Mescal , Pedro Pascal , Denzel Washington , Fred Hechinger , Rory McCann , Derek Jacobi
Main Genre
Adventure

Writers
Peter Craig , David Scarpa

What Is the Release Date of 'Gladiator II'?

'Gladiator 2': What You Need To Know About Ridley Scott's Long-Awaited Sequel Starring Paul Mescal (2)

Get ready to be entertained by another trip to ancient Rome as Gladiator II officially arrives in theaters on Friday, November 22, 2024. Opening the same day as Gladiator II will be Jon M. Chu's long-awaited feature film adaptation of Wicked starring Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo. Could this be another Barbenheimer situation? We'll just have to wait and see.

This date will have the film opening the week before another major blockbuster in Moana 2, which will arrive on November 27, 2024.

The film will be opening a week earlier in the United Kingdom on November 15, 2024.

Will 'Gladiator II' Be Released in Theaters or on Streaming?

'Gladiator 2': What You Need To Know About Ridley Scott's Long-Awaited Sequel Starring Paul Mescal (3)

The first Gladiator film grossed a whopping total of $503 million USD at the international box office, exactly quintupling its budget of $103 million USD. With numbers like that, it seems extremely unlikely that Gladiator II would even think of forgoing a theatrical release. Not to mention a spectacle like gladiatorial combat is surely something that patient fans would want to see on the big screen rather than on their computer. That being said, we wouldn't rule out a streaming release, and given that the Gladiator intellectual property is owned by Paramount Pictures, it seems a release on Paramount+ would be fairly likely.

Does 'Gladiator II' Have a Trailer Yet?

Paramount Pictures unveiled the first official trailer for Gladiator II on July 9, 2024. Running over three minutes long, the extended appearance at the movie previews the movie's epic battle sequences, gladiatorial battles, and a gladiator riding a rhino into the Colosseum, facing off against Lucius. Jay-Z and Ye's "No Church in the Wild" plays over the latter half of the trailer.

Collider exclusively reported that .

An extended five-minute teaser for the film was shown to CinemaCon attendees in April 2024. Collider's Britta DeVore was in attendance at Paramount's presentation and broke down what she saw.

The teaser starts calm enough, with a voiceover of Mescal’s Lucius Verus saying, “I remember that day, I never forgot it. That a slave could take revenge against an emperor. That a slave could get justice in the arena.” Now, Lucius is the man controlling the attention of the gazing eyes of the Colosseum as we watch the character, first introduced in the original film, take on everything from razor-toothed monkeys to a man on a rhino — continuously thwarting his attackers in masterful ways. The teaser also gave us a glimpse at a very handsome Pascal, the return of Nielsen’s Lucilla, Washington’s vengeful former slave, and an incredibly eerie-appearing Quinn who will masterfully portray the madness of a co-emperor — giving Joaquin Phoenix a run for his money.

What Is the Plot of 'Gladiator II'?

The official synopsis for Gladiator II from Paramount Pictures reads as follows:

From legendary director Ridley Scott, Gladiator II continues the epic saga of power, intrigue, and vengeance set in Ancient Rome. Years after witnessing the death of revered hero Maximus at the hands of his uncle, Lucius (Paul Mescal) is forced to enter the Colosseum after his home is conquered by the tyrannical Emperors who now lead Rome with an iron fist. With rage in his heart and the future of the Empire at stake, Lucius must look to his past to find strength and honor to return the glory of Rome to its people.

Paul Mescal's character Lucius was a key supporting character in the original movie's storyline (played in the first film by Spencer Treat Clark). In the first Gladiator, Lucius is a young boy who is the nephew of the villainous Commodus and the son of Commodus's sister, Lucilla (Connie Nielsen). Despite only meeting him a handful of times, Lucius quickly grew an admiration for Maximus as he became a hero in the eyes of the many spectators in the Coliseum. From that point on, Lucius decided he didn't want to be the next in line for the Roman throne, but instead wanted to be a symbolically heroic gladiator like Maximus. When he witnessed Maximus and Commodus, seeing his brave sacrifice in the face of a maniacal ruler must have truly affected him.

Mescal will be playing an all-grown-up version of Lucius, and as the trailer suggests, Lucius has taken after Maximus and decided to enter the fighting pits rather than become Caesar.

Who Is Starring in 'Gladiator II'?

As mentioned above, the lead role of Lucius in Gladiator II will be Paul Mescal, who received his first Academy Award nomination in 2023 for his performance in Aftersun.

Scott noted that Mescal's performance in the hit British drama series Normal People played a big role in the casting, saying:

"And then I watched the whole series. And then, suddenly, Gladiator 2 came up, because the script was working pretty well. And I kept thinking about Paul. And that was it."

Another exciting addition to the all-star cast is Pedro Pascal, the star of The Last of Us and The Mandalorian, and his inclusion here will continue the actor's dominance in Hollywood. Pascal will be playing the role of Marcus Acacius, a rival of Lucius' who trained under Maximus and leads an army to take over North Africa. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Pascal spoke about his role saying:

“He’s a very, very good general, which can mean a very good killer.” To Lucius, Acacius is a symbol of everything he detests. “The film begins with the raiding party of the Roman fleet, which comes in from the sea and decimates Numidia,”

Another major actor confirmed to appear in Gladiator II is two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington. Washington plays Macrinus, one of the primary antagonistic roles in the sequel. Macrinus is a former slave turned power broker and arms dealer who wants to overthrow the Emperors to rule Rome himself. This marks the first time that Washington has starred in a Ridley Scott film in over fifteen years, having previously starred in American Gangster. Scott teased that the character would symbolize a life that was forbidden from Maximus in the original film. In an interview with Total Film, Scott said:

"As for Denzel’s character… There were businesses of gladiators who could indeed earn their freedom if they stayed alive. That was the deal. So we went right into that, in-depth. Where did he come from? How was he taken? He was branded with marks and registered with a brand on his chest as a slave. So that’s how he comes into the story. He’s a rich guy who’s still carrying a grudge."

Joseph Quinn, best known for his role as Eddie Munson in the fourth season of Stranger Things and most recently A Quiet Place: Day One, will be playing the role of Emperor Geta in Gladiator II. Emperor Geta was a real-life Roman Emperor who held control over the empire from 198 to 211. Whether this Emperor will be a villainous successor to Commodus remains to be seen. While Quinn's character has a similar role to that of Joaquin Phoenix's Commodus in the first film, Quinn didn't try to mimic what the Oscar-winner did in the first film and made the role his own. Academy Award nominee Barry Keoghan was initially up for the role but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.

Fred Hechinger, who broke out in a big way with his role as Quinn Mossbacher in the first season of The White Lotus, will play the role of Emperor Caracalla, the brother of Emperor Geta. In an interview with Collider's Steve Weintraub, Hechinger talked about his experience on the set of Gladiator II.

"It’s amazing. I mean, the eight cameras reminds me of theater because you have an entire environment that’s created in camera . But I have to say, what’s amazing, too, is when something feels alive it feels alive in unique but connective ways. So, when something’s really special, what we’re doing here, when you start to find a rhythm, again, if I’m lucky, I feel connected to that feeling of when I started doing plays. I’ve never been able to put a name to whatever that weird feeling is, but you just get a sense of it."

Another major television star to break big last year was Moon Knight's May Calamawy, who has also signed on to play the female lead of the epic sequel.

Connie Nielsen and Derek Jacobi, who starred in the first film as Lucilla and Senator Gracchus, have also signed on to reprise their roles for the sequel.

Additionally, Tyrant star Alexander Karim will play Ravi and Game of Thrones' Tim McInnerny will play Thraex. Other cast members onboard to join Gladiator II include Lior Raz (6 Underground), Peter Mensah (Spartacus), and Matt Lucas (Bridesmaids) in undisclosed roles.

Original star Russell Crowe will not be returning for the film, which makes sense considering his character's fate at the end of the first movie. Regardless, Crowe has revealed in an interview that he's uncomfortable about the sequel, saying:

“I’m slightly uncomfortable with the fact they’re making another one — because, of course, I’m dead and I have no say in what gets done. A couple of the things I’ve heard I’m like, ‘No, no, no, that’s not in the moral journey of that particular character’. But I can’t say anything, it’s not my place, I’m six feet under. So we’ll see what that is like.””

Djimon Hounsou who starred as Juba in the 2000 film was initially reported to reprise his role for the sequel but had to leave the project due to scheduling conflicts.

Who Is Making 'Gladiator II'?

'Gladiator 2': What You Need To Know About Ridley Scott's Long-Awaited Sequel Starring Paul Mescal (4)

Arguably the biggest star returning for Gladiator II is the man in the director's chair, Ridley Scott. Scott is a prolific filmmaker who requires no introduction, with examples of his acclaimed directorial work including Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Black Hawk Down, The Martian, and many more. Penning the screenplay for Gladiator II is David Scarpa, who previously collaborated with Scott as the writer for All the Money in the World as well as Napoleon.

Other major crew members include other frequent collaborators of Scott's, such as individuals who worked on the original Gladiator like Academy Award-nominated cinematographer John Mathieson, Academy Award-nominated production designer Arthur Max and Academy Award-winning costume designer Janty Yates.

When and Where Did 'Gladiator II' Film?

Filming for Gladiator II began in June 2023, primarily in Morocco, with additional filming taking place in Malta and the United Kingdom.

With production underway, we were able to see some behind-the-scenes footage. Morocco's Minister of Culture, Mohammed Mehdi Bensaid, shared a glimpse of the highly anticipated sequel. Check it out below.

In June, Collider exclusively revealed several photos from the set of the construction of the film's massive coliseum.

Filming was halted in July due to the SAG-AFTRA strikes. However, when the strike ended in early November 2023, Gladiator II was announced as one of the first titles to go back into production. One of the reasons for the rush was to ensure that Pedro Pascal would not have a scheduling conflict with filming The Last of Us Season 2.

On January 17, it was reported that filming for Gladiator II had finally wrapped, after months of delays due to the SAG-AFTRA strike. This came just over a year after it was first announced that Paul Mescal would star in the lead role.

'Gladiator 2': What You Need To Know About Ridley Scott's Long-Awaited Sequel Starring Paul Mescal (2024)

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