There's an awful lot of intrigue surrounding the planned Gladiator sequel, but rumours original star Russell Crowe will reprise his role have now been proven incorrect.
It's previously been reported that the follow-up will revolve around Lucius, the son of Connie Nielsen's Lucilla, and the nephew of Commodus, Joaquin Phoenix's villain in the hit 2000 movie. Paul Mescal (Normal People) is said to be in talks for a lead role, making it likely that this is who he's playing.
During a recent interview on the Australian radio show Fitzy and Wippa, Crowe was asked if he's part of the sequel. "Not at all," he responded. "So, I know roughly how [Scott]'s shaping the story. But yeah, you remember, there was a young kid who wanted to beat the Gladiator? Which leads to the 'My name is' speech. So that young kid has grown up, and he's now the Emperor."
"I don't know what else happens at that point, but that's the idea," the actor concluded, seemingly confirming the rough plot details above.
While some might argue that it would make sense for Crowe to play a supporting role as Maximus Decimus Meridius for the marketing potential alone, a lot of people appear to have forgotten one crucial detail: the character dies! After becoming a Gladiator, he gains his revenge on the evil Commodus, but is killed and reunites with his family in the afterlife.
With that in mind, focusing on a new set of characters and dealing with the legacy of Commodus and Maximus is bound to lead to a vastly more interesting story than if the latter was somehow resurrected.
The first movie was a huge hit, grossing $460.5 million at the worldwide box office and earning five Academy Awards, including "Best Picture" and "Best Actor" for Crowe.
Gladiator 2 will also be directed by Sir Ridley Scott, but doesn't currently have a release date.