May 23, 2024

Ridley Scott revealed in a recent New Yorker profile that he has been editing the 90 minutes of footage he was able to capture for “Gladiator 2” before the Hollywood strikes shut down production. Scott was shooting the long-awaited “Gladiator” sequel in Morocco when filming stopped indefinitely. He can’t resume production until the SAG-AFTRA strike is resolved.

As reported by The New Yorker: “With SAG-AFTRA and the studios back in negotiations, he was preparing to pick up ‘Gladiator 2,’ which stars Paul Mescal, the moment the strike was resolved. ‘I could shoot on Monday,’ he said. (The talks fell apart a week later.) In the meantime, he’d been polishing the 90 minutes he had, including a scene in which the hero fights a pack of baboons; he’d been haunted, he said, by a video of baboons attacking tourists in Johannesburg: ‘Baboons are carnivores. Can you hang from that roof for two hours by your left leg? No! A baboon can.’”

Russell Crowe faced off against Joaquin Phoenix in Scott’s original “Gladiator,” which grossed a whopping $503 million worldwide in 2000 and won the Oscar for best picture, but “Gladiator 2” star Paul Mescal will apparently be going head-to-head against a pack of baboons. How’s that for raising the stakes? Mescal is joined in the sequel by Denzel Washington, Connie Nielsen, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Joseph Quinn, Fred Hechinger and Pedro Pascal.

“Gladiator 2” is set years after the events of the original and follows an adult Lucius (Mescal), the nephew of Commodus (Phoenix). Given the time jump, original star Crowe is not involved in the sequel. Crowe earned the Academy Award for best actor thanks to “Gladiator.” He has repeatedly said that neither Scott nor anyone involved with “Gladiator 2” reached out to him since the sequel has nothing to do with the character he played in the original. At the Karlovy Film Festival in July, Crowe even urged the press to stop asking him about the “Gladiator” sequel.

“They should be fucking paying me for the amount of questions I am asked about a film I am not even in,” Crowe said. “It has nothing to do with me. In that world, I am dead. Six feet under. But I do admit to a certain tinge of jealousy, because it reminds me of when I was younger and what it meant for me, in my life.”

Mescal previously told Esquire UK that he wouldn’t “know what we would talk about” regarding discussions with Crowe. He added, “Like, I’d love to hear his stories from filming, but the character is, like, totally separate.” 

Paramount Pictures is set to open “Gladiator 2” in theaters Nov. 22, 2024, although a delay could happen depending on the outcome of the SAG-AFTRA strike.

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