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Oscar-winning Gladiator actor Russell Crowe is ‘slightly uncomfortable’ about Ridley Scott’s sequel

Source: YouTube/Kyle Meredith

Hollywood star Russell Crowe, who won a best actor Oscar back in 2000 for his performance in the epic, Gladiator, says he’s feeling “slightly uncomfortable” a sequel is being made.

Before his first US tour with his band Indoor Garden Party, Crowe, 60, sat down with nationally syndicated US radio host Kyle Meredith to talk all things about his “monster players” in his umbrella band, before pivoting to his movie career and thoughts on Gladiator 2 starring 27-year-old Irish actor Paul Mescal.

“I’m slightly uncomfortable with the fact they’re making another one – because, of course, [my character is] dead and I have no say in what gets done,” Crowe admitted during the 40-minute Zoom chat on June 11.

Directed by Ridley Scott, Crowe famously played Maximus Decimus Meridius, the commander of the Armies of the North in the Roman Empire, serving loyally under Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

When the emperor is murdered by his son Commodus, and Maximus refuses to swear allegiance, his wife and son were crucified by the Roman cavalrymen.

In 192AD, he finally had the chance to avenge the emperor’s death – as well as his wife and son – and he killed Commodus in a bloody, fierce fight that goes down in history as one of the all-time great arena battle scenes.

Crowe’s Maximus also died of his wounds.

The film received 12 Oscar nominations, eventually winning in five categories, including best picture.

“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’,” Crowe admits to Meredith.

“But I can’t say anything, it’s not my place … I’m six foot under.

“So we’ll see what that is like.”

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Russell Crowe on set at Bourne Wood in 1999. Photo: Getty

Will you not be entertained in the sequel?

In April, Paramount Pictures appropriately unveiled the first Gladiator 2 trailer at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

” … Scott seems to be offering a bloodier version of that distant age,” said The Hollywood Reporter at the time, recapturing the first film’s “epic sprawl and shattering action sequences”.

“The teaser saw Mescal face off against a charging rhino, a horde of vicious baboons, and Pedro Pascal [The Last of Us], among other threats to his chiselled physique.

“There were … naval bombardments, political intrigue … and a pair of diabolical emperors who seem even crazier than Joaquin Phoenix’s [who played the unhinged monarch in the original].”

Crowe says he’s also slightly jealous.

“I reflect back … the age I was when I made that film and all the things that came after it, the doors that particular movie opened for me.

“This is just me being purely honest.

“There’s definitely a tinge of melancholy, a tinge of jealousy … I remember when I had tendons,” he giggles, referencing his once-battle-hardy torso.

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Connie Nielsen with Russell Crowe in a scene from the 2000 film Gladiator. Photo: Universal/Getty

Maximus is believed to have had a romance with the emperor’s daughter, Lucilla, played by Connie Nielsen, when they were young and had not yet married.

She later married and had a son, Lucius (Mescal).

Nielsen reprises her role in the sequel, as does Derek Jacobi, playing Gracchus, a member of the Roman Senate.

Denzel Washington (The Equalizer trilogy, American Gangster, Flight), 69, lends some gravitas to the sequel.

“Rome must fall,” he says at one point in the footage.

“I need only to give it a push.”

Fred Hechinger (The White Lotus) and Joseph Quinn (Stranger Things) play co-emperor Geta and co-emperor Caracalla.

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Russell Crowe gets a little nostalgic talking about rewatching the film in Rome in 2018. Photo: Getty

For Crowe, at the end of the chat, he’s “humbled” by his time on the original, and a little philosophical.

He recalls sitting inside the Colosseum in 2018, watching a Il Gladiatore In Concerto‘ presentation with a 150-piece orchestra, thinking about how “small” his contribution was to the masterpiece compared to the production, costumes and stuntmen.

“Scott deserves an academy award for that film,” he said.

“Here’s the thing … I work constantly, I am always turning down more things that I could do. I even have to walk away from some things.

“There’s no way I would’ve thought that at the age of 60, I would be in that position.

“I’ve just come off Nuremberg, playing an extremely complex character, Hermann Goering … now I’m going to go on tour for a couple of months and there’s apparently three movies we’re trying to massage into the same set of months when the tour is over.

“I have a full-blown creative life and I’m very appreciative”.

Question is, will he find the time to watch the sequel?

Gladiator 2 will be released in cinemas on November 15

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