“Gladiator II”: Everything to Know About the Sequel to the 2000 Movie Starring Paul Mescal

Ridley Scott is revisiting one of his most iconic films with ‘Gladiator II,’ which stars Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal and Denzel Washington

<p>Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock; Karwai Tang/WireImage</p> Russell Crowe in

Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock; Karwai Tang/WireImage

Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator'. ; Paul Mescal attends The Olivier Awards 2023 on April 02, 2023 in London, England.

Twenty-four years after the original movie came out, Gladiator II is on its way to theaters.

Ridley Scott, who was nominated for an Academy Award for 2000’s Gladiator, is back at the helm of the sequel. The much-anticipated movie stars Paul Mescal as the lead, with a star-studded supporting cast including Pedro Pascal and Denzel Washington.

Gladiator tells the story of Maximus (Russell Crowe), a Roman general who is the victim of a coup by the evil emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). He is forced into slavery and fights his way up the ranks as a gladiator so he can take vengeance upon Commodus, who killed his family.

In theaters on Nov. 22, 2024, Gladiator II picks up where Gladiator left off with a new fighter, Commodus’ nephew Lucius (Mescal), ready to enter the arena.

“I thought the [first] film was, as it were, completely satisfactory, creatively complete, so why muck with it, right?” Scott told Deadline in November 2023 of why he chose to make a sequel. “But these cycles keeps going on and on and on, they repeat globally for the last 20 years. It started to spell itself out as an obvious thing to do, and that’s how it evolved.”

The original movie was met with wide critical acclaim, nabbing 12 nominations at the Academy Awards and winning five, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Crowe.

From the starry cast to when it will come out in theaters, here’s everything to know about Gladiator II.

What is Gladiator II about?

<p>Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock </p> Joaquin Phoenix and Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator'.


Joaquin Phoenix and Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator'.

Considering Gladiator left off with both Commodus and Maximus dead, the sequel had to follow a new lead. The story picks up with Commodus’ sister Lucilla's son, Lucius Verus, who idolizes the late Maximus. While not much is known about the plot, the filmmakers showed a sneak peek of an unfinished trailer at CinemaCon in April 2024.

The clip included glimpses of Lucius in Roman garb taking on a number of enemies in large stadiums to the cheers of massive crowds. In addition to people, Lucius faces baboons and an angry rhinoceros, which he ends up blinding with sand in one scene. In another fight scene, Lucius is in a stadium filled with shark-infested water, fighting his foes on boats.

Who is in the cast of Gladiator II?

<p>Amy Sussman/Getty ; Arturo Holmes/Getty ; Michael Loccisano/Getty</p> Paul Mescal attends the 2023 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 12, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. ; Pedro Pascal attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. ; Denzel Washington attends the 2022 Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Salute to Freedom Gala on May 26, 2022 in New York City.

Mescal leads the new movie as Lucius, a decision Scott made after watching him in 2020’s Normal People. The director told Deadline that he was impressed by Mescal’s acting in the show and invited him for a personal meeting to discuss the role shortly after.

“I’m always looking for someone, something new and fresh. I mean, fresh is terribly important,” he said. “So they’re not carrying … baggage is a terrible word for what they’ve done before, because it’s great stuff, but you will remember he just did this character already.”

In addition to Mescal, Pascal joined the cast for a yet-to-be-revealed role, and Washington will also take part. Per Deadline, Washington is an arms dealer who supplies everything from weapons to wine for the Romans and has his own legion of 30 to 40 gladiators.

“He likes to actually see them fight and it evolves that that’s where he came from,” Scott said of his character. “He was captured in North Africa, and evolved into a free man because he was a good gladiator. But he hides that because also he’s now realizing the potential of his actual power.”

Also joining the cast are Stranger Things’ Joseph Quinn as Caracalla and The White Lotus’ Fred Hechinger as Geta, both co-emperors. Hechinger took on the role after Saltburn’s Barry Keoghan had to step away for another project.

From the original cast, Connie Nielsen will reprise her role as Lucilla while Derek Jacobi will once again play Roman Senator Gracchus.

What has Paul Mescal said about Gladiator II?

<p>Dave Benett/Getty</p> Paul Mescal attends the Netflix 2024 BAFTA Awards after-party on February 18, 2024 in London, England.

Dave Benett/Getty

Paul Mescal attends the Netflix 2024 BAFTA Awards after-party on February 18, 2024 in London, England.

Mescal has admitted that he was “nervous” about taking on the part of Lucius, which he didn’t actually audition for. The Aftersun actor told The Hollywood Reporter in February 2023 that he was offered the part after a personal meeting with Scott.

"And I'm so proud I get to make it," he said. "It's an intimidating feat. It's something I'm nervous about but something I feel like I can do."

As he prepares for the role, he told the outlet that he does not care for “a focus” on the physical aspects of the part.

"Of course there's a physical robustness required for the character, but past that, I'm not interested," Mescal told THR. "This guy's got to fight and got to be a beast. And whatever that looks and feels like is right for me, is what it's going to be."

"Sometimes I see films and I'm like, 'That person doesn't look real,' " he said of other action movies.

While talking about the film in August 2023 with Esquire, Mescal said he has yet to talk to Crowe about the part, given their characters are “totally separate.”

“I don’t know what we would talk about,” he said, adding that he would still “love to hear” Crowe’s stories from filming.

What has Russell Crowe said about Gladiator II?

<p>Jaap Buitendijk/Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator'.

Jaap Buitendijk/Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator'.

In April 2023, Crowe said he was not involved in the film — presumably since his character is dead — but is “slightly jealous” of the new movie.

"Look, the only thing that I really feel about it is slightly jealous, you know? Because I was a much younger man, obviously, and it was a huge experience in my life," Crowe told Collider.

"It's something that changed my life, really. It changed the way people regarded me and what I do for a living, and, you know, I've been very lucky to be involved in lots of big movies, but the legs on that film are incredible," he continued.

He added that he didn’t know much about the story, but trusted Scott to “create something the same level of spectacle” as the original.

The previous month, he said on RTÉ Radio One's The Ryan Tubridy Show that he hadn’t been reached out to about the movie.

"It's an extension of the narrative, but it is long beyond Maximus's passing, so it doesn't really involve me at all,” Crowe said. “I hear that young fella Paul is a good dude and I wish him the best of luck with it."

He continued, "I think where they're picking the story up from, a young Lucius, stepping into the role of emperor. I think that's a very smart idea within the world of the film that we created."

Who is making Gladiator II?

<p>Gareth Cattermole/Getty</p> Ridley Scott attends the "Napoleon" UK Premiere on November 16, 2023 in London, England.

Gareth Cattermole/Getty

Ridley Scott attends the "Napoleon" UK Premiere on November 16, 2023 in London, England.

Over two decades after the first film, Scott is back to direct the sequel and brought his usual filmmaking crew along with him. Cinematographer John Mathieson, production designer Arthur Max and costume designer Janty Yates, all of whom are Academy Award-nominated, also worked on the film.

When did filming for Gladiator II finish?

<p>United Archives GmbH / Alamy</p> 'Gladiator'.

United Archives GmbH / Alamy


In November 2023, Scott told Deadline that he had already shot “about 90 minutes” before the SAG-AFTRA strike started in July 2023. Most of the movie was shot in Morocco and Malta, starting in June.

Shortly before the interview, the strike had ended and Scott said there was still about half the film left to shoot, which he planned to get going within two weeks to ensure Pascal could wrap up before filming season 2 of The Last Of Us, per Deadline.

“It’s really getting the sets cleaned up; they’re already built,” he told the outlet. “I got another 90 minutes to go.”

The movie wrapped filming in January 2024.

When will Gladiator II be released?

<p>Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator'.


Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator'.

Gladiator II will hit theaters on Nov. 22, 2024.

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