Gladiator: Russell Crowe narrowly escaped tiger on set

Gladiator director Ridley Scott has revealed Russell Crowe had to narrowly escape a real tiger on set.

The 2000 film starred Crowe as a former Roman general forced to become a common gladiator. There were a lot of battle scenes, so it comes as no surprise that the shoot was a risky place to be.

Speaking about the making of the film 20 years on, Crowe told Variety: “If you’re rolling around on the ground with gigantic sequences with hundreds of moves of choreography, you’re dealing with horses and tigers and other things that can go wrong, of course there are gonna be injuries.

“But when you’re younger, you’re made of rubber and you can bounce back again. I do remember saying to my mom when I got home from that shoot, she said: ‘How do you feel?’ I said, ‘I actually feel like a football player who’s played one season too many.’"

Revealing that there was a real tiger in the ring, which Crowe had to narrowly escape, Scott added: “[The tiger was] a big boy from tail to nose, eleven feet. You’ve got two guys on a chain with a ring in the floor to control it. Russell said, ‘OK, release them,’ and when Russell would fall back, the tiger would come out of the hole and Russell would roll out of the way and he said, ‘F*** me, that was close.’ And I said, ‘We were there as well, Russell. Hey, you were two feet, I was like four feet.’"

“It’s so beautiful,” said Crowe, “so regal, and you’d love to be able to just pet them and cuddle them, but obviously that comes with inherent risk.”

In the same interview, Scott recalled the death of actor Oliver Reed during the making of Gladiator, remarking that he “dropped down dead on the floor of a pub”.

Gladiator, which also starred Joaquin Phoenix and Djimon Hounsou, was a blockbuster success, with Crowe later winning a Best Actor Oscar for his performance.

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