Everything we know about Gladiator II so far

It’s almost time to enter the arena once more – except this time, Normal People actor Paul Mescal will be donning the armour in the highly-anticipated Gladiator 2.

The original 2000 film followed Russell Crowe’s Roman general, who ended up in slavery after the murder of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, played by the late Richard Harris. The film received 12 Oscar nominations, eventually winning in five categories, including Best Picture.

The cast of the film have been spotted doing re-shoots at Devil’s Dyke, a V-shaped valley in Sussex, England, with Mescal seen in costume, bloodied and bruised, filming a dramatic fight scene. While primary cinematography had originally taken place in Morocco, reshoots had to happen in the English National Trust park.

Ridley Scott’s sequel starring Mescal is highly anticipated, since audiences have waited 24 years for a follow-up. Plus, Mescal is joined by a starry cast that includes The Last of Us star Pedro Pascal, Denzel Washington and Stranger Things actor Joseph Quinn. Find out everything you need to know about it, below.

Who’s in it?

Paul Mescal, who made his breakout role in ‘Normal People’, will star as Lucius (Getty Images)
Paul Mescal, who made his breakout role in ‘Normal People’, will star as Lucius (Getty Images)

The sequel will see Mescal take on the lead role of Lucius, the son of Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla and nephew of Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix.

Nielsen will be returning alongside another legacy cast member, Derek Jacobi, who is returning to play Gracchus.

Fred Hechinger, best known for The White Lotus, and Quinn play co-emperors Geta and Caracalla, respectively, while Washington plays a former slave seeking revenge.

Other names include Pascal starring as powerful Roman general Marcus Acacius, who trained under Crowe’s Maximus Decimus Meridius. Little Britain star Matt Lucas and Avatar’s Peter Mensah will also feature.

Pedro Pascal will star as Marcus Acacius in ‘Gladiator 2’ (Getty Images)
Pedro Pascal will star as Marcus Acacius in ‘Gladiator 2’ (Getty Images)

Mescal didn’t have to audition for the sequel, as he said he was approached by Scott, who had hand-picked him to play the leading character.

The Aftersun star explained that he had met with the iconic director and “discussed the parameters of the story. Then, after the fact, I was given a script”.

“It’s an intimidating feat. It’s something I’m nervous about but something I feel like I can do,” Mescal said. “And I’m so proud I get to make it.”

What is in the trailer?

Released on July 9, the film’s first trailer sees Washington’s character Macrinus ask Mescal’s character, “Where were you born?” He responds: “I don’t know, I never knew a mother nor a father.” Subsequent scenes show the colosseum, flashbacks and the Emperor and his allies strategising.

“Years after witnessing the death of the revered hero Maximus at the hands of his uncle, Lucius (Mescal) is forced to enter the Colosseum after his home is conquered by the tyrannical Emperors who now lead Rome with an iron,” the film’s promotional material says.

“With rage in his heart and the future of the Empire at stake, Lucius must look to his past to find strength and honor to return the glory of Rome to its people.”

When is it set?

Russell Crowe in the original ‘Gladiator’ (Jaap Buitendijk/Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock)
Russell Crowe in the original ‘Gladiator’ (Jaap Buitendijk/Dreamworks/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock)

While timeframes have not been confirmed, Scott previously has teased that Lucius has been living in the woods for 15 years with no connection to his mother (Nielsen), believing her to be dead. The film could pick up almost two decades from where the original film finished.

Plot details remain under wraps, but a preview of an unfinished trailer premiered at CinemaCon in April 2024, showing a bloodied Mescal fighting multiple gladiators, as well as baboons and rhinos.

The original film was set in 180 AD, following Maximus returning home after leading Roman forces to victory.

When is it coming out?

Gladiator 2 will arrive in cinemas on 15 November 2024.

Will Russell Crowe be in it?

 (Getty Images for AFI)
(Getty Images for AFI)

Crowe, who won an Academy Award for the film, has debunked the claim he will appear in a flashback scene in the film, and admitted to feeling “jealous” about Mescal’s experience, stating: “I was a much younger man, obviously, and it was a huge experience in my life. It’s something that changed my life, really. It changed the way people regarded me and what I do for a living.”

Although Crowe has strongly denied rumours that he will appear in a flashback scene for Gladiator 2, the actor threw speculation into overdrive when he was spotted in Malta in July, where the film is being shot.

The Cinderella Man star claimed that he was “in Malta recently” for another reason entirely, to perform a concert with his band Indoor Garden Party.

He did, however, tell outlets that seeing the film’s set – which he said is identical to the one built in the 1990s – made him nostalgic.

In another interview with Kyle Meredith, Crowe explained why he is “slightly uncomfortable with the fact they’re making another one”.

“Because, of course, I’m dead and I have no say in what gets done,” he said, going on to explain that he is not a fan of what he has heard of the new film’s plot.

“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,’” he said.

“But I can’t say anything, it’s not my place, I’m six feet under. So we’ll see what that is like.”

Gladiator 2 will be released in cinemas on 15 November 2024.