When it comes to playing characters that espouse strength and honor, Denzel Washington might hold the record, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the actor is close to tying up a leading role in the upcoming Gladiator 2, which has been really getting moving ever since casting Paul Mescal as its other lead. It’s unclear who Washington will play in the film, but the part is said to be “bad-ass” and was written with Washington in mind.
Despite writing the part for him, it was unclear if Ridley Scott, who is returning as writer and director for the sequel, would be able to land the actor, who can afford to be picky about what roles he takes given that anyone would kill to have them in their movie. However, Scott and the film’s producers really wanted to pull in a big name for Gladiator 2 after casting the relatively unknown Mescal and pushed hard for Denzel Washington. The actor, for his part, was excited by the script and Scott’s pitch and is now in final talks to become part of the film.
Gladiator 2, which isn’t its actual title, will pick up years after the first film and the death of Maximus after impaling Emperor Commodus in the gladiator arena. Mescal will play a grown-up Lucius, the son of Lucilla, whom Maximus saved and obviously left a great impact. It’s not clear if Lucius will somehow be a gladiator now, or if the title is simply from the first movie and all gladiating will be preferred to some other kind of Roman intrigue. Maybe Denzel Washington will play an aged gladiator himself, much like Oliver Reed did in the first film.
Whatever the movie turns out to be, Washington brings even more cache to a project that already has incredibly high standards. Gladiator is still considered a seminal classic to this day, not to mention it was a box office and awards smash when it came out. The sequel will have a lot to live up to if it wants to come even close to the original, but Scott’s track record directing sequels to his classic films hasn’t been that great on the whole. Hopefully, he can turn it around with this one.