Alfie Tempest as young Lucius Verus in Gladiator II

Did Gladiator II Replace the Original Movie’s Lucius Verus Actor?

The new trailer for Gladiator II splices in footage from Ridley Scott’s original 2000 blockbuster – including shots of a noticeably different Lucius Verus. Did Scott recast the young Lucius Verus with another actor for Gladiator II?

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Did Gladiator II Replace the Original Movie’s Lucius Verus Actor?

Yes, Ridley Scott has recast the young Lucius Verus in Gladiator II. While Spencer Treat Clark portrayed l’il Lucius in Gladiator, Alfie Tempest fills the role in the sword-and-sandal epic’s sequel. The recasting is particularly obvious in the Gladiator II trailer’s close-ups of young Lucius, which highlight Tempest’s rounder face compared to Clark’s.

Interestingly, Tempest doesn’t just replace Clark in material shot specifically for Gladiator II. The trailer suggests that Scott has digitally inserted him into scenes recycled from the first Gladiator, as well. Tempest’s on-screen mother, Connie Nielsen, also appears in some of these remixed scenes.

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Of course, Alfie Tempest isn’t the only actor to sub in for Clark as Lucius. Paul Mescal plays the adult Lucius Verus in Gladiator II, serving as the film’s protagonist. Lucius’ mom, Lucilla, sent Lucius to live on the coast of North Africa when he was still a kid, and his experiences there have redefined his attitude towards the Roman Empire.

“[Gladiator II is a] very ‘angry young man’ drama in that sense. He can see the way Rome has kind of fallen in on itself,” Mescal explained in a recent Vanity Fair interview. “Rome represents all the personal neglect that he felt as a child. Suddenly he’s thrust back into that world and has direct proximity to all of the things that he thinks he hates and doesn’t feel attached to anymore.”

Why Did Ridley Scott Recast Lucius for Gladiator II?

Presumably, Scott recast the young Lucius role because Gladiator II will include flashbacks to the character’s youth. This also explains why Scott reshot or altered archival material featuring Spencer Treat Clark: he needed the new and existing young Lucius scenes to match. Think of it like 2011’s X-Men: First Class, which employed similar filmmaking trickery to expand on Magneto’s origin story as depicted in 2000’s X-Men.

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What about the older Lucius – why didn’t Scott bring back the now grown-up Spencer Treat Clark? Two reasons. The first is that Clark is too old for the part. Scott and screenwriter David Scarpa envisioned Lucius as only 10-15 years older in Gladiator II, whereas Clark is now in his mid-30s. The second is that Scott loved Mescal’s performance in acclaimed miniseries Normal People, and decided he was the only actor for the part.

Gladiator II fights its way into cinemas on Nov. 22, 2024.

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Leon Miller
Leon is a freelance contributor at The Escapist, covering movies, TV, video games, and comics. Active in the industry since 2016, Leon's previous by-lines include articles for Polygon, Popverse, Screen Rant, CBR, Dexerto, Cultured Vultures, PanelxPanel, Taste of Cinema, and more.