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OK So I Need to Know—Which Fandom Girlie Was in Charge of the ‘Gladiator 2’ Casting?

Because honestly, good job. Such a good job.

Russell Crowe during one of his most iconic scenes as Maximus Decimus Meridius in Ridley Scott's Gladiator

I’ll be honest and admit that I was the first one to say I didn’t exactly need a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 2000 blockbuster historical drama Gladiator—a pivotal movie for me and I think every other Italian child of my generation. There are lines from the Italian dub that have by now become so iconic you can’t say them out loud without hearing Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack swelling in the background.

The spectacularly historically incorrect tale of Russell Crowe’s Maximus Decimus Meridius—a Roman general turned gladiator—and his search for revenge against Joaquin Phoenix’s Emperor Commodus is very much auto-conclusive. They circle each other for a while, they end up having a fight to the death on the sands of the Colosseum, they both die, and Maximus joins his family back in Elysium. Childhoods are forever changed, Academy Awards are won and the story is technically done. 

However, talks about a possible other movie set in the same narrative universe as Gladiator started as early as 2001—so we can’t really blame it all on what seems to be Hollywood’s current obsession with sequels and reboots. The project had a long incubation stage, with ideas being explored and then set aside, until production was officially greenlit by Paramount in 2018, once again with Ridley Scott returning as director.

And while we don’t know much about what the movie’s plot is going to be, or even what its actual title will be, we do know one thing—its cast is shaping up to be the ultimate dream of every single person who lives in fandom and has a Twitter account dedicated to movies. Or a carefully-curated Letterboxd page. Or both.

So who is part of the cast of Gladiator 2?

The first actor to be associated with the project was Academy Award-nominated actor Paul Mescal of Normal People and Aftersun fame. His role is also one of the few so far to be pretty certain. He’ll be playing a grown-up Lucius, the son of Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla, who is just a child in the first Gladiator movie.

Paul Mescal made its feature film debut in Aftersun, which netted him an Academy Award nomination
Honestly, Paul Mescal’s career so far? Immaculate (BBC)

Connie Nielsen herself is also listed on Gladiator 2’s IMDb page—even though her role isn’t specified yet, we can only assume she’ll step right back into Lucilla’s royal sandals. Djimon Hounsou might also be reprising his original role as Juba, even though IMDb has him listed only as “rumoured” for now.

Of course, you can’t have a Gladiator movie without an emperor of questionable morality—and since this is Gladiator 2, it only makes sense to have two emperors, namely Caracalla and Geta, who ruled jointly in the first part of the 3rd century CE before meeting their bloody ends. And the two actors who will portray them are Joseph Quinn and Barry Keoghan respectively—so excuse me for a second, I need to go scream my head off. 

Barry Keoghan stars as Druig in Marvel's The Eternals
Just imagining him in a toga is making me need to breathe into a paper bag (Marvel)

As if that wasn’t enough, there are two more names attached to the project—even though we still don’t know what role they might take on. One is Denzel Washington, who is actually the very first name listed on IMDb.

The other, freshly revealed by Deadline, is none other than Pedro Pascal himself. “Pedro Pascal looks to have found the project he’ll shoot during [The Last of Us’s] hiatus and boy is it a big one,” it reads on the Deadline article that broke the news. “Pascal is in final negotiations to join the untitled Gladiator sequel for Paramount”.

Pedro Pascal stars as Joel Miller in The Last of Us
Don’t ask me why but I’ve had this flash of him playing a Praetorian Guard and I think I might have passed out for a second or two (HBO)

So what I’m gathering is that this movie is going to be just as realtering for my brain chemistry now that I’m in my late twenties as the first Gladiator was when I was like, six. Cool cool cool cool.

When can we see this triumph of fandom darlings in cinemas?

Besides the names of both its director and its spectacular cast and a few lines about the plot focusing on Lucius some twenty-five years after Maximus’s death, there is very little more information to be gathered about the project. 

According to Deadline, the movie is as of right now scheduled for a late November 2024 release—the weekend right before that year’s Thanksgiving. With such a stellar cast, though, buzz is definitely set to grow exponentially throughout the course of this year so hopefully we’ll get to know more soon.

Joseph Quinn is Eddie Munson in Stranger Things
Please be as murderous and as unhinged as you can be, thank you very much (Netflix)

For now, I’m more than happy to imagine Barry Keoghan plotting his way through the halls of a Roman palace and Pedro Pascal in a Roman-period costume getup. Truly the stuff of dreams. 

(image: Universal Pictures)

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Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.