Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2013 by Russ Fischer
Leave it to the literate and persistently perverse musician/lyricist/screenwriter Nick Cave to totally upend the basic idea of a Hollywood sequel. (This is the man who, for instance, incarnated his fascination with violent folk songs by tossing out all subtlety on the album Murder Ballads, which among other tunes contains an almost shockingly profane revamp of the song ‘Stagger Lee.’)
You may or may not have heard that Russell Crowe once called up Cave to hire him as a screenwriter for Gladiator 2. Cave had written only one other script at the time, Ghosts… Of the Civil Dead; he’s since written The Proposition and Lawless, among other unproduced scripts. ”Hey Russell, didn’t you die in Gladiator?” asked Cave. Crowe’s response: “Yeah, you sort that out.”
The basic news of Cave writing a Gladiator sequel script surfaced years back, and in fact the script itself has done the internet rounds. (It’s embedded below, and after reading the leadup to it, you’ll want to give it a spin.) Cave recently appeared on Marc Maron’s podcast, and talked at length about that project. That’s the source of the quotes above, and just wait ’till you hear how he sorted things out. Hint: Cave’s solution involved a blend of Roman and Christian religions for a story he wanted to call Christ Killer. Yeah, wonder why that didn’t get made?
The Playlist grabbed some quotes from the podcast, in which Cave explained that the story saw Crowe’s character Maximus resurrected as an immortal being. Says Cave, “[he] goes to purgatory and is sent down by the gods, who are dying in heaven because there’s this one god, there’s this Christ character, down on Earth who is gaining popularity. And so the many gods are dying, and they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and all his followers.”
Thinking about this as the sequel to a studio’s Best Picture winner…. head explode.
Follow that with this info: ”the main guy was [Maximus'] son, so he has to kill his son and he was tricked by the gods. He becomes this eternal warrior and it ends with this 20 minute war scene which follows all the wars in history, right up to Vietnam and all that sort of stuff. And… it was wild.” The last scene of the script, after Maximus was reincarnated over and over again as a force of war, is set in the present day, meeting with suits at the Pentagon. “Stone cold masterpiece” deadpans Cave, describing it all.
There are conflicting stories about who killed the script as a blueprint for the sequel, which never happened at all. Cave says Crowe didn’t like it; Ridley Scott has said Crowe did like it, and it was other forces that buried it. Regardless, the film only exists on paper at this point.
The whole interview is a great listen, and the quotes start in the podcast at around the one hour mark. And here’s the script: