The Gladiator Sequel Is Actually Happening, Will Star Normal People's Paul Mescal

If you're not entertained, you will be soon: Ridley Scott's "Gladiator 2" is actually happening, according to The Hollywood Reporter, and it's already finalizing its lead. Scott's original 2000 Best Picture winner starred Russell Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridius, an enslaved Roman warrior who faces off against Joaquin Phoenix's villainous ruler Commodus. The new film is reportedly set to tell the story of Lucius, the nephew of Commodus, with "Normal People" and "Aftersun" star Paul Mescal in talks to take on the role.

THR reporter Borys Kit revealed via Twitter that the search for the new Lucius (the character appeared as a child played by Spencer Treat Clark in the original "Gladiator") was extremely competitive, with actors like Timothée Chalamet, Austin Butler, Miles Teller, and Richard Madden apparently vying for the spot at one point. But Mescal, an actor who has only tackled a small handful of on-screen roles but proven utterly compelling in all of them, is supposedly in negotiations for the lead in the yet-unnamed sequel.

Ridley Scott returns to the arena

It's important to note that Ridley Scott himself will return to helm the "Gladiator" sequel for Paramount, stepping behind the camera to film another sword-and-sandal epic 23 years after the original was released. "Gladiator" is no doubt a crowd-pleaser; it not only won acclaim and Oscars, but also won the box office with a $460 million global haul, according to Box Office Mojo. Paramount has already had tremendous success with one unexpected, years-belated sequel recently in the form of "Top Gun: Maverick," so Scott and "Gladiator" could be the next big bet for the studio that will hopefully pay off.

Scott collaborator David Scarpa, who penned the scripts for "All the Money in the World" and the director's upcoming biopic "Napoleon," is working on the screenplay for the "Gladiator" sequel, per THR. Sadly, that means musician and screenwriter Nick Cave's script for the sequel, which is a real thing that exists, is probably not the version we'll see onscreen. Years ago, Cave told Marc Maron's WTF podcast about a screenplay he wrote for Crowe that would've not only brought Maximus back from the dead, but would've seen him return to kill a Christ-like figure who was threatening the livelihood of the gods, only to discover the man he killed was his own son.

Unfortunately, that wild version of "Gladiator 2" never saw the light of day, but we're still excited to hear that one of Scott's most-loved movies will be getting a new chapter. As of publication time, there is no release date for the film.