Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2 looks to be gearing up for a grand return. The long-awaited sequel already has Paul Mescal (Aftersun, Normal People) and Barry Keoghan (The Batman, The Banshees of Inisherin) lined up, and it’s working to bring in another big name: Denzel Washington.
According to Deadline, the veteran actor is in final negotiations to take up an undisclosed role in the movie. Details are being kept under wraps, but the report highlights Washington’s excitement at playing a “bad-ass role” that was reportedly written with him in mind. If the talks go smoothly, the project will mark his reunion with Scott, 16 years after both A-listers teamed up for hit crime drama American Gangster.
The movie follows the 2000 blockbuster Gladiator, which raked in more than US$460 million at the worldwide box office and scored 12 Academy Awards nominations. It starred Russell Crowe as Maximus, the Roman general-turned gladiator, and grew to become one of his most iconic roles to date. Mescal won’t be replacing the character, and has instead been cast as Lucius, the son of Lucilla (Connie Nelsen) and nephew of Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), who in the first film, murdered his father and Roman leader Marcus Aurelius to seize the throne.
The Aftersun actor made the cut for the lead role after a hunt that reportedly saw Richard Madden (1917, Rocketman), Timothée Chalamet (Lady Bird, Dune), Top Gun: Maverick‘s Miles Teller and Elvis‘ Austin Butler in the running. Keoghan, meanwhile, will play Emperor Geta, with costume designer Janty Yates and production designer Arthur Max — both of whom also worked on the first movie — set to join Scott in his return to the Colosseum.
Gladiator 2 is currently slated for release on 22 November 2024.