Paul Mescal ‘cast in Gladiator sequel – but will NOT play Russell Crowe’s iconic character’

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Paul Mescal has been cast in a sequel to the Oscar winning 2000 epic Gladiator it has been reported.

The Normal People actor, 26, is said to have ‘always been’ returning director Ridley Scott’s choice for the part.

However he will reportedly  not be playing the role of Maximus, the Roman general-turned-gladiator, which won Russell Crowe an Oscar in the original. 

Paul Mescal ‘cast in Gladiator sequel – but will NOT play Russell Crowe’s iconic character’

Casting: Paul Mescal, 26,  has been cast in a sequel to the Oscar winning 2000 epic Gladiator it has been reported

According to Deadline Paul will play Lucius, the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), who now is a grown man as the story takes place many years after the first film ended.

Russell’s titular gladiator who was killed at the end of the film, has not yet signed onto the movie, however fans are of course hoping he returns for a flashback scene. 

They report that the Irish actor was the first to meet director Ridley, 85, and was the front runner for the role throughout the casting process. 

No way: It's been said he will not be playing the role of Maximus, the Roman general-turned-gladiator, which won Russell Crowe an Oscar in the original

No way: It’s been said he will not be playing the role of Maximus, the Roman general-turned-gladiator, which won Russell Crowe an Oscar in the original

Paul’s character, who was played by Spencer Treat Clark in the original was also the nephew of evil Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). 

MailOnline have contacted Paul’s reps for comment. 

Russell’s character Maximus saved the boy and his mother while avenging his own family, and left a strong impression on the young Lucius.

It comes after The Sun reported that the film will begin shooting in May with filming locations already selected for Ouarzazate, Morocco.

With locations in the Moroccan city chosen for filming, with a source estimating the sequel could be ‘ready’ as early as 2024.

‘This has been building since 2018 and for a long time it looked like it may never see the light of day,’ the source said. 

‘But suddenly late last year the production team really sprung into life after settling on a new script which seemed to inspire them.

It's happening! The long-awaited sequel will reportedly begin shooting in May with filming locations already selected for Ouarzazate, Morocco

It’s happening! The long-awaited sequel will reportedly begin shooting in May with filming locations already selected for Ouarzazate, Morocco 

‘A few months later everything was up and running and now it’s well underway

‘They should be filming by May, which means there’s every chance the movie will be ready some time in 2024.

‘Either way, this would be a huge box office draw.’

Connie Nielsen – who played Lucius’ mother Lucilla – is said to be returning along with Djimon Hounsou who played Juba – a man kidnapped from his home by slave traders. 

Back for more? Fans are of course hoping Russell returns for the sequel, despite his character dying in the original epic flick

Back for more? Fans are of course hoping Russell returns for the sequel, despite his character dying in the original epic flick 

Speaking in 2021, Scott insisted the Gladiator sequel would be next on his list as soon as he finished work on Napoleon – which stars Phoenix as the French military commander Napoleon Bonaparte and is due for release on Apple TV Plus later this year.

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Scott told Empire magazine: ‘I’m already having [the next] Gladiator written now. So when I’ve done Napoleon, Gladiator will be ready to go.’

The filmmaker previously confessed that prior to shooting the original movie, he didn’t actually do much research. 

He told The Independent: ‘People say, “What did you research for the Roman Empire?” I said “Nothing.” I looked at some pictures and thought, “Let this work.” 

‘The biggest investment I ever made in my career was to go to an extremely good art school. And that has fed me all my life. “I never went to film school. And so I will look at a few pictures and I get transformation up here. And I work like that.”‘

The original film garnered an impressive 11 Oscar nominations and five wins including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell, whose character met an untimely death at the end of the film.

Russell admitted he almost turned down Gladiator, but as soon as producer Walter Parkes told him Scott was at the helm, he was intrigued enough to open talks.

He told Variety in 2020: ‘I’d read the script and I thought it wasn’t a movie. But then Parkes said, “It’s 184 A.D., you’re a Roman general, and you’re going to be directed by Ridley Scott.”

‘And that was enough for me to want to talk to Ridley.’ 

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