Ridley Scott's Gladiator sequel has reportedly landed a new lead star. According to Deadline, Irish actor Paul Mescal is in talks to play an older Lucius, who was played by Spencer Treat Clark in the original film. The outlet notes that Mescal is said to have had a meeting with Scott months ago, but has remained the director's top choice for the part.
Gladiator was released in 2000 and quickly became one of the most well-regarded films in the modern era of cinema. In the film, Russell Crowe stars as Maximus Decimus Meridius, "a once-powerful general forced to become a common gladiator. The emperor's son is enraged when he is passed over as heir in favor of his father's favorite general. He kills his father and arranges the murder of the general's family, and the general is sold into slavery to be trained as a gladiator – but his subsequent popularity in the arena threatens the throne."
The film also starred the late Richard Harris as emperor Marcus Aurelius, Joaquin Phoenix as his conniving son Commodus, and Connie Nielsen as Maximus' love Lucilla, Lucius' mother and Commodus' elder sister. It is unlikely that Crowe and Phoenix will return, as they both died at the end of the original film. Along with Scott, the original film's costume designer, Janty Yates, and production designer, Arthur Max, are also returning to their behind-the-scenes roles.
Mescal is an actor who has been on the rise for the past few years, turning critically acclaimed performances in the BBC Three/Hulu limited series Normal People and the 2022 psychological drama God's Creatures. Most recently, he turned up in the A24 drama Aftersun, about a young father attempting to reconnect with his daughter. In an interview with GQ, Mescal offered his thoughts on the film and shared what it was about the script that initially drew him to the project.
"The screenplay itself is a work of art that I was blown away by," he said. "I also just loved the character. I felt a deep desire to play him. I know I'm not a dad or anything like that, but I just felt a kind of connection, a real desire to at least have a shot at putting my case forward to Charlotte [Wells, director]. Thankfully, I did. We had a great Zoom and spoke about what I think Calum means to me, what he's going through and how he's such, I think, an amazing father for 95% of the film."