Frequent collaborators Denzel Washington and Ridley Scott are re-teaming for the upcoming sequel, Gladiator 2. It’s been 16 years since the actor and director worked together on the acclaimed American Gangster. However, according to Deadline, Washington is in final talks to star in the film. Reportedly, the Training Day Oscar winner is excited to “play another bad-ass role” that Scott had written for him.
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Paul Mescal is set to star alongside Washington, and Scott will step back into the director’s role. Scott, Michael Pruss (President of production company Scott Free), Doug Wick, and Lucy Fisher from Red Wagon Entertainment will produce the movie. David Scarpa is responsible for writing the script, while Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are executive producing it. Janty Yates and Arthur Max, both original costume designer and production designer respectively, are making a comeback in the sequel.
Universal gained the privilege of partnering with DreamWorks for the first movie. However, this time around, it won’t be included in production. Still, when the project is assembled and ready to go, Universal will have the right to join again.
After Mescal was confirmed, Scott sought to bring in an A-list celebrity for the other major role. Taking a chance on two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington proved to be successful.
Denzel Washington’s star power was sought out to anchor ‘Gladiator 2’
According to Deadline, no one knew if Washington would take on the offer; given his reputation for being selective with projects. However, upon reading the script and seeing how it was written specifically with him in mind, sources close to him said he couldn’t help but be excited about this bad-ass role. After the director’s enticing pitch to Scott, he was almost instantly on board.
The anticipated production follows the 2000 classic blockbuster Gladiator, which collected an impressive $460 million at the worldwide box office and was nominated for twelve Academy Awards – walking away with five wins including Best Picture.
Through the portrayal of Maximus, a general-turned-gladiator in Roman times, Russell Crowe earned an Academy Award for Best Actor and shot to fame as one of Hollywood’s top actors. Last year, when it became obvious that the sequel would be Scott’s next movie project, an array of male actors who fit the profile began to compete for the role. For now, the filmmakers are being tight-lipped about Denzel’s part.
Washington has had a long-standing relationship with the Scott family – specifically Ridley, but also his late brother Tony. He starred in several films of Tony’s prior to 2012 and then again collaborated with Ridley on American Gangster (which coincidentally also included Crowe). He also worked with Tony Scott in thrillers such as Crimson Tide and Man on Fire.
Denzel Washington was recently nominated for an Oscar for his role in The Tragedy of Macbeth. He’ll appear next in the third installment of the Equalizer, which will be released later this year.