Blood, guts, honour, treachery, a killer soundtrack, fantastic tigers and some hands running through wheat. It can only be Ridley Scott’s epic tale of revenge, Gladiator. Russell Crowe brings the kind of intense stare and gravelly authority he is well known for to the role of Maximus Decimus Meridius, an extremely high-ranking General in the Roman military who is wronged (a gentle way of saying his family was slaughtered) and goes on a kind of historic Taken-type rampage of revenge which sees him forced to become a Gladiator and fight his way to the top for a chance to take out the weasley Emperor Commodus. Luckily his years of military experience have left Maximus pretty handy with a sword and an ability to command and lead troops (in this case his fellow combatants) make his showdown with pre-Joker famed Joaquin Phoenix not that tall of an ask. The film was a champion in its own right taking in $457 million worldwide and winning five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor for Crowe, and Best Visual Effects.
But did you know…
1) A sequel has long been discussed, with talks of Russell Crowe somehow returning. Nick Cave (of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fame and also writer of The Proposition) penned a draft that saw Maximus in purgatory and brought back to life by the Roman Gods to kill Jesus Christ and his followers. The film would end with Crowe, immortal, working in the Pentagon – the draft, obviously, never made it into production. In 2017, Scott stated that they had found a way to bring back Crowe’s character and the film was green-lit in 2018 with no real news since.
2) Crowe signed on to the film for the chance to work with Scott, despite the fact that he was, to put it lightly, not overjoyed with the film’s script, “Gladiator was kind of a unique experience because the script that they had was so bad. It was just so bad you know?”
3) Oliver Reed passed away during filming with many of his vital scenes not completed. Rather than reshoot everything, adding extra costs and time to the shoot, the filmmakers digitally added Reed’s head to body doubles, cleverly reusing pre-existing footage of the actor and utilising shadows where necessary.