‘Gladiator 2’ casting readies for battle with two young Irish Oscar nominees

We shall be entertained!

The cast is shaping up for Sir Ridley Scott’s sequel to his Oscar-winning Roman action-drama “Gladiator.” The latest addition, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is Barry Keoghan, the 30-year-old (but can pass for 15) Irish actor recently nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his turn in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” His previous work includes creepy supporting roles in “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” “The Green Knight,” and a quick appearance as the Joker in “The Batman.”  

Keoghan is thought to be playing Emperor Publius Septimus Geta. I just looked the guy up on Wikipedia and I think I just had the ending of “Gladiator 2” spoiled in the opening paragraph, so advise against this! I suspect he will be the villain of the new picture.

Another hot relative newcomer in the cast is 27-year-old Irish actor Paul Mescal, similarly coming off an Oscar nomination. His was for Best Actor, for his performance in “Aftersun.” Word is that Mescal will be playing Lucius, the nephew of evil Joaquin Phoenix’s character from the first picture who looked up to Russell Crowe’s Maximus (who was also heavy with the kid’s mom, played Connie Nielson). Logic would suggest Lucius will be our hero, fighting for vengeance in the Coliseum and riding around the Circus Maximus.

“Gladiator” was an awards juggernaut upon its release in 2000. It was nominated for 12 Oscars and won five: Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, Best Costumes, Best Actor for Russell Crowe, and Best Picture for producers David Franzoni, Branko Lustig, and Douglas Wick.

Crowe was 34 when the film was shot in Great Britain, Morocco, and Malta. The New Zealand-born, Australia-raised actor was already a rising star — “The Insider” had been finished but not released — but the role of Maximus Decimus Meridius, the ex-slave turned murder-games champion, brought him the glory a virtuous Roman warrior deserves. His character, of course, does not survive the events of the film, but should Mescal or Keoghan consult some sort of Grecian oracle, it’s entirely possible Crowe’s essence could reappear as a vision or something in this new tale. We can only hope!

The new project’s script was written by David Scarpa, who collaborated with Scott on “All The Money in the World.” Some key department heads, like cinematographer John Mathieson, production designer Arthur Max and Oscar-winning costume designer Janty Yates are all returning, nearly 25 years later. 

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