To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the historical action drama Gladiator, the cast and crew of the film sat down with Variety to reminiscence about the time spent making the movie. Director Ridley Scott discussed how the lead actors would often put their own personal spin on the dialogs, as Russell Crowe did during a major battle in the first act.
"In the first act, the battle of Germania, Russell's saying, "What the bloody hell am I gonna say?" And I said, "Well, there's going to be a bird on a twig and you're going to look at this robin and how ironic this robin is in this field of battle where we're going to see a bloodbath." So he went, "OK" and he looks at this twig and imagines a robin. Then he said, "But what the f- am I gonna say?" I said, "I don't know, why don't you just say "Hmm, morning! it looks like snow."
In the case of actress Connie Nielsen, who played the role of a member of the royal family, Lucilla, certain phrases in the original script were so out of place for the era in which the movie was set that she felt compelled to modify her dialogs to something more fitting.
"Ridley calls me from Shepperton, [England] and says, "Connie, would you let me know what you think about the rewrite?" and I pointed out to him that there were some serious inaccuracies in the structure. For example, I had a line where it just said "the police state" and it's like "Um, police state? Do you want me to actually use that phrase?" or the phrase "put it in a museum." I don't think at the time that people considered the word museum the same way we consider a museum today."
Finally, for Djimon Hounsou, the actor felt that the very nature of his character needed to be tweaked into something more in line with the social constructs that existed during the time of the roman empire, rather than simply being defined as the head of the king's slaves.
"The initial script had me being the head of slaves during that time and I said, "I shouldn't be the definition of slavery." Slavery didn't exist back then, so, what are we talking about, really? We're talking about using humans to do that sort of fighting entertainment and all those people were considered slaves."
The cast further discussed how the script for the film was constantly going through edits, with actors often receiving new lines on the spot. Despite the haphazard approach, the movie morphed into something truly special in the expert hands of director Ridley Scott, grossing close to half a billion dollars at the box office, and garnering acclaim across multiple awards shows, including an Oscar for Best Actor for Russell Crowe, and Best Director for Scott.
Gladiator was returning to theaters to celebrate its 20th Anniversary. Orchestrated by Fathom Events, the screenings had to be canceled due to the worldwide crisis we are all currently facing. At this time, the rerelease has not been rescheduled.
A sequel to the classic film has long been in the works, with Scott mentioning back in 2017 that he had an idea for what the storyline for a followup movie would be, and was trying to convince Russell Crowe to reprise his role as General Maximus for the same. The plot for the sequel is said to center around Lucius, son of Lucilla. This news comes direct from Variety.