Denzel Washington is in final negotiations to join Ridley Scott’s upcoming “Gladiator” sequel, reteaming after 2007’s “American Gangster.”
If the deal closes, the two-time Academy Award winner would join newly minted Oscar nominees Paul Mescal and Barry Keoghan, whose participation in the Paramount Pictures film broke Thursday.
Paramount has dated the film for November 22, 2024.
David Scarpa is penning the script for the sequel, which Scott will direct and produce with Michael Pruss via Scott Free, as well as Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher via Red Wagon Entertainment. Executive producers are Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. Also returning from the original film are cinematographer John Mathieson, production designer Arthur Max and costume designer Janty Yates.
The sequel follows 2000’s blockbuster hit “Gladiator,” which was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won five, including best picture. It earned $460 million at the box office. The film starred Russell Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridius, a Roman soldier forced into slavery who vows revenge against Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Since Maximus dies at the end of “Gladiator,” Mescal will play Lucius, the son of Maximus’ lover Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), in the sequel. Keoghan is in negotiations to play Emperor Geta. Washington’s role is being kept under wraps.
Washington most recently starred in “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” a performance which earned him a ninth Oscar nomination for acting. (He has 10 total, including a best picture nod as producer of “Fences.”) He’ll next be seen in the upcoming “Equalizer 3,” which is set to be released later this year by Sony.
News that the A-list actor will join Scott’s buzzy sequel shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the critical and box office success their first collaboration, “American Gangster,” which earned more than $265 million at the box office, netted nominations at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, and also starred Crowe. But also of note is Washington’s close ties to the Scott family, as he appeared in several films directed by Ridley’s late brother Tony Scott, prior to his death in 2012, including “Crimson Tide,” “Man on Fire,” “Deja Vu,” “The Taking of Pelham 123” and “Unstoppable.”
Washington is repped by WME. Deadline was first to report news of his potential involvement.