Paul Mescal is ready to enter the arena.
The “Aftersun” and “Normal People” star is in talks to star in Ridley Scott’s hotly-anticipated sequel to “Gladiator,” the 2000 epic that made Russell Crowe a superstar and went on to win an Oscar for best picture. But the film isn’t a prequel and Mescal won’t be stepping into Crowe’s toga. After all, Maximus, Crowe’s character, died standing up for the Republic in the Colosseum — a spoiler only if you’ve somehow missed “Gladiator’s” endless re-runs on cable TV and hate to, you know, be entertained. Instead, Mescal will play Lucius, the son of Lucilla (played by Connie Nielsen in the original film).
Scott is returning to the world of swords and sandals and is expected to make this his next project. He will produce the picture, along with Scott Free President Michael Pruss and Red Wagon Entertainment’s Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher. David Scarpa wrote the screenplay. Paramount will produce the film. Universal, which backed the first movie along with DreamWorks, has the right to co-produce the movie once it has been set up.
Mescal has been earning Oscar buzz for his work as a troubled father in “Aftersun” and thrilled audiences with his turn as a brainy college student in “Normal People.” He earned an Emmy nomination for his work in that series. Mescal will appear in Andrew Haigh’s “Strangers” opposite Andrew Scott and Claire Foy, as well as Garth Davis’s “Foe” with Saoirse Ronan.
Before he ventures back to Rome, Scott is directing “Napoleon,” which stars Joaquin Phoenix as the French despot.
Mescal is represented by CAA and Curtis Brown. Deadline first reported that Mescal had been cast in the “Gladiator” sequel.