Denzel Washington to Co-Star in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator Sequel

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Image: Sony Pictures

The original Gladiator seems impossible to live up to, but its chances appear to have gotten a little higher thanks to the addition of a surprising cast member. According to sources with Deadline, Denzel Washington, one of today’s greatest living actors, is in final negotiations to co-star in the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Oscar Best Picture winner for Paramount. Scott is returning to produce, and while Washington’s role remains under wraps, he’ll be joining Normal People star Paul Mescal, who was locked for the project earlier this year to play Lucius, the son of Connie Nielsen (Lucilla) and Joaquin Phoenix’s (Commodus) characters. Denzel Washington and Ridley Scott teamed almost 16 years ago for American Gangster, a 2007 biographical crime film that saw Washington take on the role of Frank Lucas, a gangster who got rich off of smuggling heroin. Russell Crowe, who is best known for playing Maximus in Gladiator, co-starred in the drama, which has a 7.8 rating on iMDB.

From a Deadline report:

Once Mescal was locked for the project, Scott and Paramount Pictures President & CEO Brian Robbins and Co-Presidents Daria Cercek and Michael Ireland pushed hard for a star for the other major role in the film and took a shot with Washington, the two-time Oscar winner. When the offer was first presented there it was unknown whether he would actually do it; Washington is known for his great taste in projects and doesn’t sign up for anything. But after reading the script, sources close to the project said he was excited about the bad-ass role Scott had written with him in mind.

A meeting with Scott soon followed, and after the director gave his pitch, Washington was all but on board.

Washington has always had strong ties not only to Ridley but also the Scott family, starring in several films of Ridley’s late brother Tony prior to his death in 2012. After working on Tony Scott thrillers like Crimson Tide and Man on Fire, Washington finally teamed with Ridley Scott on the 2007 crime thriller American Gangster (ironically, that film also starred Crowe). It was a box office hit, and for years Washington and Scott have been looking for that next big thing on which to team.

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Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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