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Russell Crowe nearly turned down 'Gladiator': "I thought it wasn't a movie"

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Russell Crowe has said he almost turned down his role in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, in which he plays Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius.

The actor spoke to Variety on the occasion of the film’s 20th anniversary, explaining his reservations with the script.

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“I’d read the script and I thought it wasn’t a movie,” Crowe began. “But then Parkes said, ‘It’s 184 A.D., you’re a Roman general, and you’re going to be directed by Ridley Scott.’ And that was enough for me to want to talk to Ridley.”

The Roman epic was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning five including Best Actor for Crowe and Best Picture.

On his preparation for the role, Russell Crowe explained the physical transformation. “I was just coming off the shoot of The Insider. I was gigantic,” he began.

“I had no hair because I had been wearing a wig on that movie, so I had shaved my head to make it more comfortable and the wigs go on quicker. I didn’t look like any Roman general.”

Paramount confirmed in 2018 a Gladiator sequel was in the works, with Ridley Scott and Peter Craig on board.

The story would take place 25-30 years after the events of the first film, focusing on Commodus’ nephew, Lucius. However, there has been no further update on the film’s progress since the initial announcement.

Elsewhere, Nick Cave had written a script for Gladiator 2 himself following a request from Crowe, and called it “a stone cold masterpiece” despite the knowledge it would never be made.

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