“I think that all of us are just gonna have to look at that as a separate, different film.”
Gladiator was a box office smash that scored five Academy Awards including the Oscar for Best Picture, but it didn’t really seem like the type of big screen hit prime for a sequel. Especially considering its hero, Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe), doesn’t survive the events of the film. But, then November 2018 rolls around, suggesting there is sequel potential for Gladiator after all. That’s when we first heard that Ridley Scott had “begun forward progress” on Gladiator 2 with The Town and Top Gun: Maverick scribe Peter Craig.
At the time, reports claimed that their plan would be to continue the story via Lucius (Spencer Treat Clark), the son of Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla and the nephew of Joaquin Phoenix’s corrupt, sadistic Commodus, a promising premise given the impression Maximus likely made on him.
But that news dropped over two years ago now. Is Gladiator 2 still really on the table? We posed that question to Connie Nielsen herself during an episode of Collider Ladies Night. Here’s what she told us:
“I know that it’s on the ledger, so let’s just see when Ridley – I know he had to do one or two other movies, and then I think it’s on the ledger after that, but I’m not quite sure where it’s at right now.”
While Nielsen couldn’t offer up a concrete timeline, describing the film’s status as “on the ledger” offers hope that the project is still in play. As for Nielsen’s involvement in the film, here’s what she said when asked if she’d be eager to return and continue Lucilla’s story:
“It would obviously be amazing, and I know that a lot of people want to see more of that. And I think that all of us are just gonna have to look at that as a separate, different film, you know? But with some of the emotions and values that made Gladiator so powerful for so many people, which I really think were the underlying values that we were talking about. Tyranny versus freedom, and the willingness to do what needs to be done in order to free a people. And I don’t think that it would have been the same if it had just been a spectacle. It had to exist within a sphere of values.”
Nielsen’s been part of a number of very hot titles over the years ranging from The Devil’s Advocate to joining the DC film franchise as Queen Hippolyta in Wonder Woman, but she did emphasize that Gladiator seems to have made an especially big impression on moviegoers:
“I cannot tell you the countless times where I’ve seen people come up to me – and one day I’ll tell you some really cool stories about that – [they] would come up to me and start reciting back our dialogue because it touched them, it moved them. And so I think that’s where [screenwriter] David Franzoni from the beginning just brought that core feeling of how ideas can inspire us.”
Yes, Gladiator is a significant highlight of Nielsen’s filmography, but it’s one of many projects that led to her two upcoming releases – Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the Bob Odenkirk headliner, Nobody. If you’d like to hear more about her journey from working opposite Jerry Lewis to making Mission to Mars with Brian de Palma and training for Wonder Woman, keep an eye out for her full Ladies Night conversation dropping on Collider on Friday, March 18th.
Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington also star in the YA adaptation.
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