Want to know an easy way to make a good movie even better? Add Denzel Washington to the cast. Take the sequel to Gladiator, for instance. It already stars Paul Mescal and Barry Keoghan, a fellow Academy Award nominee, is in talks to join him. Sounds like a good movie, right? I’d watch it. But now add Denzel Washington, and I’m there opening night.
Deadline reports that Washington is “in final negotiations” to star in director Ridley Scott’s sequel to Gladiator, which won Best Picture at the 2001 Oscars. His casting came about because, well, it’s Denzel freaking Washington.
Also, once Mescal was on board, producers “pushed hard for a star for the other major role in the film and took a shot with Washington.” After reading the script, the actor, who previously worked with Scott on 2007’s American Gangster, became excited about the roll that was “written with him in mind.”
Mescal won’t be replacing Crowe’s Maximus, whose character met his end in the original film. Instead he plays Lucius, the son of Lucilla (played by Connie Nielsen), as a grown man as the story takes place years after the first film ended. Lucius also was the nephew of Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the son of Roman leader Marcus Aurelius who murdered his father and seized the throne.
Washington’s role is being kept under wraps, but apparently playing a “badass.” Denzel Washington? As a bad-ass? I dunno, I’ll believe it when I see it.