“Normal People” star Paul Mescal, coming off indie film “Aftersun” which topped numerous critical ‘Best Films of 2022’ lists and has won multiple awards, is in negotiations to play the lead role in Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator” sequel at Paramount Pictures.

The project is a follow-up to Scott’s 2000 feature which won the Best Picture Oscar and dealt with Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe), a former general forced into becoming a gladiator under the rule of the self-appointed Roman Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix).

As Crowe’s character died at the end of the first film, reports suggest the sequel’s story will center on Lucius – the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and nephew of Commodus.

Mescal reportedly beat out the likes of “Elvis” star Austin Butler, “Dune” star Timothee Chalamet, “Top Gun: Maverick” actor Miles Teller and former “Game of Thrones” alum Richard Madden who all auditioned for the role.

David Scarpa, who has worked with Scott on “All The Money In the World” and the just shot “Napoleon”, is writing the script. Scott, Michael Pruss, Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher will produce.

As the first film is a co-production with Universal, that studio has the option to co-produce the sequel. The original grossed $460 million at the box office.

Scott is finishing up his “Napoleon” biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix, with the “Gladiator” follow-up to be his next project. It’s expected filming will commence sometime later this year.

Source: THR

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