Ridley Scott couldn’t stop thinking about Paul Mescal after watching Normal People, so he cast him in Gladiator 2

Ridley Scott / Paul Mescal
(Image credit: Getty Images/BBC)

Ridley Scott says the decision to cast Paul Mescal as the lead of Gladiator 2 was all down to Normal People. 

Mescal will play Commodus' nephew Lucius in the long-awaited sequel to the beloved first movie. Scott, who is on the cover of the new issue of Total Film magazine, opened up about finding Mescal for the role.

"Can I see Paul Mescal being as big as Russell Crowe? For sure," Scott tells Total Film in our new issue, which hits newsstands on October 12. "I watched Normal People. It’s not my kind of show but I saw four episodes in a row – boom, boom, boom. I was thinking, 'Who the hell is this Paul Mescal?' 

"And then I watched the whole series. And then, suddenly, Gladiator 2 came up, because the script was working pretty well. And I kept thinking about Paul. And that was it."

Elsewhere in our comprehensive interview with the legendary director, Scott also opened up about why now is the right time to tell this sequel. "Why now? It didn’t have a script [before]. We tried, actually, four years ago, and I chose a very good writer who couldn’t get his head around it. He wrestled. He was terribly upset that he didn’t deliver. He’s a friend of mine. I said, 'You’re not getting there?' He said, 'No.'

"That took 10 months. So it went dead. And then we circled the wagons again, coming back with a very obvious idea, and why not? There’s a survivor. The survivor is the son of the union between Lucilla and Maximus."

Aside from Aftersun star Mescal, the sequel boasts an incredible supporting cast, including Denzel Washington, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou, Joseph Quinn, Pedro Pascal, and May Calamawy. Production kicked off on Gladiator 2 earlier this year, but filming was paused amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.

Gladiator 2 has a current release date of November 22, 2024. For much more on Scott and his incredible body of work, feast your eyes on the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves and digital newsstands on Thursday, October 12. Check out the covers below:

Total Film's Ridley Scott covers

(Image credit: Scott Council/Total Film)

Pre-order the issue here to bag your copy, or click here to subscribe to Total Film and never miss another exclusive. With our latest offer, you can get an STM Charge Tree worth £69.99 when you take out a print/bundle subscription. You'll also get exclusive subscriber-only covers (like the one on the right, above).

Total Film

(Image credit: Future)
Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror. 

With contributions from