Ridley Scott teases Denzel Washington’s role in Gladiator 2: "He’s a rich guy carrying a grudge"

Denzel Washington / Gladiator
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Ahead of the release of his new epic Napoleon, director Ridley Scott sits down with Total Film to discuss his past, present, and future projects, including the long-awaited follow-up to his 2000s smash hit Gladiator. The sequel stars Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal, Barry Keoghan, and Denzel Washington, whose role has been left unclear, until now.

"As for Denzel’s character… There were businesses of gladiators who could indeed earn their freedom if they stayed alive. That was the deal," Scott tells Total Film magazine in the new issue, which hits newsstands on Thursday, October 12, and features the director on the cover, "So we went right into that, in-depth. Where did he come from? How was he taken? He was branded with marks and registered with a brand on his chest as a slave. So that’s how he comes into the story."

The process of a Gladiator winning back his freedom was explored heavily in the original movie, where the once-powerful general Maximus, played by Russell Crowe, is forced to become a common gladiator after being sold into slavery.

Scott then goes on to explain how Washington’s character is unforgiving towards Romans because of what has happened to him in the past. "He’s a rich guy who’s still carrying a grudge," Scott concludes. 

The director went on to state his admiration for the Hollywood star, adding: "I respect Denzel Washington tremendously. I shouldn’t call Denzel a golden oldie – he’d fucking kill me – but he’s gold dust." This will be the second time the pair work together after Washington starred in Scott’s 2007 masterpiece American Gangster. 

Gladiator 2 is set to release sometime in 2024 and will follow the nephew (Mescal) of Commodus who was saved by Maximus in the original. 

Scott’s upcoming movie Napoleon opens in cinemas on November 24. For much more on Napoleon and Ridley Scott, 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 a JOBY Magnetic Wireless Charger worth £29.95 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. 

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