Russell Crowe reveals initial skepticism of Gladiator script in new interview with Vanity Fair

Russell Crowe’s initial reaction to the script for Ridley Scott’s 2000 epic Gladiator may come as a surprise to many fans of the film. After all, the movie went on to become a critical and commercial success, grossing over $460 million worldwide and earning Crowe his first and only Academy Award for Best Actor.

In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Crowe revealed that he was less than impressed with the initial script for the film, calling it “rubbish” and “absolute rubbish”. The New Zealand-born performer said that he was confident in his abilities as a leading man, but he had reservations about the world that surrounded him in the film.

“At the core of what we were doing was a great concept, but the script, it was rubbish. Absolute rubbish,” Crowe said. “It had all these sort of strange sequences, and one of them was about chariots and famous gladiators [who] use certain types of chariots, and some famous gladiators had endorsement deals with products for olive oil and things like that, and it’s all true, but it’s just not going to ring right to a modern audience. They’re going to go, ‘What the f— is all this?'”

Despite his reservations, Crowe stuck with the project and went on to deliver a powerful performance as Maximus Decimus Meridius, a Roman general who is betrayed by his emperor and forced to become a gladiator. Crowe’s portrayal of Maximus earned him widespread critical acclaim and cemented his status as a leading man in Hollywood.

In the interview, Crowe also discussed the challenges he faced on set during the making of the film. He described the energy around the project as “very fractured” and said that there were times when he considered walking away from the production.

“I did think, a couple times, maybe my best option is just to get on a plane and get out of here, you know?” Crowe said. “But I never did. I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did.”

Read also: The Covenant stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim as two men stranded in enemy territory

More Than Crowe Expected

Gladiator went on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Crowe, and Best Director for Scott. The film’s success helped to launch Crowe’s career to new heights and established him as one of the most talented actors of his generation.

In hindsight, it’s hard to imagine anyone else portraying the role of Maximus in Gladiator. Crowe’s performance was powerful, nuanced, and unforgettable, and it helped to elevate the film to a level of greatness that few could have predicted. Despite his initial reservations about the project, Crowe’s decision to stick with Gladiator proved to be a wise one, and his performance in the movie will be remembered for years to come.

Now, over two decades after its release, Scott is working on a sequel to Gladiator, which will star Denzel Washington, Barry Keoghan, and Paul Mescal as Lucius, the son of Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla. Crowe has expressed his excitement about the project, but also a hint of jealousy that he won’t be involved.

“The only thing that I really feel about it is slightly jealous, you know?” Crowe told Collider in April. “Because I was a much younger man, obviously, and it was a huge experience in my life. It’s something that changed my life, really. It changed the way people regarded me and what I do for a living.”

While Crowe may not be involved in the Gladiator sequel, his impact on the original film and the world of cinema as a whole is undeniable. His commitment to the project, even in the face of doubt and uncertainty, helped to create a cinematic masterpiece that continues to captivate audiences today.

Read also: Netflix Says Goodbye to DVD Rentals: Time to Switch to Streaming


In the year 2000, Scott brought to the screen one of the most epic films of all time – Gladiator. Set in ancient Rome, the movie follows the story of Maximus Decimus Meridius, a respected general in the Roman army, who is betrayed by the jealous Emperor Commodus and forced to become a gladiator.

The film stars Russell Crowe in the lead role of Maximus, with Joaquin Phoenix playing Commodus, the treacherous son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Connie Nielsen plays Lucilla, the sister of Commodus and former lover of Maximus, and Oliver Reed gives a memorable performance as Proximo, the owner of a gladiator training school.

Gladiator was a huge success both critically and commercially, grossing over $460 million at the box office and earning 12 Academy Award nominations, ultimately winning five including Best Picture, Best Actor for Crowe, and Best Visual Effects.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is its production design, which authentically recreates ancient Rome with stunning attention to detail. The battle scenes are especially impressive, with thousands of extras and intricate choreography bringing the gladiatorial combat to life on screen.

But it’s not just the action that makes Gladiator such a captivating film – it’s the emotional depth of its characters and themes. Maximus is a man of honor and integrity, driven by a desire for justice and revenge for the murder of his family. Commodus, on the other hand, is consumed by jealousy and greed, willing to do anything to hold onto his power.

The film also explores themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and redemption, as Maximus forms bonds with his fellow gladiators and becomes a symbol of hope for the people of Rome. His ultimate goal is not just to defeat Commodus, but to restore the honor of Rome and protect the innocent.

Gladiator is a true cinematic masterpiece, a sweeping epic that combines thrilling action with powerful storytelling and unforgettable performances. Its legacy has endured over two decades, and it continues to inspire and entertain audiences around the world.

Photo: Newsweek