- Ridley Scott cast Paul Mescal in Gladiator 2 after seeing his impressive performance in the Irish miniseries Normal People.
- Mescal’s role in Aftersun gained him recognition and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
- While Mescal is relatively unknown compared to Russell Crowe, Scott believes he has the potential to become a big name in the industry.
Acclaimed director Ridley Scott revealed how he cast the relatively unknown actor Paul Mescal as the lead in Gladiator 2. Following on from Scott’s original Academy Award-winning historical epic, the new Gladiator sequel will see Irish actor Mescal assume the role of Lucius, the nephew of the power-hungry Commodus played Joaquin Phoenix. A relatively new face in the movie industry, Mescal made his feature movie debut in 2021’s The Lost Daughter, written and directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Speaking with Total Film magazine (via Games Radar), Scott revealed that he first encountered Mescal while watching the 2020 Irish miniseries Normal People. While the director admitted the show was not his usual fare, he was struck by Mescal’s performance and felt compelled to cast him in Gladiator 2. He also suggested that he could potentially see the young actor becoming as big a name as original Gladiator star Russell Crowe. Check out his comments below:
“Can I see Paul Mescal being as big as Russell Crowe? For sure. 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.”
Will Paul Mescal Live Up To Russell Crowe’s Award-Winning Gladiator Performance?
While Crowe’s turn as the Roman general turned slave Maximus Decimus Meridius may have been the role responsible for introducing him to a broader international audience, the renowned Australian actor had already proven himself a confident and highly skilled performer long before Scott had ever cast him in 2000’s Gladiator. Aside from a slew of awards from his earlier years in Australian film and television, he earned a previous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in 1999’s The Insider with whom he had starred opposite Al Pacino.
In comparison, however, Scott’s new leading man has a much more abbreviated time in front of the cameras than Crowe ever did before he first set foot on the sands of the Colosseum. In that brief time, Mescal already managed to accumulate his own impressive collection of accolades, including an Emmy Award nomination for his work in Normal People, the very series that first caught Scott’s attention. However, his role in Aftersun slowly uplifted the actor’s career, even getting nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.
By all accounts, Mescal appears to have the talent necessary to deliver a memorable performance as the son of Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla. Whether his time in the spotlight will serve to deliver the same kind of critical acclaim that Crowe once earned remains to be seen, though Scott seems to have every confidence in Mescal as the new star of Gladiator 2.
Source: Total Film magazine (via Games Radar)