Already have an account?
Get back to the

Shirtless Paul Mescal Takes Center Stage Going Up Against Pedro Pascal in ‘Gladiator II’ Trailer 

Gladiator II is making sure fans will be entertained come this fall.

“Rage is your gift,” Denzel Washington tells Paul Mescal in the movie’s trailer, which was released by Paramount on Tuesday, July 9. The Irish star totally transformed — abs and all — to go up against Pedro Pascal in the sequel to the 2000 historical epic.

After Mescal declares that he wishes to go up against the “entire Roman Army,” the trailer took a more modern turn playing “No Church in the Wild” by Jay-Z, Kanye West and Frank Ocean (a callback to 2014’s The Great Gatsby, perhaps).

The sequel is directed and coproduced by Ridley Scott, who also directed the original film, with a script written by David Scarpa. The story follows Lucius (Mescal), the former heir of the Roman Empire, who becomes a gladiator after his home is invaded by the Roman army, led by general Marcus Acacius (Pedro Pascal) during the reign of coemperors Caracalla (Fred Hechinger) and Geta (Joseph Quinn). Washington, meanwhile, portrays Macrinus, a very wealthy arms dealer who uses gladiators for sport.

It’s clear that the movie will feature many a montage of Washington training Mescal as his muse to take on Pascal in the Colosseum. While the final battle is only teased, it seems things will get bloody as the protagonists go head to head. There is also a callback to the original Gladiator when Connie Nielsen as Lucilla gives Mescal the late Maximus’ ring.

Everything to Know About ‘Gladiator 2’

Related: 'Gladiator 2': Everything to Know

Gladiator II was discussed as early as 2001, but development was halted when DreamWorks sold the rights and property to Paramount in 2006. The official rollout for the sequel began in 2018 and Mescal was cast as the lead role in January 2023. The movie comes after the 2000 film, which starred Russell Crowe, earned five Oscars and 11 nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor.

While the role remains his only Oscar, Crowe, 60, has made it clear he won’t be returning as Maximus. Those who know the film shouldn’t be surprised, as — spoiler alert — his character baited opponent Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) into the Colosseum during the movie’s final act, killing him before dying of wounds he sustained in the battle.

“They should be f—king paying me for the amount of questions I am asked about a film I am not even in,” Crowe joked at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival earlier this year. “It has nothing to do with me. In that world, I am dead. Six feet under. But I do admit to a certain tinge of jealousy, because it reminds me of when I was younger and what it meant for me, in my life.”

Watch Paul Mescal and Pedro Pascal TK TK in Gladiator 2 Trailer 405
Aidan Monaghan/Paramount Pictures

Despite not being able to step back into the world of the Roman Empire, Crowe noted that the film was more than deserving of a follow up feature. “I don’t know anything about the cast, I don’t know anything about the plot. I am dead! But I know that if Ridley has decided to do a second part of the story, over 20 years later, he must have had very strong reasons,” Crowe continued. “I can’t think of this movie being anything other than spectacular.”

What Is the Best Marvel Movie of All Time?

As for passing the mantle on to Mescal, Scott told Vanity Fair last month that he became interested in the actor while watching his 2020 Hulu limited series, Normal People.

“When I watch anything, I tend to be clocking who’s interesting,” he told the outlet at the time. “It’s just in my DNA. And so, watching a TV show that’s not really my kind of TV show almost four years ago, I said, ‘Who’s this guy?’”

When Gladiator II became more of a tangent possibility, Scott said the duo met up on Zoom — and the rest is history.  “I met with him and he said, ‘Of course, I’d love to do it.’ And that was it,” he recalled. “We were away and running with the ball. He was a special find. He was absolutely perfect.”

A Guide to Summer 2024 s Biggest Blockbuster Movies Twisters Deadpool and Wolverine and More 086

Related: Us’ Complete Guide to Summer’s Biggest Blockbuster Movies

Mescal, for his part, confirmed that he and Scott only spoke “for about 20 to 30 minutes” before the plan was set in motion.

“I wanted to get a flavor from him about what the story was going to be about, so we spent about 15 minutes talking about that, and then we spent another 10 minutes talking about the sport that I played growing up — Gaelic football,” he explained. “Maybe that was something that helped with it, in that I’m used to being physical in my body.”

Mescal noted that the official offer for the role came in about “two or three weeks later.” He also credited his nose — it’s ”kind of Roman,” he told VF — for being the right fit for Lucius. “The nose that I absolutely hated when I was in secondary scho l — and used to get ribbed for — became very, very useful when Ridley needed somebody to be in Gladiator II,” he quipped.

Gladiator II hits theaters on November 22.

In this article

Got a Tip form close button
Got a tip for US?
We're All Ears for Celebrity Buzz!