Denzel Washington is in talks to star in the hotly-anticipated Gladiator sequel. The film would reunite him with his American Gangster director, Ridley Scott. Deadline reports that Washington is in final negotiations to join the sword-and-sandal sequel to 2000’s Best Picture winner, in a role that Scott wrote with the star in mind.
Although the studio was apparently dubious that Washington would take the role, given tendency to be selective with his roles, he enjoyed the script and his reportedly “bad-ass” role. Once he met with Scott, he was reportedly “all but on board”. Details of Washington’s role are currently being kept under wraps. The film will also star Paul Mescal in the lead role of Lucius, the son of Connie Nielsen‘s Lucilla (played as a child by Spencer Treat Clark in the original film). Earlier this week it was revealed Barry Keoghan was in talks to play the film’s villain, Emperor Geta.
Washington’s first breakout role was on the medical dramedy St. Elsewhere, which he starred in from 1982 to 1988. He earned his first Oscar nomination playing anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in 1987’s Cry Freedom, and his first win came two years later, in the Civil War drama Glory. Known for the intensity of his performances, Washington has proven capable of balancing prestige fare with slick, commercial thrillers. He is a frequent collaborator with Spike Lee, having starred in Mo’ Better Blues, Malcolm X, He Got Game, and Inside Man, as well as with Antoine Fuqua, who directed him in Training Day (which netted Washington a Best Actor Oscar), The Magnificent Seven, and The Equalizer and its sequel.
Washington also collaborated with Ridley Scott’s late brother, director Tony Scott; the two worked together on the successful thrillers Crimson Tide, Man on Fire, Déjà Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123, and Unstoppable. Washington has also directed several films of his own, including Antwone Fisher, Fences, and A Journal for Jordan. He most recently starred in Joel Coen‘s The Tragedy of Macbeth; he will next appear in The Equalizer 3, which will be released this September.
Ridley Scott will produce Gladiator 2 with Scott Free president Michael Pruss; Doug Wick & Lucy Fisher via Red Wagon Entertainment will also produce. David Scarpa (The Last Castle, All the Money in the World) wrote the script. Costume designer Janty Yates and production designer Arthur Max will reprise their production roles from the original.
Stay tuned to Collider for future updates. Check out our interview with Washington below: