Russell Crowe Reveals Gladiator’s Maximus Nearly Had A Different Fate


by Ben Travis |
Published on

This year marks 20 years since Gladiator hit the big screen – Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe teaming up to deliver an era-defining historical epic that combined large-scale practical filmmaking with pioneering CGI effects. If the finished film became an Oscar-winning favourite, the script underwent major overhauls mere weeks prior to production – with Scott and Crowe between them conducting much of the rewrites, feeling their way through the shoot. In the new issue of Empire, out now, Crowe talked about the making of Maximus and more – and confirmed that his vengeful hero wasn’t always fated for the grave.

In the original screenplay, Maximus Decimus Meridius survived to the final credits – but as Crowe and Scott reworked the story, they saw no option but to have him die. “That ‘My name is Maximus…’ speech is basically a suicide note,” Crowe tells Empire. “I remember Ridley coming up to me on set saying, ‘Look, the way this is shaping up, I don’t see how you live. This character is about one act of pure vengeance for his wife and child, and, once he’s accomplished that, what does he do?’ And my joke used to be, ‘Yeah, what does Maximus do? Does he end up running a fucking pizzeria by the Colosseum?’ He has a singular purpose, which is to meet his wife in the afterlife and apologise for not being there for her. And that’s it.”

Empire June 2020 – issue preview

Read Empire’s full Gladiator story in the Wonder Woman 1984 issue – on sale now, and available in print and digitally. Read here for more information on picking up a copy while social distancing.

Empire – June 2020 cover – Wonder Woman 1984
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