Denzel Washington's Gladiator 2 Character Sounds Like He's Going To Leave An Impression 

Ridley Scott will turn 86 on November 30, and the man shows no signs of slowing down. The wildly prolific filmmaker's latest historical epic, "Napoleon," hits theaters on November 22, but he's already gearing up for his next massive undertaking.

I wouldn't say moviegoers were clamoring for "Gladiator 2" (except maybe for the period when musician Nick Cave was writing his evidently bonkers screenplay), but once Scott began casting the sequel to the 2000 Best Picture winner, many of us were suddenly all the way in. How's this for a powerhouse ensemble: Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal, Matt Lucas, Djimon Hounsou, Connie Nielsen, and Derek Jacobi (the last three reprising their roles from the first movie).

And, oh yeah, Denzel Washington.

This will mark the two-time Academy Award-winning actor's second collaboration with Scott after "American Gangster," and his mere involvement is enough to make this one of 2024's most anticipated films. But now that Scott has spilled the beans on his character's function in the film, I can't help but wonder if Oscar number three is in the offing.

A man of wealth and political ambitions

In an interview with Deadline, Scott revealed that Washington has been working out like a madman to get in shape for the film.

Denzel's working out hard. "That is his thing," said Scott. "I think it's his manner, and obviously he's actually in a bad mood. I think it's just the way he is. He tends to be abrupt. You got to get used to that. But nevertheless, he's quite charming."

You might be a tad surly, too, if you had to get buff for a film role at the age of 68. In any event, while it's hardly surprising to learn Washington is fully committed to nailing his part, the nature of his character sounds absolutely fascinating. According to Scott, he plays a former, very successful gladiator who ultimately earned his freedom and became a very wealthy businessman. How? I'll let Scott explain:

"[He's] a parallel character, the owner of a business that supplied weapons for the Romans, who supplied the oil when they traveled, who supplied the wine they drink. They wouldn't drink water, they drank wine. When they traveled, who would supply wagons and horses and tack? There had to be the arms dealers of the period; here is a man who [was] already rich from supplying the weapons, the catapults. His hobby is like a racing stable except it's gladiators. He's got a stable of 30 or 40 gladiators. He likes to actually see them fight and it evolves that that's where he came from."

Good guy, bad guy or somewhere in between?

Interestingly, Washington's character (who has yet to be named) conceals his past as a gladiator because he has ambitions that extend well beyond his business. "He's wealthier than most senators," said Scott. "So already has thoughts and designs of the possible idea of taking power from these two crazy princes."

So is this moneyed procurer who owns gladiators a good guy, a bad guy, or a sort of in-between rogue? I'm hoping it's the last option because Washington is never better than when he plays a morally complicated character (à la "Man on Fire" and "He Got Game"). I also dig it when he gets to hang back and toy with the protagonist.

According to Deadline, Scott will begin shooting "Gladiator 2" in a couple of weeks with an eye toward making a November 22, 2024 release date. Amazingly, once he wraps principal photography, he aims to start shooting his next movie next March, meaning he'll be in post-production on one project while filming the other. I don't mean to keep harping on his age, but this kind of work regimen would kick the butt of a young director.

Obviously, Scott knows he's only got so many opportunities ahead of him, so I'm thrilled he's making the most of the time he has left. New Ridley Scott movies are a blessed thing.

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