Gladiator 2 | Paul Mescal will ‘fight a pack of baboons’

Gladiator 2 baboons
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Evidently disturbed by baboons, Ridley Scott has put a pack of them in Gladiator 2. “Baboons are carnivores,” the director says.

We were already looking forward to Gladiator 2, Ridley Scott’s belated follow-up to his 2000 sword-and-sandal epic. But now along comes a story detail that has us anticipating the film even more – it will, he’s revealed, see its hero fighting a ‘pack of baboons’.

The tidbit of information comes via a profile at The New Yorker, in which Ridley Scott, on the promotional trail for this month’s biopic Napoleon, talks about the making of that film, his work to date, and what he has coming up next. Like so many other projects in Hollywood and elsewhere, the production of Gladiator 2 has been held up somewhat by the actors’ strikes, but Scott reveals that he has around 90 minutes of footage already shot, which he’s been ‘polishing’ in the interim.

It’s within this 90 minutes of footage that, The New Yorker reveals, sits a sequence in which “the hero fights a pack of baboons” – that hero being Paul Mescal, who plays the fully-grown Lucius, last played as a kid by Spencer Treat Clark in the original Gladiator.

This baboon attack was seemingly conceived by Scott himself – he’d seen a ‘video of baboons attacking tourists in Johannesburg’ and was evidently struck by it.

“Baboons are carnivores,” Scott said. “Can you hang from that roof for two hours by your left leg? No! But a baboon can.”

Not so long ago, we were pondering the loss of Nick Cave’s proposed Gladiator sequel, which was written but never got the greenlight. It would have seen Russell Crowe return as Maximus, this time despatched from the hereafter on a mission to kill Jesus Christ, only to fail said mission and wind up working at the Pentagon. It’s a pity the world will never see that deliciously weird sequel idea, we thought. But then again, it almost certainly didn’t feature a baboon attack, so it probably evens out.

Assuming it isn’t delayed by strikes or something, Gladiator 2 should be in cinemas on 22 November 2024. In the meantime, do give that New Yorker piece a read. It’s a fascinating insight into the director and his extraordinary body of work – not to mention his opinions on baboons.

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