Fresh off his Oscar nomination for The Banshees Of Inisherin—and a highly eye-catching cameo as “I am legally not yet The Joker” in The Batman—actor Barry Keoghan has reportedly lined up his next blockbuster part. Keoghan is apparently set to co-star in Gladiator 2, reportedly joining fellow Oscar nominee Paul Mescal in Ridley Scott’s follow-up to the 2000 historical epic.
This is per THR, which notes that Keoghan’s casting is still in the “in talks” stages, meaning that Scott’s vision of an apparently very Irish version of ancient Rome still might not come together. While Mescal (lately of Aftersun) will be playing an all-grown-up version of Spencer Treat Clark’s character Lucius from the original film, Keoghan is apparently in the running to play the Emperor Geta. Given that the original Gladiator is essentially fan-fiction of the Roman empire written by someone who glanced at the actual histories exactly long enough to scribble down a few names, it’s not clear how much of the actual Geta will be in Keoghan’s role. Although it’s worth noting that his story does have some pretty juicy details to mine: Placed on the throne by his military dictator father (who took the job after winning the civil war that broke out after the death of Emperor Joaquin Phoenix in 192 AD), Geta was supposed to rule alongside his brother, and instead got murdered by him within the span of a year.
The hopeful upshot of this is that we’ll get to see Keoghan—an actor of considerable range and skill who is also one of modern cinema’s great purveyors of creep-out—go full megalomaniacal tyrant here. Having him bounce off Mescal is all the better; provided he actually takes the role, we’re expecting to raise our expectations for the sequel—currently dolloped down on the Paramount schedule in November of 2024—from “Why the fuck are they making a Gladiator sequel?” to “Shit, we might have to watch the Gladiator sequel.”