As new dispatches on the casting for Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sequel arrive daily, today’s rumor is Denzel Washington is in talks to join the Paul Mescal-led film.
The long-awaited sequel has high expectations given the success of the original 2000 blockbuster, which earned the Academy Award for Best Picture and $400 million at the box office. In addition to the announcement of Barry Keoghan’s impending casting in the film, Washington would definitely keep the excitement going.
According to Deadline, Washington is in “final negotiations” for the project. His casting came about as Paramount Pictures executives were seeking a big star for the major role opposite Mescal. Taking a shot in the dark, they sent the script to Washington, who “was excited about the bad-ass role Scott had written with him in mind.”
The exact details of Washington’s thrilling role remain unknown, but as the film follows a now-adult Lucius (Mescal), it’s likely the role is entirely new to the Gladiator universe. Keoghan is set to play the film’s major villain, Emperor Geta.
The Gladiator casting reunites Washington and Scott, who worked on the 2007 crime drama, American Gangster. Over his career, Washington has stayed close to the Scott family, also working alongside Ridley’s late brother, Tony Scott. Prior to starring in American Gangster, Washington held lead roles in Tony’s Crimson Tide and Man On Fire, and later Déjà Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009), and Unstoppable.
In the last five years, Washington’s work has been relatively sparse as he’s earned the luxury of being really choosy with his projects. Most recently, he led Joel Coen’s adaptation of The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021). In addition to Gladiator 2, Washington is slated to star in Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer 3, which reunites him with his Man On Fire co-star, Dakota Fanning.