Russell Crowe Almost Left Gladiator Role Due to “Absolute Rubbish” Original Script

Russell Crowe called the original script for Ridley Scott’s 2000 historical action blockbuster Gladiator “absolute rubbish” and considered dropping the career-defining role until substantial cuts were made.

“I was confident about my abilities as a leading man,” Crowe said in an interview reflecting on his past film roles with Vanity Fair. “What I wasn’t confident about with Gladiator was the world that was surrounding me. At the core of what we were doing was a great concept but the script, it was rubbish. Absolute rubbish.”

To his point, the Australian actor — who won his first and only Best Actor Oscar for playing Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius — gave an example of one of the “strange sequences” from Gladiator‘s original script that involved olive oil sponsorships on chariots. “That’s all true but it’s just not going to ring right to a modern audience,” he explained. ‘They’re going to go, ‘What the fuck is all this?’”

He admitted to asking himself if “maybe my best option is just to get on a plane and get out of here,” but credited the “continued conversations with Ridley that sort of gave me faith” to stick with the project. Watch the interview below; Crowe’s comments on Gladiator begin around the 4:55 mark.

Ridley Scott is currently working on the Gladiator sequel starring Paul Mescal, Barry Keoghan, and the recently cast Denzel Washington. It is set to release on November 22nd, 2024. Following those developments, Crowe shared via Collider that he was “slightly jealous” about the sequel.