Before the tumultuous SAG-AFTRA and WGA labor strikes brought Tinseltown to a grinding halt, Ridley Scott managed to capture a precious 90-minute glimpse of his cinematic masterpiece, Gladiator 2. These snippets of brilliance were the fruits of Scott’s labor as he tirelessly edited the film amidst the labor disputes.
A tantalizing profile in The New Yorker offers an intriguing peek behind the scenes, revealing that as SAG-AFTRA and the studios engaged in tense negotiations, Scott was gearing up to resume filming Gladiator 2, starring the charismatic Paul Mescal, the very moment the strike found resolution. “I could be behind the camera on Monday,” he optimistically stated, only for the negotiations to unravel just a week later, dashing his hopes.
The treasure trove of footage captured prior to the strikes boasts a captivating scene featuring a face-off with a pack of ferocious baboons. The profile continues to explore Scott’s obsessive perfectionism, sharing that he had been meticulously refining the 90 minutes at his disposal. He revealed that a haunting video of baboons menacing tourists in Johannesburg had inspired the harrowing baboon encounter, pondering aloud, “Baboons are carnivores. Can you hang from that roof for two hours by your left leg? No! A baboon can.”
The highly-anticipated Gladiator sequel transpires several years after the original, with Paul Mescal stepping into the shoes of Lucius, a role once portrayed by Spencer Treat Clark in the year 2000. The stellar cast also features Pedro Pascal, who Mescal crossed paths with at LAX, though apprehension prevented him from approaching the acclaimed actor.
Mescal reminisced about the encounter with Esquire, an interview that took place before the SAG-AFTRA strike disrupted production. “He came up and just seemed so authentic,” Mescal confided, expressing his eagerness to spend time with Pascal.
Although details about the film remain shrouded in mystery due to the unfortunate work stoppage, Mescal did offer a tantalizing tidbit. “I think it’s exceptionally well-written, paying homage to the original, but it’s a canvas where I can comfortably paint my own strokes,” he remarked, hinting at the exciting prospect of making the character his own.