Paul Mescal Shares His ‘Gladiator II’ Training Routine (Exclusive)


Paul Mescal is hoping to do justice to Gladiator’s legacy in the upcoming sequel. 

The Gladiator II star, 28, recently spoke with ET about the highly anticipated film, which comes out this November and picks up several years after the events of the 2000 epic, which starred Russell Crowe as the slave-turned-warrior Maximus, who leads an uprising against the patricidal traitor-turned-emperor, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix).

“I think the main thing that I’m excited about is kind of the homage that it pays to the first one, but also the kind of new direction that the film takes,” he shared. “I think it’s well balanced in that regard — in terms of the physical action of the film and the balance of the kind of political aspects of the film as well.”

“It’s an immense honor — it’s not lost on me,” he said of continuing the film’s legacy with director Ridley Scott. “That film is hugely important to a lot of people across the world. And for the great Ridley Scott to kind of pass the baton on to me is something that, like, my drama school self or even the version of myself that was 15 watching the film for the first time, could never have imagined.”

Paul Mescal and Pedro Pascal face off in ‘Gladiator II.’Paramount Pictures

Mescal shared that he took on the role of Lucius Verus — Commodus’ nephew who was sent away from Rome as a boy by his mother, Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) — with a “great deal of pride.” When Lucius’ home in northern Africa is raided by the Roman army, he is brought back to Rome to fight in the Colosseum — which also required an intense amount of physical training.

“There was a lot of work that went into it,” the actor recalled. “Lots of lifting heavy things… lots of squatting, pushing, pulling. We didn’t kind of change the wheel with it, it was all kind of pretty standard in that regard, but I was keen for it not to look false or kind of overly aesthetic in any way.”

Working with Gladiator II’s all-star cast — which also includes Denzel WashingtonPedro Pascal, Joseph Quinn, Fred Hechinger and more — was a pivotal experience for the Irish actor.

“I think for a lot of us, especially the younger cohort of the cast, we would easily say that it’s a job that changed our lives,” he marveled. “We’re kind of waiting with bated breath (for the release), but the thing that I keep coming back to is, we’ve done it. We’ve gone and made it and nobody can take that away from us. And we had the king that is Ridley Scott at the helm — it’s amazing.”

Denzel Washington plays wealthy arms dealer Macrinus in ‘Gladiator II.’Paramount Pictures

As for his memories of the original, Mescal recalled, “I remember watching it with my dad and being absolutely blown away by it.”

“It’s been in the cultural zeitgeist for 20 years, and there’s not a lot of films that have done that especially in this genre,” he added. “So there’s a healthy amount of pressure but also a healthy amount of confidence from the people that made the film. We are excited to kind of add the next installment to a film that has been and will continue to be incredibly popular.”

Gladiator II storms into theaters on Nov. 22.


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