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Paul Mescal Seeking Revenge on Pedro Pascal

Paul Mescal is set to take on the grandeur of Ancient Rome in Gladiator II. This highly anticipated sequel to the 2000 blockbuster stars the Aftersun actor as Lucius Verus. Lucius is the nephew of Commodus, the treacherous emperor infamously portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix in the original film.

Having lived years away from the Roman Empire and his mother Lucilla, played by Connie Nielsen, Lucius returns to Rome. His journey leads him to the Colosseum, where he aims to emulate his childhood hero, Maximus—the character that won Russell Crowe the Best Actor Oscar in 2001.

The trailer for the sequel, directed once again by Ridley Scott, features Lucius reminiscing about the pivotal day Maximus exacted revenge against Commodus. “That rage is your gift,” says Macrinus, a wealthy arms dealer played by Denzel Washington, who enlists Lucius into his group of gladiators.

Lucius harbors a deep desire for vengeance against “the entire Roman army.” However, realizing the impracticality of such a quest, he concedes that “the general will do.” This general is Marcus Acacius, played by Pedro Pascal. Despite having trained under Maximus, Marcus embodies everything Lucius despises about the Roman Empire. The two characters first clash when Marcus leads the Roman army to conquer Numidia, the northern African region where Lucilla sent Lucius as a child. They face off once again in the deadly arena of the Colosseum.

Gladiator II also features the twin brother co-emperors Caracalla and Geta, played by Fred Hechinger and Joseph Quinn, respectively. These cruel and power-hungry rulers respond to the plight of their starving people with indifference, declaring, “They can eat war!” Geta even recreates Commodus’ infamous thumbs-down gesture in the trailer.

In an interview, Mescal expressed his excitement about joining a sequel to a film that has been culturally significant for two decades. “There’s not a lot of films that have done that, especially in this genre,” he noted. “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.”

However, not everyone shares the enthusiasm for the sequel. Russell Crowe, whose character Maximus dies at the end of the first film, expressed his discomfort with the new installment. In a recent podcast interview, he admitted, “I’m slightly uncomfortable, the fact that they’re making another one, you know? Because, of course, I’m dead, and I have no say in what gets done.” He added, “But, a couple of things that I’ve heard, I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. That’s not in the moral journey of that particular character.’ But, you know, can’t say anything. It’s not my place. I’m six foot under. So we’ll see what that is like.”

The film’s cast also includes Derek Jacobi as Senator Gracchus, Tim McInnerny as Thraex, and Alexander Karim as Ravi. Additional cast members feature Lior Raz, Peter Mensah, Matt Lucas, May Calamawy, and more.

Gladiator II is scheduled to hit theaters on November 22.

Source: ET Online