First in-movie photos from Gladiator II revealed ─ Paul Mescal's well-trained body, Pedro Pascal, Denzel Washington, and others

The long-awaited first look has arrived from Gladiator II, the sequel to Ridley Scott's spectacular epic Gladiator (2000). The visuals show the earnestness of the cast, including Paul Mescal as the main character Lucius, Pedro Pascal, Denzel Washington, and Joseph Quinn.

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Gladiator II is set 25 to 30 years after the previous film and tells the story of Lucius, the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and nephew of Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Mescal, who plays Lucius, is an actor who has gained a reputation for introspective roles in films such as Aftersun (2022) and The Strangers (2023), but his appearance is magnificent, as Scott chose him for the role because he expected his physique to be suitable for the role of Lucius. The duel scene with Roman general Marcus Acacius, played by Pedro Pascal, is also powerful and full of dynamism. 

By the way, Acacius is a character who has a history of being trained by Maximus (Russell Crowe) in the previous film. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Mescal, who has bulked up, revealed, "I just wanted to look big, strong, and like someone who can do damage when a serious situation occurs." "I think that if you aim for a perfect appearance, you end up looking more like an underwear model than a warrior," he said, mentioning that he placed emphasis on the realism of the role rather than pursuing physical beauty.

"When you develop muscles, it can be seen as aesthetic in some ways, but there's something about feeling physically strong that brings about a different feeling. It changes the way you behave. It affected me psychologically in a way that was useful for the film."

Pascal said that the fight scene between Lucius and Acacius was "brutal." Apparently, on set, they called Mescal "Paul the Brick Wall." "He's gotten so strong. I'd rather be thrown off a building than fight him again. Facing someone so toned, so talented, so much younger..." he said, humorously referring to Mescal's strength. Scott and distribution officials recently boasted that the action scenes in "Gladiator II" are among the biggest in the history of film, and this first look shows that they are quite confident about this film. As with the previous film, it will captivate the world with its overwhelming scale.

Connie Nielsen will reprise her role as Lucilla in the sequel, and new cast members include Joseph Quinn from Stranger Things, Pedro Pascal from The Mandalorian (2019-), Denzel Washington from the Equalizer series, Fred Heckinger from Kraven the Hunter (2024), May Calamawi from Moon Knight (2022), and Peter Mensah from G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes the Raven (2021). Gladiator II is scheduled to be released in the US on November 22, 2024.