Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning 2000 drama Gladiator ended in heartbreaking fashion, with Russell Crowe’s Maximus dying in the final battle against Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus. Crowe has now spoken about how this wasn’t always the plan.
Speaking to Empire, Crowe said that Scott decided to change Maximum’s fate after filming had begun. Crowe said he agreed with the change, saying it was more fitting to his journey.
“I remember Ridley coming up to me on set saying, ‘Look, the way this is shaping up, I don’t see how you live. This character is about one act of pure vengeance for his wife and child, and, once he’s accomplished that, what does he do?'” Crowe said.
Crowe recalls that he joked with Ridley at the time that he had a good think about what Maximus might do if he were to survive. He would open a pizzeria next to the Colosseum, Crowe joked.
Instead of this more comical ending, Maximus perishes after completing his life’s journey to avenge the death of his wife and family. “He has a singular purpose, which is to meet his wife in the afterlife and apologize for not being there for her. And that’s it,” Crowe said.
Gladiator was nominated for 12 Academy Awards. It took home five, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role for Russell Crowe.
A sequel to Gladiator is in production, but sadly, it’s not based on a script that makes Maximus a time-traveler.
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