Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal, and the Roman Empire: Everything you need to know about Gladiator II.

Gladiator II is the movie everyone is talking about. It hasn't actually been released yet, but you drop a few photos of Paul Mescal and Pedro Pascal wearing historically accurate mini-skirts and you're going to get the internet riled up.

To say the sequel to Sir Ridley Scott's cinematic masterpiece Gladiator is highly anticipated would be an understatement. Part two has been 24 years in the making, picking up the story of Lucius Verus II and the one thing we know men think about all of the time: The Roman Empire.

As we patiently wait for the film's release, we're taking a look at everything you need to know about Gladiator II — including cast, plot, release date and a quick summary of the original film, just in case you've never seen it. Because, until very recently, same.

When is the Gladiator II Australian release date? 

Gladiator II premieres in Australia on November 22, 2024.

Paul Mescal in Gladiator IIPaul Mescal in Gladiator II is about to change lives. Image: Paramount Pictures.


What is Gladiator II about? 

Gladiator II is set several decades after the events of Gladiator — which is perfect, considering 24 years have passed, allowing for some original actors to reprise their roles in the sequel.

The film follows Lucius Versus II (Paul Mescal), former heir to the Roman Empire and son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen). He becomes a gladiator after his home is invaded by the Roman army, led by general Marcus Acacius (Pedro Pascal). 

Lucius resolves to fight as a gladiator while opposing the reign of new co-emperors Caracalla and Geta (portrayed by Fred Hechinger and Joseph Quinn, respectively).

Is there a trailer for Gladiator II?

There is a trailer now available for the second Gladiator film. Watch it below. 

Video via Paramount Pictures.

Who is in the cast of Gladiator II?

Who will be donning the classic leather mini skirt in the Colosseum? Well, plenty of people. The cast is stacked: a real who's who of 'internet boyfriends', returning icons and acclaimed actors. Let’s dive in. 

Paul Mescal as Lucius Versus II

On second thought, I don't know if we're quite ready for Paul. Image: Paramount Pictures. 

Leading the charge is Irish actor Paul Mescal, known for his love of short shorts and his roles in Normal People, Aftersun, All Of Us Strangers and more.


Paul stars as Lucius Versus II, the son of Lucilla and Lucius Versus and the former heir to the Roman Empire. Lucius appeared in the original Gladiator, previously portrayed by Spencer Treat Clark.

As a young boy — and following the events of the first film — Lucius was sent to live on the northern coast of Africa, though he never fully understood why. As an adult he lives in Numidia with his new family, until his home is invaded by the Roman army led by Marcus Acacius, and he is forced into slavery. 

It's then he follows in the footsteps of his idol, Maximus Decimus Meridius, and becomes a gladiator.

"It's very 'angry young man' drama in that sense. He can see the way Rome has kind of fallen in on itself," Mescal told Vanity Fair when the first-look images were released. "Rome represents all the personal neglect that he felt as a child. Suddenly he's thrust back into that world and has direct proximity to all of the things that he thinks he hates and doesn't feel attached to anymore."

When asked about his decision to cast Mescal, the director revealed he became a fan after watching Normal People. Which we relate to, very much.

"Can I see Paul Mescal being as big as Russell Crowe? For sure," he revealed of his decision.

Pedro Pascal as Marcus Acacius

Pedro Pascal takes on the Roman Empire as Marcus AcaciusPedro Pascal as Marcus Acacius. Image: Paramount Pictures.


When Pedro Pascal isn't busy playing the 'father figure on a journey' types in The Last Of Us or The Mandalorian, he's usually got his hands full as the villain in projects like Kingsman and Wonder Woman. There's a long-standing joke that Pedro's two cinematic roles are 'dad' or 'dead'.

In Gladiator II, it seems Pedro will have his work cut out for him as Marcus Acacius.

Marcus is a Roman general who trained under Maximus and was shaped in his image. But he doesn't quite live up to the Maximus we remember.


"He learned from the best, so of course this code of honour is ingrained into his training and into his existence. But at the end of the day, he's a different person. And that can't change who he is. Maximus is Maximus, and that can't be replicated. That just makes Acacius capable of different things," Pedro tells Vanity Fair of the character.

Connie Nielsen as Lucilla

Connie Nielsen returns as Lucilla in Gladiator IIShe's back! Connie Nielsen returns as Lucilla. Image: Paramount Pictures.


Returning in her role as Lucilla is Connie Nielsen, who OG Gladiator fans will remember. If you're not aware, Lucilla is the daughter of the former Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

In the second film, we'll pick up years after Lucilla said farewell to her son Lucius and shipped him off. Lucilla struggled with the decision and eventually connected with Marcus Acacius — the man who would later enslave her own child.

"She's a woman who has had a huge loss, and in the middle of that, a gift that is Pedro Pascal," Nielsen told Vanity Fair. "The wrinkle is, when [her son] gets to Rome as a prisoner and has a first round in the arena, he sees his mother— to his shock. He doesn't know whether she's alive or not. How would he know? You don't have telephones. There's no press. And there's his mother in the royal box looking pretty good after 20 years. And she's with the general who he came face-to-face with on the wall in Numidia," the director revealed.

Problem is, she doesn't recognise her son. And we're sure that's going to go down really cool and casual — you know, plot-wise.

Denzel Washington as Macrinus

Denzel Washington in Gladiatior IIDenzel Washington really is "that guy" in his Gladiator glory. Image: Paramount Pictures.


When the first-look photos dropped, fans couldn't help but marvel at Denzel Washington wearing his Macrinus 'fit. Dripping in standard-issue Roman Empire garb, the man looked good. 

Stylish ensembles aside, his character is not necessarily one to adore. Macrinus is described as a dashing powerbroker... who keeps a stable of gladiators to roll out at the whim of the emperors. He works as an arms dealer, providing food and oil to armies in Europe.

Joseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger as Emperors Geta and Caracalla

Joseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger star as brother emperors in Gladiator IIJoseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger in Gladiator II have a certain... evil energy. Image: Paramount Pictures.


From Stranger Things to A Quiet Place: Day One, Joseph Quinn is having a phenomenal year. 

The British actor has scored another leading role in a surefire smash-hit, starring as one of two young brothers who rule the vast empire: Emperor Geta. He's joined by Fred Hechinger (Thelma), who plays Emperor Caracalla.

The brothers are described as sadistic, and they threaten Lucilla's wellbeing as a means of controlling their general, Acacius. Can't our girl Lucilla ever just have a chill and normal time? Probably not, this is historically... not the time for that.

"They're using her as a little bit of leverage if they have to," the director said of their roles. "Caracalla and Geta are twins and are definitely damaged goods from birth."


Paul Mescal films a battle scene for Gladiator IIPaul Mescal, how the crowds of the Colosseum will love you. Image: Paramount Pictures.

What happened in the original Gladiator movie? 

Quick synopsis for Gladiator from a girl who just watched it for the first time ever, in preparation of what is sure to be one of the biggest movies in 2024:

Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) is ready to return home to his wife and son, after spending years on the battlefield at the behest of his beloved Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris).


The Emperor's son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), is just a little creep and also quite honestly, the worst. He murders his father in order to seize the throne, and sends his men to kill Maximus. He also sends his men to find Maximus' son and wife and brutally murders them. There's also some weird tension with his sister, Lucilla (Nielsen), towards whom he constantly makes unhinged and unwelcome advances.

Reduced to slavery after escaping his foiled murder attempt, Maximus becomes a gladiator. He rises through the ranks, because he's an epic general, and is determined to avenge his family by killing the now-Emperor Commodus.

It takes a hot minute, but he does eventually get Commodus in a one-on-one battle in the Colosseum, and achieves his goal of freeing Rome from a tyrannical ruler.

Unfortunately… Commodus stabs him before their final showdown, unbeknownst to the crowds, and Maximus succumbs to his injuries after killing the Emperor. But he's at peace, dying for a cause he believes in. 

Will Russell Crowe be in Gladiator II?

Unfortunately, no, Russell Crowe won't be making an appearance in Gladiator II on account of his character Maximus Decimus Meridius being... dead. You know.

We can't wait to watch Gladiator II unfold! In the meantime, here's what the Mamamia team are watching this month

Feature Image: Paramount Pictures.