Russell Crowe (Maximus Decimus Meridius)
Russell Crowe is much more than your average Hollywood actor. He’s also a film producer, director, and musician. He caught everyone’s attention after the release of the historical fiction film Gladiator. Throughout his career, he has earned several accolades and has participated in films like The Nice Guys, The Mummy and Boy Erased. His most recent appearance was in Showtime’s drama miniseries The Loudest Voice, based on Gabriel Sherman’s book, The Loudest Voice in the Room.
Joaquin Phoenix (Commodus)
Joaquin Rafael Phoenix is an American actor, environmentalist, animal rights activist, and producer. He has received a number of awards for his acting career. He also directs music videos as well as produces films and television shows. He has appeared in extremely popular movies after Gladiator including Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Mary Magdalene and Batman’s spin-off telling the story of the super-popular villain, Joker. His last performance was in the Mike Mills drama C’mon C’mon.
Connie Nielsen (Lucilla)
After her amazing performance as Lucilla in Gladiator, Danish actress Connie Nielsen starred in other popular movies, including Mission to Mars, One Hour Photo, and The Hunted. However, it was with Danish production Brødre, also known as Brothers in English, that Nielsen won the Bodil, basically the Danish Best Actress Award. She also received the Best Actress Award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. Her most recent appearance was in a film yet to be released in 2021 called Nobody.
Derek Jacobi (Senator Gracchus)
Derek Jacobi is an English actor and director. He has appeared in films like Grace of Monaco, My Week with Marilyn, and Cinderella. A curious fact about Jacobi is that he was knighted in 1994 as a reward for his contributions to the arts. He became a member of the Danish Order of Dannebrog in 1989 in Denmark and a Knight Bachelor for his services to Drama in 1994 in the United Kingdom. His last appearance was in the television series, The Crown, where he played Edward VIII, also known as the Duke of Windsor.
Djimon Hounsou (Juba)
Djimon Gaston Hounsou is a Beninese and American actor and model. Hounsou gained recognition for his roles in Gladiator and In America. In addition to his defining role in Gladiator, he’s also known for his character in Blood Diamond, where he played the father of a child soldier. That was before he appeared in Marvel films, where he played the role of Korath the Pursuer. In addition, he appeared in DC Comics films. He played the role of the Fisherman King in Aquaman and the wizard Shazam in Shazam! His next appearance will be as the voice of Sumo in the film, Blazing Samurai, set to be released in 2021.
Ralf Möller (Hagen)
Ralf Rudolf Möller is a German actor and bodybuilder. In addition to his role as Hagen in Gladiator, he has also appeared in movies like The Scorpion King. His last appearance as an actor was in the action thriller, Sabotage, in 2014, but he’s due to come back to the big screen in 2020 with the movie, Breach.
Tommy Flanagan (Cicero)
Tommy Flanagan is a Scottish actor known for his performance in the series Sons of Anarchy. He was launched to fame after playing Maximus’ faithful friend Cicero in Gladiator. He also plays Tullk in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. You might also know him from his 2016 appearance in the music video for Korn’s song “Rotting in Vain.” His most recent appearance was in the television series Westworld.
Spencer Treat Clark (Lucius Verus)
Spencer Treat Clark is an American actor. He rose to fame after his appearance in the films Gladiator and Unbreakable. Since then, he has appeared in films like Mystic River, The Last House on the Left, Much Ado About Nothing, and most recently, Glass, a psychological superhero thriller film that was released in 2019. He has also appeared in some episodes of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
David Schofield (Senator Falco)
David Schofield is an English actor. He has been credited with roles in television series like Band of Gold, Footballers’ Wives, and Holby City. On the big screen, he is known for his role as Ian Mercer in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, where he does most of the dirty work for the nobility. His last appearance as an actor was in the series, The Adventures of Paddington and Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators.
Giorgio Cantarini (son of Maximus)
Giorgio Cantarini is an Italian actor. He appeared in Gladiator as a child actor where he played Maximus’ son. In 2001, he appeared in the film, In Love and War. In 2005 he also competed in the second season of Ballando con le Stelle, the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars.
Bonus: Fun facts about the movie and the actors
1. Cameraman in the audience
One of the biggest bloopers of the movie can be found in the scene where Maximus fights his first battle in an arena as a slave. There you can clearly spot, among the spectators, a man dressed in modern clothes and with a camera.
Shoes that come from the future
Something similar happens in the scene where Maximus is fighting in the Colosseum in Rome. There you can spot one of the actors wearing modern boots.
George the horse
The horse that Russell Crowe rides in Gladiator is the same as the one from the film, Robin Hood, and his name is George. Russell claims that they had a special connection since the beginning and that when they met again 10 years later for the filming of Robin Hood, when Russell went to greet George, he said, “Do you realize we won an Academy Award?” Crowe said jokingly —or not— that the horse did know.
“Oops, I forgot to write a script.”
During an interview with BBC, Gladiator’s lead actor, Russell Crowe, confessed that the original script of the movie barely had 21 pages when they started shooting. Normally, any given movie should have about 110 pages written before the filming process starts. Director Ridley Scott still had no idea how the movie would end, so the writers, the producer, and Crowe worked on the script together while shooting at the same time.
Russell Crowe was shocked when he won the Oscar.
At the Academy Awards ceremony, when the actor’s name was called to receive the statuette for Best Actor, it took everyone by surprise, especially Russell Crowe. Due to the conditions in which the film was shot (the fact that they had practically no script and some setbacks), the actor was astonished by the film’s success. Winning such a renowned award made Russell Crowe’s career really take off.
You probably remember that amazing fight scene where Maximus has to defend himself against 5 tigers in the arena. It turns out that, behind the scenes, there was a veterinarian with tranquilizer shots. However, none of them had to be used. Everything went well because the team was particularly careful and Russell Crowe stayed 15 feet away from the tigers throughout the whole scene.
The description of Maximus’ home
Just like mentioned earlier, most of the plot of the movie was pretty much improvised. That includes the memorable opening scene showing Maximus’ home. It turns out that Maximus’ description of his house in the film has the exact same layout as Russell’s house back in his home country of Australia. He also mentioned the smell of the kitchen, to give a moving feeling to the scene, which was actually improvised.
The real meaning of thumbs down
This is one of the strangest fun facts from the movie. If you think of thumbs-down in modern terms, it’s pretty obvious for us that the emperor isn’t voting to save the life of the gladiator. In the same way, when the emperor makes the opposite gesture, today we understand that the gladiator should be forgiven. But actually, back in ancient times, it was exactly the other way around: thumbs up meant sword action, therefore the gladiator’s life would not be spared, and thumbs down, was meant to symbolize a sheathed sword, which would indicate mercy to the gladiator. The production team was fully aware of this, but since today thumbs up is considered to be something positive, they decided to not confuse the audience with historical accuracies.
Janty Yates was the costume designer of the movie and, together with her team, she was given the task of creating more than 10,000 era-appropriate costumes for the entire cast and extras.