Russell Crowe Said He Almost Quit ‘Gladiator’ Due To ‘Absolute Rubbish’ Script

Russell Crowe
Universal/Getty Images

Actor Russell Crowe said he considered walking off the set of his hit 2000 historical action-adventure film, “Gladiator,” due to what he considered flaws in the script.

The 59-year-old star discussed what happened during a recent video interview with Vanity Fair

“‘Gladiator’s my 20-something movie. I was confident about my abilities as a leading man. What I wasn’t confident about with ‘Gladiator’ was the world that was surrounding me,” Crowe told the publication. 

“At the core of what we were doing was a great concept, but the script, it was rubbish. Absolute rubbish. And it had all these sorts of strange sequences, you know. One of them, was about chariots,” he said. Crowe worried that moviegoers wouldn’t understand their inclusion. “It’s just not gonna ring right to a modern audience. They’re gonna go, ‘What the f*** is all this?’” he said.

Crowe starred in the Oscar-winning drama as Maximus Decimus Meridius, a role that earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. “Gladiator” dominated the 2001 awards season and was popular with critics and audiences. The Ridley Scott film brought in more than $500 million at the global box office.

“The energy around what we were doing was very fractured,” Crowe said of being on set. “I did think a couple of times, ‘Maybe my best option is just to get on a plane and get out of here.'” 

The New Zealand-born actor said it was Scott who convinced him to stay. The filmmaker reportedly told Crowe, “Mate, we’re not committing anything to camera that you don’t believe in 100%.”

“When we actually started that film, we had 21 pages of script that we agreed on,” the actor said. “So we had a long way to go, and you know we basically used up those pages in the first section of the movie, so by the time we got to our second location, which was Morocco, we were sort of catching up.”

Now, the Academy Award winner is happy he didn’t quit the project.

“I wish that every young actor could have something like a ‘Gladiator’ in their career,” Crowe said. “We made that film in 1999, and I’ll bet you money somewhere in the world tonight, that film is playing on primetime television. It has the longest legs and people, you know they’re not just connected to it, but they love it with a passion.”


Crowe’s character died at the end of the movie, and he wasn’t asked to join the highly anticipated “Gladiator” sequel. The actor discussed his feelings about it with Collider earlier this month.

“I mean, look, the only thing that I really feel about it is slightly jealous, you know?” Crowe said of the sequel going on without him. “Because I was a much younger man, obviously, and it was a huge experience in my life. It’s something that changed my life, really. It changed the way people regarded me and what I do for a living, and, you know, I’ve been very lucky to be involved in lots of big movies, but the legs on that film are incredible.”

“Gladiator 2” is scheduled for a November 22, 2024 release date.

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