20 years of ‘Gladiator’: The secrets of the chaotic shooting of an epic film

On May 5, 2000, one of the films called to make history in the seventh art hit theaters: Gladiator. The British Ridley Scott, author of works such as Alien The Blade Runner He was in charge of directing the film that was going to revitalize the peplum at the beginning of the 21st century. But yours was a most crazy filming, with a 21-page script without an outcome that was built on the fly and had to move forward because they had already closed the entire production schedule.

In spite of everything, the film that elevated Russell Crowe and discovered the talent of Joaquin Phoenix won five Oscars out of the twelve for which it was nominated, including the one for best picture. When it’s twenty years old of his landing in rooms that are empty today, we unravel some of the anecdotes and secrets of an epic film that conquered critics and audiences with action, emotion and a beautiful soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard.

Crowe in a scene from ‘Gladiator’

Mel Gibson turned down the role of Máximo and Russell Crowe was not enthusiastic about the character

Ridley Scott was always the director chosen by Universal Pictures and DreamWorks to carry out the project. As for the protagonist, the first option to play Máximo was Mel Gibson, who rejected the role for that of The patriot (Roland Emmerich, 2000). When the role was proposed to Crowe, it was not clear to him at first. “I had read the script and I thought it was not a movie, but then Parkes said, ‘This is the year 184 and you are a Roman general who is going to be directed by Ridley Scott.’ That was enough to make me want to talk to Ridley. But I had just starred The dilemma (1999), I was fat and had no hair because I had shaved it to wear a wig. He did not look like a Roman general ”.

The reasons why Crowe accepted

Luckily, Crowe accepted and built one of his most famous characters, that of a man who decides to avenge his family after Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix, kills his wife and son. The New Zealander accepted the offer, in addition to having veteran Scott at the helm, because it was his first role as a true leading man in Hollywood and it was a blockbuster with a budget of 100 million dollars. The effort paid off, and his performance earned him his only Oscar to date as a lead actor.

A memorable monologue

Gladiator It contains very emotional phrases, but above all the famous monologue of Máximo stands out when he discovers his face in front of Comfortable:

“My name is Máximo Décimo Meridio, commander of the armies of the North, general of the middle legions, faithful servant of the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius, father of a murdered son, husband of a murdered woman and I will achieve my revenge, in this life or in the next”.

An unfinished script

David Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson were in charge of developing the film’s script from different places, which started with only 21 pages, when it is normal for it to be at least 100. In a first draft, before Logan did it. rewrite, Comfortable did not murder Máximo’s family. The plot was included so that Crowe’s character had enough motive to go against the emperor. In subsequent rewrites, both the actor and Scott helped put together the final script, which had to be built against the clock. In fact, the interpreter revealed that Gladiator it was the stupidest possible way to shoot a film. “Sometimes we’d get together for a drink and laugh about how we dodged that bullet,” he said in an interview to promote. Two good guys (2016). The surprising thing is that the film was nominated for best original screenplay.


Spencer junto a Joaquin Phoenix en ‘Gladiator’

Universal pictures

The unexpected death of Oliver Reed

The actor who played Próximo passed away at the age of 61, before finishing his lines. A drinking fan, Reed was struck down in a bar by a heart attack after challenging some British Navy sailors to drink more than he did during his stay in Malta. The actor won the game, but paid a high price in return. His death forced to make new changes in the libretto and add his figure with digital effects.

Scenes with real tigers

The script contained a scene in which Máximo confronted a rhinoceros. But due to the difficulty of training one or recreating one using CGI in a realistic way, this battle was eliminated on tape. Instead, the five tigers that appear on the set are real. To avoid any mishap, there was a tamer just behind the cameras with tranquilizer darts.

Crowe’s wounds

The injuries to Russell Crowe’s face after the initial battle scene are not the result of makeup. It caused them when his horse got scared and rammed him against the branches of a tree. The stitches on the cheek are clearly visible.

A complicated props in record time

The assembly of sets, costumes and armor was done by the team members due to high costs or the unavailability of the items they needed. 100 steel, 550 polyurethane and 27,500 armor pieces were made in a period of three months.


Gladiator / filme

Gladiator / filme

A cinematic forest

The shooting of the Battle of Germania was done in Bourne Wood, a forest in the United Kingdom that has been the scene of other wars and movie scenes such as: Warhorse, the Robin Hood de Ridley Scott, Captain America The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

A Colosseum in Malta

The film was shot in different settings in England, Italy, Morocco and Malta. The Roman Colosseum that appears in the film, a replica of the original, was filmed precisely on this island. Only a third of the 15-meter-high amphitheater was built. The remaining parts were included digitally. Upon arrival in Morocco, Scott ran out of material to shoot at first and set about choosing a few locations because they had no more pages in the script. “When we arrived in Morocco we had already finished the 21 pages we had,” said Crowe. In Ouarzazate, known as the Desert hollywood, the scenes of the slaves, the journey through the desert and the gladiator school of Proximo were filmed at the foot of the Atlas Mountains.

The hand that brushes the wheat

The scene in which Máximo walks through a wheat field and a close-up of a hand is seen is one of the most suggestive in the film, but the hand does not belong to Crowe but to his body double Stuart Clark.


The movie includes some noisy gags like the brief appearance of a team member in blue jeans in the opening scene. At another moment Russell Crowe lies in the sand on what looks like a float and another unlikely scene is when a chariot falls to the ground during a confrontation, exposing a cylinder – perhaps gas – inside.


Quadriga of ‘Gladiator’ with a cylinder inside

Universal Pictures

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20 years of ‘Gladiator’: The secrets of the chaotic shooting of an epic film

The Inside News Hyderabad