Paul Mescal is opening up about being nervous during his first interaction with his Gladiator sequel co-star Pedro Pascal before filming began, and why the highly-anticipated film has him “stressed.”
In a recent interview with Esquire, conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike, the actor said he actually saw The Last of Us star at LAX airport just before his involvement in the movie was announced, but “was too afraid to go up to him.”
He said Pascal ended up coming over to him and “just seemed so genuine; I’m really looking forward to hanging out with him.”
In the movie, Mescal takes on the lead role of adult Lucius, depicted in the original as the young nephew of Commodus, the Roman Emperor played by Joaquin Phoenix in the 2000 film. The Normal People star previously told The Hollywood Reporter that he didn’t have to audition for the part, but rather took a meeting with infamous director Ridley Scott, who “discussed the parameters of the story. Then, after the fact, I was given a script.”
However, production is currently at a halt amid the ongoing dual strikes. But Scott did get about halfway through filming his sequel, which began filming in June, before they had to pause.
Mescal didn’t share too many details about the Gladiator sequel with Esquire because he was nervous he would say something he wasn’t supposed to.
“I can’t get into that!” he told the outlet. “I can’t tell you how stressed I am talking about that film in particular, because it’s definitely the biggest one I’ve done. I feel really excited, but, like, it’s difficult to get away from the legacy of the film a bit. I think it’s really well written and it pays homage to the first one, but it’s very much something that I think I can step into and make comfortably my own.”
The actor also admitted that he hadn’t spoken to the original Gladiator star Russell Crowe. “I don’t know what we would talk about,” he explained. “Like, I’d love to hear his stories from filming, but the character is, like, totally separate.”
During an interview with THR earlier this year for a February cover story, Mescal said he’s “so proud I get to make” the film. He added, “It’s an intimidating feat. It’s something I’m nervous about but something I feel like I can do.”
When asked about what kind of body transformation he may have to undergo to play a gladiator, he said at the time, “With films like this and superhero films, there is sometimes a focus on that, which I don’t find that interesting. Of course there’s a physical robustness required for the character, but past that, I’m not interested. This guy’s got to fight and got to be a beast. And whatever that looks and feels like is right for me, is what it’s going to be. Sometimes I see films and I’m like, ‘That person doesn’t look real.’“
The Gladiator sequel, which also stars Connie Nielsen, Denzel Washington and Joseph Quinn, currently has a release date set for Nov. 24, 2024.