Like most of us, Russell Crowe has had a lot of time on his hands to reminisce and think about simpler times in recent weeks. But going on a trip down memory lane is quite different for A-list actors like Crowe — that street is often paved with memories from behind the scenes of iconic films. As Gladiator, Ridley Scott’s epic drama, is about to celebrate its twentieth anniversary, Empire reached out to its leading man. To everyone’s surprise, Russell Crowe revealed that his character wasn’t supposed to — spoiler alert! — get stabbed in the throat. In Scott’s original vision, Maximus was fated to live after he’s avenged his family. But in the interview, Crowe recalls having a conversation with the director mid-shoot, who told him that the protagonist’s destiny has changed. What resulted was an epic duel and an unforgettable speech delivered through Maximus’ dying breaths. It was a twist ending that the audience didn’t see coming and, as it turns out, neither did the actor who played it.
While Gladiator’s hero was ill-fated before the producer and the actor even knew it themselves, the same cannot be said of the film and Russell Crowe’s part in it. It’s arguably his most iconic role to date, even with several other blockbusters and Academy Award nominations under his belt. In fact, the film had enjoyed such mainstream success that it sparked a renewed interest in Roman and classical history, which experts have since dubbed the ‘Gladiator effect'. It launched a whole new genre of epic historical dramas with films such as Troy, King Arthur, and Centurion following the 2000 epic. (It also gave us a certain Pepsi commercial that is an icon of its own.) Though the history of the Roman Republic has been fleshed out in film, at least in terms of wild arena combat, the Gladiator effect lives on, although more subtly, in newer media platforms today. Indeed, the games listed on Foxy Bingo include titles like Arena of Gold, Wild Gladiators, and even Gladiator, Road to Rome, all paying homage to the iconic film through their setting and imagery. All this is owed to Scott’s contribution to the history of contemporary cinema, as well as Crowe’s unforgettable performance as a valiant fighter. More recently on his Instagram, the A Beautiful Mind actor shared a snapshot of him and co-star Jennifer Connelly on set. In the caption, he sang praises of Connelly’s acting, and even says, “I think we bring out the best in each other.” And he's got a point. The duo have played husband-and-wife twice — the first time in the aforementioned 2001 biopic, and then again in the 2014 biblical drama, Noah, where Crowe played the titular character and Connelly, his beloved. Russell Crowe’s trip down memory lane definitely has many of us nostalgic for simpler times, but we’re looking forward to more of his movies in the future. A Marco Pierre White biopic is already in the works, and Crowe is set to direct and star as the renowned British chef. Let’s just hope that there are no hidden knives this time around.
For more news in the world of film, always keep posted on Frontline Views.