Almost 16 years ago Denzel Washington and Ridley Scott wowed audiences with their hit crime drama American Gangster, and now it looks like the the two A-listers are ready to get back together in a big way. Sources tell Deadline that Washington is in final negotiations to co-star in Scott’s sequel to his Oscar Best Picture winner Gladiator for Paramount.
Paul Mescal is on board to star opposite Washington, with Scott returning to the director’s chair.
Scott also will produce with Scott Free president Michael Pruss as well as Doug Wick & Lucy Fisher via Red Wagon Entertainment. David Scarpa penned the script. Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are executive producing.
Also returning from the original film are costume designer Janty Yates and production designer Arthur Max.
The first film was co-production between Universal and DreamWorks, and while DreamWorks will not be involved in the sequel, Universal has the right to partner again when the project is packaged.
Once Mescal was locked for the project, Scott and Paramount Pictures President & CEO Brian Robbins and Co-Presidents Daria Cercek and Michael Ireland pushed hard for a star for the other major role in the film and took a shot with Washington, the two-time Oscar winner. When the offer was first presented there it was unknown whether he would actually do it; Washington is known for his great taste in projects and doesn’t sign up for anything. But after reading the script, sources close to the project said he was excited about the bad-ass role Scott had written with him in mind.
A meeting with Scott soon followed, and after the director gave his pitch, Washington was all but on board.
The new film follows the 2000 blockbuster Gladiator, which earned more than $460 million in worldwide box office and was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, winning five including Best Picture.
The role of Maximus, the Roman general-turned-gladiator, was a career-changer for Russell Crowe, not only delivering him the Best Actor Oscar but also launching him to the top of every leading-man list. Once it was made clear last year that the sequel would be Scott’s next movie, every male actor in town that fit the profile began chasing the part.
(Excerpt) Read more in: Deadline