Did you know that Maximus was partly inspired by real
historical figures? If this has peaked your interest then keep
on reading Gladiator
by: Ridley Scott
Written by: David Franzoni (Story)
David Franzoni (screenplay)
John Logan (screenplay)
William Nicholson (screenplay) Starring: Russell Crowe - Maximus
Joaquin Phoenix - Commodus
Connie Nielsen - Lucilla
Oliver Reed - Proximo
Richard Harris - Marcus Aurelius
Derek Jacobi - Gracchus
Djimon Hounsou - Juba
David Schofield - Falco
John Shrapnel - Gaius
Tomas Arana - Quintus
Ralf Moeller - Hagen
Spencer Treat Clark - Lucius David Hemmings -
Maximus is a fictional character partly inspired
historical figures, Marcus Nonius
Macrinus, Narcissus, Spartacus, Cincinnatus, and Maximus of Hispania.
Mel Gibson was apparently offered the role of Maximus, but
turned down the part.
Antonio Banderas was also considered for the role of
Apparently Jennifer Lopez auditioned for the role of
Oliver Reed's main motivation for taking the part of
because he fancied a "free trip to London to see a couple of shows". He
also insisted to Director Ridley Scott, that his life was his
own after 5 o'clock and Scott readily agreed to that.
Writer David Franzoni modeled Proximo very consciously on a
Oliver Reed suffered a fatal heart attack during principal
photography. Some of his sequences had to be re-edited and a double,
photographed in the shadows and with a 3D CGI mask of Reed's face, was
used as a stand-in. The film is dedicated to his memory.
Apparently Richard Harris would frequently ignore any newly
rewritten scenes as
he couldn't be bothered to relearn his lines.
Lou Ferrigno was originally cast as Tigris of Gaul, but was
during production by Sven-Ole Thorsen who had been lobbying hard for
the part. Sven-Ole Thorsen also doubled as one of the spectators during
the Gladiators battle scene with Tigris and Maximus.
David Hemmings (Cassius) pointed eyebrows shown in the
in fact his own.
In the opening scene that's not Russell Crowe's hand you
the iconic shot of
Maximus' hand brushing the stalks of wheat, but that of Crowe's
double, Stuart Clark (credited as Stuart Clarke).
During filming Russell Crowe became friends with Richard
However, it was the opposite with Oliver Reed who took an instant
dislike to Crowe and at one point challenged him to a fight.
Apparently Joaquin Phoenix got so involved in the scene
Commodus murders his father, Marcus Aurelius, that he actually fainted
was based on
an original pitch by David Franzoni,
went on to write all of the early drafts.
Writer David Franzoni started developing the
story of Gladiator
when he read "Those Who Are About To Die", a history of the Roman games
by Daniel P. Mannix; Franzoni later discussed the idea with Steven
Spielberg during their work on Amistad
(1997), saying that he
envisioned Commodus as being something like Ted Turner in the way he
combined politics and entertainment to establish a base of influence.
Director, Ridley Scott initially thought that writer David Franzoni's
too "on the nose", so he hired John Logan to rewrite the script. Logan
rewrote much of the first act and made the decision to kill off
Maximus' family as motivation for the lead character.
With two weeks to go before filming, the actors complained
problems with the script. William Nicholson was brought to Shepperton
Studios to make Maximus a more sensitive character, reworking his
friendship with Juba and developed the afterlife thread in the film,
saying "he did not want to see a film about a man who wanted to kill
went back to David Franzoni's original script and reinstated a lot of
the scenes that John Logan had taken out. David Franzoni was later
brought back to revise the rewrites of Logan and Nicholson, and in the
process gained a producer's credit.
Writer William Nicholson added the aspects of the film in
Maximus discusses the afterlife, seeking to make the character more
accessible to audiences.
Writer David Franzoni chose not to use the end of the film
note that Rome did not, in fact, become a republic again, because he
thought most audiences would already know that.
It's been said that Russell Crowe was continually unhappy
the Gladiator screenplay.
He questioned every aspect of the evolving script and
strode off the set when he did not get answers. According to
Dreamsworks he tried to rewrite the entire script to suit his own ends.
The famous line "In this life or the next, I
will have my vengeance" he initially refused to say, telling writer
William Nicholson "Your lines are garbage but I'm the greatest actor in
the world and I can make even garbage sound good". Nicholson has said
that "Probably my lines were garbage, so he was just talking straight."
In the original drafts of the Gladiator
name of the main
was not Maximus, but Narcissus, the name of the man who killed Commodus
in real life.
Though dozens of versions of the script were written, the
page draft, dated October 1997 by David Franzoni, is "... different in
almost every detail from the finished movie." (As quoted by 'David S.
Cohen' in his book Screen Plays.)
The real-life Commodus was in fact the only Roman Emperor
to fight as a gladiator in the arena. However, he did it several times,
not just once. Also, he was not killed in the arena but was strangled
in his dressing room by an athlete named Narcissus.
Although much of the movie is fictitious, it's interesting
that emperor Commodus' historically accurate killer, Narcissus, was
born in the same Roman African province as the one in the movie where
Maximus becomes a gladiator.
In reality, Aurelius died of the plague and Commodus
throne. He was a much loved emperor by the army and the lower classes.
The film's plot was influenced by two 1960s Hollywood films
the 'sword and sandal' genre, The
Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) and Spartacus (1960).
Director, Ridley Scott attributed Spartacus
and Ben-Hur (1959)as
influences on the
film. He's quoted as saying "These movies were part of my cinema-going
youth. But at the dawn of the new millennium, I though this might be
the ideal time to revisit what may have been the most important period
of the last two thousand years—if not all recorded history—the apex and
beginning of the decline of the greatest military and political power
the world has ever known."
All of the senators have names from other Hollywood epics,
actual historical figures.
provides the film's gladiatorial motif, as well as the character of
Senator Gracchus, a fictitious senator (bearing the name of a pair of
revolutionary Tribunes from the 2nd century BC) who in both films is an
elder statesman of ancient Rome attempting to preserve the ancient
rights of the Roman senate in the face of an ambitious autocrat —
Marcus Licinius Crassus in Spartacus
and Commodus in Gladiator.
Ridley Scott was persuaded to do the film when DreamWorks
F. Parkes and producer Douglas Wick presented him with a reproduction
of the 1872 painting "Pollice Verso" ("Thumbs Down") by Jean-Léon
Gérôme, in which a gladiator stands over the opponent he has beaten.
Editor Pietro Scalia added the shot of Maximus' hand moving
through a wheat
field to the beginning of the film; it was originally intended to be
added for the ending.
When the first battle in Germania is about to take place
war cry are samples of the Zulu war chant from the film Zulu (1964) where
the Zulus are
advancing in their first attack against the British outpost.
Maximus's companion is his pet wolf, but in the film a
Shepherd was used instead. The production was unable to use real wolves
England's strict anti-rabies laws prevented them from importing any of
The blur effect that appears halfway through the war scene
Maximus' army and the Germanic tribes was not originally intended. The
scene was shot in the early evening, but continued too long and the
light was drastically diminished. In order to keep the continuity of
the scene's lighting and avoid shooting another day on the location,
the DP chose instead to shoot the scenes with a very low frame rate. To
compensate for the loss of frames, the frames that were shot were
duplicated several times in post, and edited into the film in a way
that made the switch look natural.
The opening battle scene was filmed in Bourne Woods, in the
county of Surrey. The Royal Forestry Commission had originally slated
the area for deforestation so Ridley Scott eagerly offered them his
facilities to burn the woods to the ground. The Commission happily
The Germania battle sequence took 20 days to complete.
The wounds on Russell Crowe's face after the opening battle
real, caused when his horse startled and backed him into tree branches.
The stitches in his cheek are clearly visible when he is telling
Commodus he intends to return home.
Over the course of the gladiatorial scenes, Russell Crowe
in his foot and his hip, and injured both bicep tendons.
When Maximus describes his home to Marcus Aurelius, the
description (specifically how
the kitchen is arranged and smells in the morning and at night) is
actually that of Russell Crow's own home in Australia and was
The yak helmet worn by the gladiator who was slain by
same one worn by the warrior slain by Sean Connery, in Time Bandits
On visiting the real Colosseum, Ridley Scott remarked to
designer 'Arthur Max' that it was "too small," so they designed an
out sized "Rome of the imagination" which was inspired by English and
French romantic painters, as well as Nazi architect Albert Speer.
A replica of about one third of Rome's Colosseum was built
a height of 52 feet, mostly from plaster and plywood. The remainder of
the building was added in digitally. It took several months to build at
a reputed cost of $1 million.
In the Colosseum scenes, only the bottom two decks are
filled with people. The other thousands of people are computer-animated.
The script had called for a battle scene between Maximus
rhinoceros. Since it was too difficult to train and CGI could not make
it realistic enough, the rhinoceros was omitted.
When Commodus goes with Lucius to meet Maximus at the
tells Maximus that Lucius insists Maximus is Hector reborn. Then
Commodus asks Lucius, "Or was it Hercules?" The real emperor Commodus
believed he was Hercules reborn.
Maximus refers to the two horses on his breastplate when
Lucius as being called "Scarto" and "Argento" - translated from the
Latin they are "Trigger" and "Silver" (Scarto directly translates as
"lever" - but we get the idea!).
5 tigers were brought in for the sequence in the arena
fights Tigris the Gaul. A veterinarian armed with tranquilizer darts
was in attendance for the entire length of shooting. For safety's sake,
Russell Crowe was never allowed to be any less than 15 feet away from
Temperatures in the gladiator arena would frequently top
As Oliver Reed died with three weeks of principal
remaining and as he was considered a key character, a clause in the
insurance coverage on the movie would have allowed the film-makers to
shoot all of Reed's scenes with another actor, with the insurers
footing the cost (estimated at $25million). However, most of the actors
and crew were exhausted from the punishing schedule and Ridley Scott
did not want to lose Reed from the movie, so the script was rewritten
and CGI used to give Reed's character a plausible resolution at an
estimated cost of $3 million.
Among the changes necessitated by the death of Oliver Reed
final scene, as it was supposed to have been Proximo who buried the
figures in the sand of the Coliseum.
British post-production house "The Mill" was responsible
the CGI effects in the film. Among their responsibilities were to
composite real tigers filmed on blue screen into the fight sequences,
and adding smoke trails and extending the flight paths of the opening
battle's flaming arrows. They also used 2000 live actors to create a
CGI crowd of about 35,000 people. One of their major hurdles was to
create a digital body double for the deceased Oliver Reed.
Connie Nielsen found the 2000-year-old signet ring which
the movie, in an antique store.
During filming, director Ridley Scott wore the red cap worn
Hackman in the movie Crimson
(1995), which was directed by
Ridley's brother, Tony Scott.
Contrary to rumor, Enya didn't record any music for the
this film. The song simply sounds like something she would have
recorded. The song, and in fact much of the soundtrack, was composed
and sung by Lisa Gerrard.
Due to Academy regulations, co-composer Lisa Gerrard was
Oscar nomination while Hans Zimmer received one.
Apparently this is Russell Crowe's favorite films that he
done. He also cites Maximus as his favorite character that he's played
On the Special
Edition DVD, the
Honor: Creating the World of 'Gladiator' (2005), at nearly 3 and a
half hours, is an hour longer than the film itself.
The film had surpassed its $103,000,000 budget within 2
In June 2001, Douglas Wick said a Gladiator
prequel was in
development. The following year, Wick, Walter Parkes, David Franzoni,
and John Logan switched direction to a sequel set fifteen years later;
the Praetorian Guards rule Rome and an older Lucius is trying to learn
who his real father was.
An easter egg contained on disc 2 of the extended edition /
special edition DVD releases includes a discussion of possible
scenarios for a follow-up. This includes a suggestion by Walter F.
Parkes that, in order to enable Russell Crowe to return to play
Maximus, who dies at the end of the original movie, a sequel could
involve a "multi-generational drama about Maximus and the Aureleans and
this chapter of Rome", similar in concept to The
Godfather Part II(1974).
In 2006, Scott stated he and Crowe approached Nick Cave to
rewrite the film, but they had conflicted with DreamWorks's idea of a
Lucius spin-off, who Scott revealed would turn out to be Maximus' son
with Lucilla. He noted this tale of corruption in Rome was too complex,
worked due to its simple drive.