Watch Pedro Pascal and Paul Mescal Fight (!) in the ‘Gladiator II’ Trailer

gladiator ii
It's Pascal vs. Mescal in ‘Gladiator II' TrailerParamount

There are few things as shocking as hearing "No Church in the Wild" in a 2024 movie trailer. But when Jay-Z raps, "Tears on the mausoleum doors/Blood on the coliseum floors" as Paul Mescal fights a gladiator on the back of a rhinoceros, it all begins to make sense. You can watch the trailer for yourself below. If that's not enough, the upcoming Gladiator sequel also stars Denzel Washington and Pedro Pascal in full armor. Arrakis, who? It's Rome's time to shine.

Mescal was reportedly one of the first actors to meet with director Ridley Scott about the sequel. He was an easy choice for the lead, Lucius, with the set photos confirming that he certainly looks the part. For those who need a quick refresher: Lucius is Lucilla's (Connie Nielsen) son in the original movie. Back then, the character was a young child whose life was saved by Maximus (Russell Crowe) after the final battle. The sequel takes place years after the first film ended, when Lucius is all grown up and ready to embark on his own journey.

Mescal is also getting absolutely ripped. In fact, the man is suddenly so damn swole that people can't help but comment on his transformation. "With films like this and superhero films, there is sometimes a focus on that," Mescal told The Hollywood Reporter. "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."

Pascal plays Marcus Acacius, a Roman general who trained under Maximus. Meanwhile, Washington plays Macrinus, a "power broker" who keeps a stable of gladiators. A source close to the project revealed that Washington was excited about playing the "badass role" that was crafted with him in mind. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Scott described his character as "fucking cruel."

Gladiator II will debut November 22, 2024—barring any setbacks—so it'll be just a little wait before we can see these leading men duke it out in gladiator armor. For now, Vanity Fair recently released a few first-look images, which you can check out below.

Still, not everyone is so excited about Gladiator returning. Appearing on an episode of the Kyle Meredith With… podcast, Gladiator star Russell Crowe revealed that he's "slightly uncomfortable" with Scott making a sequel. Crowe's character will not return for the next installment since he died in the original film. "I have no say in what gets done," he revealed.

Crowe won the Academy Award for Best Actor following his role in Gladiator, which went on to gross half a billion dollars at the box office. "I reflect back [on] the age I was when I made that film and all the things that came after it and the doors that that particular movie opened for me," he continued. "So there's definitely a tinge—and this is just being purely honest—a tinge of melancholy, tinge of jealousy."

You know what else sounds "slightly uncomfortable?" Eight cameras. According to Joseph Quinn (Stranger Things)—who stars as co-emperor Geta in Gladiator II—Scott often had eight cameras running on set for just a single scene. "I was like, 'Eight cameras?' and he's like, 'You gotta know where to fucking put 'em,'" Quinn said in a recent interview. "Clearly, he does."

"The set of Gladiator II is a wonder to bear witness to," Quinn continued. "You know that Rutger Hauer speech at the end of Blade Runner? 'I've seen things you people wouldn't believe,' that's what it felt like, just seeing it all."

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