Ridley Scott’s long-awaited Gladiator sequel has gotten a big boost of star power with the news that Denzel Washington is in talks to co-star in the film.

Washington was not a part of the original Gladiator, the 2000 historical epic that became the Academy Award winner for Best Picture that year. He has worked with Scott before; he starred in his 2007 film, American Gangster (which co-starred original Gladiator actor Russell Crowe). And Washington had an even longer relationship with Ridley Scott’s brother, the late Tony Scott, with whom he made numerous thrillers, including Crimson TideMan on Fire, and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

According to Deadline, Washington is in “final negotiations” for a starring role in the film. They did not disclose who he will play. They write that “after reading the script, sources close to the project said [Washington] was excited about the bad-ass role Scott had written with him in mind.” They also claim Washington would play the “other major role” in the film alongside Paul Mescal, who is starring in the sequel as a character who had been a boy in the first movie.

DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures

READ MORE: Russell Crowe Says the Gladiator Script Was Terrible

Scott and others have spent much of the last 20 years off and on trying to get a Gladiator sequel off the ground. Some of the proposed concepts for Gladiator 2 involved literally resurrecting Russell Crowe’s Maximus and turning the series into more of a fantasy epic. Others focused on Lucius, the young son of Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla, who idolized Crowe’s gladiator character in the original movie. This version will reportedly focus on Lucius, played by Mescal. At present, Crowe is not expected to return for the sequel.

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