Gladiator 2 has been stuck in development hell for decades. The movie was first talked about not long after the original film became a massive blockbuster and an Oscar winner for Best Picture. Director Ridley Scott has always been interested in continuing its story about an enslaved warrior who becomes a hero to ancient Rome — even though that hero, played by Russell Crowe, died at the end of the film. That proved to be something of an obstacle to a sequel; at one point, a proposed concept would have seen Crowe’s character get resurrected from beyond the grave.

That idea never got off the ground, but a few years ago, Scott began developing a different sequel concept focused on Crowe’s gladiator’s son. Last fall, Scott insisted it was going to be his next movie after his upcoming biopic about Napoleon. And it looks like he might be true to his word.

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Deadline reports that Paul Mescal is “in negotiations” to star in the Gladiator sequel. Mescal was recently seen in the buzzy independent drama Aftersun. Per Deadline, Mescal will play the son of Crowe’s character from the original Gladiator:

Mescal won’t be replacing Crowe’s Maximus, whose character met his end in the original film, but instead he will be playing Lucius, the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), who now is a grown man as the story takes place years after the first film ended. Lucius was also the nephew of Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the son of Roman leader Marcus Aurelius who murdered his father seized the throne and wound up in the gladiator ring with Maximus — who, though mortally wounded, skewered the emperor before fading into the great beyond to reunite with his slain wife and son. Maximus saved the boy and his mother while avenging his own family, and left a strong impression on the young Lucius.

Gladiator 2 is one of the ultimate I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it movies, in that it’s been talked about for so many years and never actually happened. Then again, in recent years we’ve got other improbable sequels like Ghostbusters: AfterlifeStar Wars: The Force AwakensTop Gun: Maverick, and Blade Runner 2049. So stranger things have happened.

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