Paul Mescal is hopeful that Gladiator II and Wicked can repeat the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon.

The two blockbusters are both set to hit cinemas on November 22 and Mescal hopes that the opposing films can recreate the frenzy that came with the release of Barbie and Oppenheimer simultaneously in July 2023.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Mescal said: “Wickdiator doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it? I think my preference would probably be Glicked if it has a similar effect to what it did for Barbie and Oppenheimer.”

“It would be amazing ’cause I think the films couldn’t be more polar opposites, and it worked in that context previously. So, fingers crossed people come out and see both films on opening weekend.”

The Oscar-nominee plays the role of Lucius Verus in the sequel, the former heir to the Roman Empire who is forced into slavery. He explained the challenges of getting into shape for the part without going over the top.

Gladiator II
Paramount Pictures

READ MORE: Russell Crowe is Uncomfortable With Gladiator II Being Made

The 28-year-old actor said: “I just wanted to be big and strong and look like somebody who can cause a bit of damage when s— hits the fan. I think also, sometimes, one could, in striving for that perfect look, end up looking more like an underwear model than a warrior. Muscles start to grow, and that can be deemed aesthetic in certain capacities, but there is something about feeling strong in your body that elicits just a different feeling.”

Sir Ridley Scott’s historical epic comes 24 years after the original was released and Mescal explained that the sequel pays “homage” to its predecessor while creating a new story at the same time.

He said: “I think the main thing that I'm excited about is the homage that it pays to the first one but also the kind of new direction that the film takes. I think it's well balanced in that regard in terms of the physical action of the film and the balance of the kind of political aspects of the film as well.”

Gladiator II is scheduled to open in theaters on November 22.

ScreenCrush logo
Get our free mobile app

12 Horror Movies Inspired By Real Events

It always feels a little scarier knowing something like this really did happen. 

Gallery Credit: Emma Stefansky

More From ScreenCrush