Paul Mescal Muses on Post-‘Gladiator 2’ Fame: ‘If It Impacts My Life… I’ll Be in a Bad Spot’

Oscar-nominated actor Paul Mescal is bracing for his level of celebrity to skyrocket after the release of Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator” sequel.

Mescal is playing the lead role of Lucius (previously played by Spencer Treat Clark in the original 2000 film) for “Gladiator 2,” set 20 years after the events of the first film. The estimated era for the feature is 200 B.C.E., with Lucius leading the next generation of the ruling Roman family after the death of his uncle Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Pedro Pascal and Denzel Washington co-star.

Mescal recently spoke to The Sunday Times about how the big-budget feature could mark a turning point in his career, especially when it comes to dealing with fame.

“I don’t know what the difference will be. Maybe that’s naïve? Is it just that more people will stop you in the street?” Mescal asked. “I’d get profoundly depressed if that’s so and hope it isn’t true. I’ll have an answer next year, but if [the film] impacts my life in that way, I’ll be in a bad spot.”

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OPPENHEIMER, Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, 2023. © Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

The “All of Us Strangers” actor previously told Esquire that he was “stressed” about “Gladiator 2” since it’s the “biggest” film he’s ever starred in. The Paramount Pictures sequel is set to be released November 22, 2024.

“I can’t tell you how stressed I am talking about that film in particular, because it’s definitely the biggest one I’ve done,” Mescal said. “I feel really excited, but, like, it’s difficult to get away from the legacy of the film a bit. I think it’s really well written and it pays homage to the first one, but it’s very much something that I think I can step into and make comfortably my own.”

Mescal formerly shut down speculations of him joining any superhero movies, saying to GQ UK, “It’s not something that I am pining to do. I don’t know if I would have the patience required. And I am deeply envious of people who do have that patience. I know that if I make that decision, I’m not going to wake up in five years’ time and be surprised I didn’t get time off to go to Turkey and make an independent film for two months. Knowledge is power.”

The “Aftersun” actor is also filming Richard Linklater’s “Merrily We Roll Along” across 20 years. Mescal emphasized to IndieWire that “indie cinema is where I want to live and be. So to be in the middle of that is something that I take great pride in.”

He added in another IndieWire interview, “​I love a blockbuster as much as the next person, but my only point is that we have to be careful about just leaving a bit more space for films like ‘Aftersun’ to break out… I really don’t think I’m snobby about it. It’s actually to do with just being worried that that space [for independent film] is being encroached upon. And if we don’t keep the ecosystem balanced, we’re just gonna have one kind of film.”


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