‘Gladiator 2’ Actors Allege Production Stole Likeness Without Consent

in Entertainment, Movies


Credit: Universal Pictures

Filmmaking legend Ridley Scott perplexed and delighted many fans when he confirmed that his Oscar-winning film, Gladiator, was returning with a sequel. Despite its 23-year gap, the follow-up has generated buzz due to the caliber of the franchise, the director, and its stellar ensemble cast. The Roman epic has not been without its controversies as it has gone through production halts, fire stunt mishaps, and now potential identity theft.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Gladiator (2000) was a global sensation that turned Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix into a prominent leading men. It grossed nearly $500 million as it would go on to win five Academy Awards, including the coveted, ‘Best Picture.’ Despite its success, critics and fans never expected a sequel due to how definitive Maximus’ character arc was by the end.

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

However, Scott’s next installment will continue its premiere casting with A-listers like, Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Joseph Quinn, Barry Keoghan, Paul Mescal, and returning stars, Djimon Hounsou and Connie Nielsen. The second entry will center around around, Lucius, who was featured as a child in the original film. Young Lucius (Spencer Treat Clark) was the nephew to the nefarious emperor, Commodus (Phoenix) and a surrogate son to the hero, Maximus (Crowe).

Credit: ITM

Gladiator 2 would face its first scandal when shooting in Morocco after the initial filming moved from Malta. The production was reported to have a serious setback due to an accident involving a fire stunt that put four crew members in the hospital. Two more suffered from burn injuries that were deemed “non-life threatening.” Production eventually resumed and the Moroccan Minister of Culture even visited the set as a sign of good will.

Photo Credit: Morocco World News

The highly anticipated sequel would then face another misfortune when the actors strike was put into effect. Even though it was filming overseas, most of the actors were part of SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of TV and Radio Artists). So every big name like Pedro Pascal and Denzel Washington left the set.

Credit: Variety

Some supporters of the opposition have expressed that the actors strike to be a dramatic and unrealistic endeavor. However, a new revelation has allegedly reconfirmed the grievances carry more weight than studios want the public to believe. Several extras for Gladiator 2 have reportedly disclosed that production staff supposedly coerced them into having their faces and bodies scanned in between takes back at the Malta location.

An anonymous background actor elaborated further, “They didn’t explain why they were doing this, we thought they were taking us to do another scene.” Another extra divulged, “It didn’t really feel like we could say no.” Some were not sure what it was needed for and it was not until months later did they suspect it was to make digital copies of them. Another extra expressed, “If they do have your face, you have no idea if it’s going to be put in a trailer or a film or a video.”

Credit: Universal Pictures

While many background actors support the same experience, others have refuted the alleged claim by stating that the production staff verbally asked extras to raise their hands if they were willing to be scanned. However, there has been no confirmation if the actors were provided written consent to being scanned digitally.

The sword-and-sand spectacles of the Golden Age of Classic Hollywood were massive productions with astronomical budgets. Ben-Hur (1959) was noted to hire 10,000 extras to be spectators, Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra (1963) used 20,000 extras, and Spartacus (1960) had a head-spinning count of 50,000 extras. While Ridley Scott was able to whittle down the extra count to 2,000 for Gladiator, a movie of this scale was expected to require the same amount.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

An additional extra claimed that staff said, “We will use this to fill in the gaps in the crowd [of the Colosseum].” The background actor would continue that there was no explanation or written documentation of how that affected their financial compensation. One local actor articulated their frustration, “Less extras means less days, smaller setups, less crew and less work for everyone.”

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Even with these series of blunders, many fans are still excited to experience Ridley Scott unleash Hades with the film’s quintessential immersive action sequences, groundbreaking visual effects and gripping characters. Paramount Pictures will certainly have to answer for their alleged deception as they attempt to maintain the the legacy of this beloved franchise.

Gladiator 2 is slated for a November 22, 2024 release.

in Entertainment, Movies

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