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Russell Crowe Hated Gladiator More Than You Think

For better or worse, Russell Crowe's life changed when he was cast as the headliner in Ridley Scott's "Gladiator." The pic, which emerged as a cultural phenomenon in 2000, became a box office juggernaut, grossing north of $450 million. The historical epic's pronounced success launched Crowe to international superstardom, giving him his first (and to date only) Oscar. Despite the movie being considered by many as one of the best action movies of all time, Crowe seems to absolutely detest his star-making picture.

While speaking with Vanity Fair in 2023, the New Zealand actor opened up about why he first hated the film. "At the core of what we were doing was a great concept, but the script, it was rubbish. Absolute rubbish," Crowe candidly stated. While he had no qualms about taking on a leading role, the actor was less than enthusiastic about the release's narrative and some of its creative choices. The "Pope's Exorcist" star was particularly critical about how certain gladiators in the film had endorsement deals. While this inclusion was historically accurate, it just didn't jive well with Crowe, who felt that modern audiences would mock it.

While "Gladiator" is widely thought of as one of the best films from the 2000s, Crowe was initially so annoyed by some of the creative decisions that he considered taking drastic measures. "The energy around what we were doing was very fractured," he said. "I did think, a couple times, maybe my best option is just to get on a plane and get out of here, you know?"

Ridley Scott convinced Russell Crowe to stick with Gladiator

While Russell Crowe seriously considered leaving "Gladiator," he found a savior in the film's director. The thespian had a number of conversations with Ridley Scott about the film's narrative, with the "Blade Runner" director insistent on working things out with Crowe. "He said to me at some point in time, 'We're not committing anything to camera that you don't believe in, 100 percent,'" the Maximus actor told Vanity Fair.

Crowe also said that when production first started, he and Scott only gelled on about 21 pages of the screenplay. "A script is usually between 103 or 104, 110 pages, something like that, so we had a long way to go, and we basically used up those pages in the first section of the movie," the star said, adding, "By the time we got to our second location, which was Morocco, we were sort of catching up."

Following the success of "Gladiator," Scott and Crowe continued to work together, teaming up for pics like "American Gangster," "Body of Lies," "Robin Hood," and more. It seems like Crowe has warmed up to his first film with Scott, as he's since shared some fond memories from "Gladiator" while also expressing how jealous he is that he's not part of the sequel.

Love Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe's historical epic and want more? Watch the first trailer for "Gladiator 2," which features Paul Mescal and Pedro Pascal fighting to the death.