Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What The Cast Of Gladiator Is Doing Now

Twenty-one years have passed since Russell Crowe rallied his troops with the words, "What we do in life, echoes in eternity," over two decades gone since Joaquin Phoenix asked, "Am I not merciful?" We are, of course, talking about Ridley Scott's 2000 masterpiece, "Gladiator" — the last war epic to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, per Today.

Released in 2000, "Gladiator" tells the story of Maximus Decimus Meridius, a Roman officer seeking revenge for his enslavement and the murder of his wife and child by Commodus, the patricidal son of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. The film has the rare distinction of being not only an Academy Award winner but also a massive box office success. "Gladiator" was the top earner in 2000 behind "Mission: Impossible II" (per Box Office Mojo), and the fourth highest-earning Best Picture winner of all time (per ScreenRant). Given its critical, commercial, and awards success, it comes as no shock that most of the cast of "Gladiator" have become household names over the last 20 years. Let's check in and see what the actors who starred in the epic have been up to.

Russell Crowe added more iconic roles to his resumé

In the years leading up to "Gladiator," Russell Crowe — who plays Maximus — had built an impressive resumé. In 1997, he starred alongside Kevin Spacey and Kim Basinger in the Oscar-nominated "L.A. Confidential." The year before "Gladiator," he earned his first Academy Award nomination for his starring role in "The Insider," which also earned a Best Picture nod. Crowe's knack for selecting prestigious roles and films continued after "Gladiator."

In 2001, he starred in Ron Howard's Academy Award-winner "A Beautiful Mind," for which Crowe received his third consecutive Best Actor nomination. Two years later, the New Zealand native played Jack Aubrey in "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," another Best Picture nominee. Teaming with Howard again, Crowe laced up his gloves to play real-life boxer James J. Braddock in "Cinderella Man." Crowe finished the decade with leading roles in the 2007 remake "3:10 to Yuma," Ridley Scott's "American Gangster," and the political thriller "State of Play."

Crowe's relationship with Ridley Scott continued into the 2010s when he played the titular character in "Robin Hood." Trading his bow for a badge in 2012, Crowe showed off his vocal chops playing the sinister Javert in the Oscar-nominated "Les Misérables." Crowe's habit of playing iconic characters remained through much of the decade, with roles as Superman's father Jor-El in "Man of Steel," the titular character in 2014's "Noah," and Dr. Jeckell/Mr. Hyde in 2017's "The Mummy." Most recently, Crowe led the cast of 2020's "Unhinged." The actor currently has two projects in the wings, the horror-thriller "The Georgetown Project" and 2022's "Thor: Love and Thunder," in which he'll play Zeus.

Joaquin Phoenix earned gold as the Joker

As the antagonist Commodus in "Gladiator," Joaquin Phoenix unnerved audiences with his dark and menacing delivery. The role earned Phoenix his first-ever Academy Award nomination, which made him and late-brother River the only brothers to receive Oscar nominations for acting (per Guinness World Records). Shortly after the success of "Gladiator," Phoenix teamed with M. Night Shyamalan for 2002's "Signs" and 2004's "The Village." In 2005, Phoenix played Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line," which earned him his first Best Actor nod.

In 2010, Phoenix raised eyebrows after giving a bizarre interview on "The Late Show with David Letterman," which turned out to be a performance piece for the mockumentary "I'm Still Here." Two years later, Phoenix — a method actor — disappeared into the role of Freddie Quell in the psychological drama "The Master," and the role earned Phoenix his second Best Actor nomination. For much of the 2010s, Phoenix accepted roles in smaller independent projects like "Her" and "You Were Never Really Here." In 2019, the actor finally won gold for his performance as Arthur Fleck in Todd Phillip's "Joker." Phoenix's next project, the forthcoming "C'mon C'mon," is a return to small-budget films.

Connie Nielsen plays Wonder Woman's mother

Prior to playing Lucilla, Commodus' sister in "Gladiator," Connie Nielsen had only a handful of credits. Her performance, however, raised her profile significantly. Immediately after "Gladiator," she starred opposite Robin Williams in the psychological thriller "One Hour Photo." From there, she played the lead actress in 2003's "The Hunted" and "Basic," as well as "The Ice Harvest" in 2005. Similar to Joaquin Phoenix, Nielsen spent the next ten years appearing in small-budget films, as well as the Starz series "Boss."

Nielsen made her return to blockbuster fare with 2017's "Wonder Woman." She played Amazon queen Hippolyta, mother of Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman. Nielsen reprised the role in "Justice League" that same year, as well as in "Wonder Woman 1984" and the recently released Snyder cut of "Justice League." Nielsen's most recent film, "Nobody," was released in March 2021, in which she plays Becca Mansell, the wife of a former CIA operative Hutch "Nobody" Mansell (Bob Odenkirk).

Djimon Hounsou worked for both DC and Marvel

Rounding out the impressive cast of "Gladiator" is Djimon Hounsou in the supporting role of Juba, Maximus' fellow slave and closest ally. Born in the West African country of Benin, Hounsou began his career as a model based in Paris. He first caught the attention of movie fans with his 1997 performance as Joseph Cinqué in Steven Spielberg's epic "Amistad." After "Gladiator," the actor had a supporting role in 2002's "In America," which earned him his first Best Supporting Actor nomination. The Academy would bestow a second nomination on Hounsou for his supporting work in the Leonardo DiCaprio-led film "Blood Diamond."

Much like his "Gladiator" co-stars, Hounsou would eventually enter the world of comic book movies, first as Korath in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's "Guardians of the Galaxy," a role he reprised in "Captain Marvel," then in DC's "Aquaman" and "Shazam!" Currently, Hounsou has two live-action movies in the works. The first is "A Quiet Place Part II," followed by "The King's Man," the third film Matthew Vaughn's "Kingsman" franchise.