Gladiator – Behind the Scenes

A tale of loss, heartbreak, and the true cost of victory, Gladiator is filled with fighting scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat, but the story is about much more than that. It tells the tale of a good man and warrior who faces evil in those around him. Despite all of the obstacles he must overcome, his heart takes him far, but is it enough? You’ll have to watch – or keep reading – to find out.

Plot Summary

After taking home a hard-fought victory for his Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, General Maximus Decimus Meridius successfully ends the Roman war against the Germanic barbarians. Impressed by Maximus’s ability to lead, Emperor Marcus Aurelius names him the successor to the throne, casting his own son aside. Though Gladiator Maximus denies the honor, Marcus Aurelius claims that his humility is what makes him the right person for the role, confident that Maximus will restore the republic.

In an intimate conversation between the Emperor and his son, Commodus, Commodus admits that he is disappointed in his father’s decision. He claims that all he ever sought was his father’s approval and love before smothering the Emperor and taking the throne for himself. Commodus asks Maximus for his support, but when Maximus realizes that Commodus is responsible for his own father’s death, he declines. Commodus orders the execution of Maximus and his wife and son. Miraculously, Maximus escapes home, only to find the bodies of his murdered wife and child.

Video: Gladiator opening scene – 2000


Eventually, a group of slave traders find Maximus and sell him to the head of a gladiator school, Proximo. Though he lacked any will to live at first, Maximus begins to defend himself in the arena and earn an impressive reputation. Soon after, Commodus begins hosting gladiator games to honor his father, and it isn’t long before Maximus finds himself in the ring, fighting to stay alive and earn the love of the crowd.

Gladiator Maximus gif

The Gladiator achieves success, rising up against all odds, time and time again in the ring. With each win, the crowd falls further in love and Commodus becomes more determined to kill Maximus. After some time, Maximus’s old servant Cicero tells him that his army is still loyal to him, not Commodus. Lucilla, Commodus’s sister, and Maximus’s old lover, begins to hatch a plan with Maximus to overthrow her brother, as she is worried that he is unstable and unfit for the role. Commodus finds out about the plot and his warriors storm Proximo’s barracks; a bloody fight ensues, but Maximus escapes.

Fight to the Death

Finally, Commodus challenges Maximus to a one-on-one fight in the ring. But, knowing that he cannot win, Commodus injures Maximus prior to the fight, hiding the injury under armor. Nonetheless, after a tough fight, Maximus is victorious, killing Commodus with his own weapon. After the fight, a crumbling Maximus begins to die from his injury. Before he takes his last breath, he orders for the release of Proximo’s gladiators and names one of his allies, Senator Gracchus, as leader of the republic. With his mission accomplished, he finally sees his wife and son in the afterlife and goes to them.

Gladiator Cast:

  • Russell Crowe – Maximus
  • Joaquin Phoenix – Commodus
  • Connie Nielsen – Lucilla
  • Oliver Reed – Proximo
  • Richard Harris – Marcus Aurelius
  • David Schofield – Falco
  • Derek Jacobi – Gracchus
  • Djimon Hounsou – Juba
  • Tomas Arana – Quintus
  • John Shrapnel – Gaius
  • Spencer Treat Clark – Lucius
  • Ralf Moeller – Hagen
  • Tommy Flanagan – Cicero
  • David Hemmings – Cassius
  • Omid Djalili – Slave Trader
  • Sven-Ole Thorsen – Tigris
  • Chris Kell – Scribe
  • Nicholas McGaughey – Praetorian Officer
  • John Quinn – Valerius
  • Tony Curran- Assassin #1
  • Mark Lewis – Assassin #2
  • David Bailie – Engineer
  • Alun Raglan – Praetorian Guard #1
  • David J. Nicholls – Giant Man
  • Chick Allan – German Leader
  • Giannina Facio – Maximus’ Wife
  • Al Ashton – Rome Trainer #1 (as Al Hunter Ashton)
  • Billy Dowd – Narrator
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Fun Facts About Gladiator

  1. Mel Gibson was offered the role of Maximus in Gladiator but turned it down because he felt he was too old for the role. It was only then that Russell Crowe took on the iconic role.
  2. Oliver Reed, who played Proximo in the movie, died of a heart attack before filming wrapped up. Digital technology was used to finish his role in the movie.
  3. The movie received 12 Oscar nominations and won 5 of them, including Best Actor for Russell Crowe and Best Picture.
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