The first look images of Paul Mescal in Gladiator II have been shared, Ridley’s Scott’s sequel to the Russell Crowe-starring, Oscar winning original.

In the images, obtained by Vanity Fair, Mescal looks to be channeling Crowe’s Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius from the 2000 film. Maximus is betrayed and enslaved as a gladiator, later fighting his way up the ranks to avenge the murders of his family and the emperor.

In the new film, Mescal will lead a new story that focuses on Lucius, the son of Connie Nielsen’s Lucilla from the first film. Nielsen will be reprising her role, and the cast will also be joined by Pedro Pascal, Denzel Washington and Stranger Things actor Joseph Quinn.

In Vanity Fair, Mescal opened up about appearing in the film as Lucius, talking through some of the images shared which show him bloodied and fighting.

He also spoke about how Scott called him during his time playing in A Street Car Named Desire in London to first talk about the role in the sequel.

“We spoke for about 20 to 30 minutes,” Mescal recalled. “I wanted to get a flavour from him about what the story was going to be about, so we spent about 15 minutes talking about that, and then we spent another 10 minutes talking about the sport that I played growing up—Gaelic football. Maybe that was something that helped with it, in that I’m used to being physical in my body. My memory of it is that probably two or three weeks later, the offer came in,” Mescal revealed.

When asked about what the story is about, he explained: “[It’s about] what human beings will do to survive, but also what human beings will do to win.

“We see that in the arena, but also in the political struggle that’s going on outside of my character’s storyline, where you see there’s other characters striving and pulling for power. Where’s the space for humanity? Where’s the space for love, familial connection? And ultimately, will those things overcome this kind of greed and power? Those things are oftentimes directly in conflict with each other.”

Check out the first look images here:

Recently, Crowe opened up about Gladiator II, saying that he was “slightly uncomfortable” that a sequel was being made.

Speaking to Kyle Meredith, Crowe said: “I’m slightly uncomfortable with the fact they’re making another one — because, of course, I’m dead and I have no say in what gets done. But a couple of the things I’ve heard I’m like ‘No, no, no, that’s not in the moral journey of that particular character’. But I can’t say anything, it’s not my place, I’m six foot under. So we’ll see what that is like.”

Crowe continued: “I reflect back: the age I was when I made that film and all the things that came after it, the doors that particular movie opened for me. This is just me being purely honest: there’s definitely a tinge of melancholy, a tinge of jealousy. I remember when I had tendons.”

In January, Mescal also shared his concern about the fame which may come with the epic sequel. Speaking to The Sunday Times, the Irish actor said about the film’s upcoming release: “I don’t know what the difference will be. Maybe that’s naive? Is it just that more people will stop you in the street?”

He continued: “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. I’d have to move on and do an obtuse play nobody wants to see.”

Gladiator 2 is due to release on November 22 globally.

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