Nick Cave’s Script For Gladiator 2

Russell Crowes asked Cave to write the script for Gladiator 2 - the result is far-out ride of time travel and a giraffe struck by lightning


Before Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2, Nick Cave wrote his original sequel to Gladiator (2000) at the behest of the film’s star, Russell Crowe. It’s not known is David Scarpa, who wrote Scott’s version, read Cave’s script first, but if he did there will be no allegation of plagiarism. Cave’s working title was Christ Killer. And his Gladiator fights in Vietnam. The Roman emperor cries when his giraffe is struck by lightning.

“Didn’t you die in Gladiator 1?” Cave asked Crowe. “Yeah, you sort that out,” Crowe replied.

Cave discussed Gladiator 2 with Marc Maron in 2013.

Marc Maron: Do you know Russell Crowe?

Cave: I do know Russell, yeah. I know Russell really well.

Maron: You do? How’d that come about?

Cave: He read the script of The Proposition, which is a film I wrote with John Hillcoat which is an Australian western which he championed and was almost in but that didn’t work out. That didn’t work out, but eventually he rang me up and asked if I wanted to write Gladiator 2…

Maron: Of course! If you want that movie, who are you going to go to? Nick Cave is the guy!

Cave: Which, for someone who had only written one film script, it was quite an ask.

Maron: Did you do it?

Cave: I did, yeah.

Maron: And what happened with that script?

Cave: It didn’t make it.

Maron: What was the story for the second Gladiator?

Cave: Well, that’s where it all went wrong. Very briefly, it was, I’m like, “Hey, Russell, didn’t you die in Gladiator 1?” He’s going, “Yeah, you sort that out.” So, he [Maximus] goes down to purgatory and is sent down by the gods, who are dying in heaven because there’s this one god, there’s this Christ character, down on Earth who is gaining popularity and so the many gods are dying so they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and all his followers. This was already getting… I wanted to call it Christ Killer, and in the end you find out that the main guy was his son, so he has to kill his son and he’s tricked by the gods and all of this sort of stuff. So it ends with, he becomes this eternal warrior and it ends with this 20-minute war scene which follows all the wars in history, right up to Vietnam and all that sort of stuff and it was wild.

Maron: That sounds amazing!

Cave: It was a stone-cold masterpiece.

Maron: How did Russell Crowe react to that?

Cave: I said, “What did you think?” “Don’t like it, mate.” “What about the end?” “Don’t like it, mate.”

Maron: That’s great! Do you like that script?

Cave: I enjoyed writing it very much. I enjoyed writing it because I knew on every level that it was never going to get made.

Maron: Christ Killer: The Second Gladiator!

Cave: Let’s call it a popcorn dropper.

Cave’s film never did get made. Years later, said: “I enjoyed writing it very much because I knew on every level that it was never going to get made.”

You can read the script here:

Lead Image; Creative Commoins: Nick Cave, Øyafestivalen 2022. Foto: Kim Erlandsen, NRK P3. Nick Cave, Øyafestivalen 2022. Foto: Kim Erlandsen, NRK P3.

Would you like to support Flashbak?

Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.