In 2000, “Gladiator” by Ridley Scott was released. The film became cult in part thanks to excellent dialogues. Yet one of Maximus’ best-known phrases did not appeal to its interpreter Russell Crowe at all.
Gladiator, the immense peplum of Ridley Scott
When we think of Ridley scott, the first film titles that come to mind are probably Alien, Blade runner and of course, Gladiator. While most of the director’s filmography is impressive, these films are some of the most entrenched works in pop culture. For Gladiator, this resulted in five Oscars in 2001, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell crowe.
Moreover, when we evoke the actor, it is difficult not to associate him, even today, with his iconic role of Maximus, this Roman general betrayed by Commodus, the son of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, who hesitates not to assassinate his father to take his place. A terrible character perfectly embodied by Joaquin Phoenix, while Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed or Djimon Hounsou offer themselves solid supporting roles.
All this, under the precise direction of Ridley Scott, gave birth to a memorable and still captivating film more than 20 years later. What to give ideas to the director who is currently preparing a sequel to Gladiator.
My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius …
Considered a cult film, Gladiator is largely for his sharp lines. These are also very well highlighted in the French version, in particular thanks to the dubbing of Marc Alfos (voice of Russell Crowe). It is also thanks to him that we tirelessly emerge this memorable monologue : “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the North, General of the Phoenix Legions, faithful servant of the true Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Father of a murdered son, husband of a murdered woman and I will have my revenge in this life or the next“.
Yet this passage could have been different. More precisely the last part: I will have my revenge in this life or the next. Indeed, this piece did not please Russell Crowe, as explained The Guardian referring to Nicole LaPorte’s new book on the DreamWorks studio (which co-produced the film and distributed it in North America). The actor found this sentence ridiculous and preferred improvise something else when filming. He tried several variations, but none were convincing. So he had to go back to the script and say this famous sentence reluctantly. But not without showing his disagreement by going to say to Ridley Scott after the take:
It was crap. But I’m the greatest actor in the world and I can make shit look good.
The actor did not go there by four ways. But despite his probably pretty huge ego, he at least gave his best to recite his dialogue. So one can wonder if it’s Russell Crowe who makes this sentence so powerful, or if it’s just the text that fits perfectly …