Paul Mescal to star in Gladiator sequel for Ridley Scott

Normal People and Aftersun star Paul Mescal is headed for Ancient Rome. The talented young actor will star in Gladiator 2 for director Ridley Scott and studio Paramount, cementing Mescal's swift rise up the Hollywood A-list.

Scott's original Gladiator movie resurrected the moribund swords and sandals genre. It stunned audiences with its lavish recreation of the Roman Empire and made an Oscar-winning star out of Russell Crowe in the central role of general-turned-slave Maximus.

At the end of the first movie, Maximus takes revenge on Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), who betrayed him and slaughtered his family. Prior to venturing into the afterlife, known as Elysium, Maximus ensured that all the Roman slaves be freed.

The sequel is said to be picking up with the elder Lucius, the son of Maximus' one-time love, and Commodus' sister, Lucilla (played by Connie Nielsen). Mescal will be stepping into the role of Lucius, taking over from original actor Spencer Treat Clark.

David Scarpa, who scribed Scott's movie All the Money in the World, will pen the screenplay. Gladiator veterans Janty Yates (costumes) and Arthur Max (production design) are also reported to be returning.

Deadline reports that Mescal was "one of the first to sit down with the director". It adds: "Although Scott continued to meet with other talent, insiders say it seemed clear to all involved that Mescal clearly was Scott’s top choice following a fantastic meeting between the two."

That's all the news we have at the moment. Nevertheless, the prospect of such a brilliant young actor teaming up with the visionary Scott is hugely exciting for those of us in this life and the next.

In the meantime, the ubiquitous Scott is reuniting with Joaquin Phoenix for the sweeping Napoleon Bonaparte biopic, Napoleon. The movie is set for release in 2023.