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Paul Mescal: I’ll do a dull play if Gladiator gives me global fame

Irish actor Paul Mescal has said that if Gladiator 2 makes him become globally famous he will “have to move on and do an obtuse play nobody wants to see”.

The original film about a Roman general, called Maximus Decimus Meridius, who ends up in slavery after the murder of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, became a global hit and raised the profile of Russell Crowe.

Crowe won an Oscar for the movie, which received 12 Academy Award nominations, taking home five gongs.

Noah Premiere – London
Russell Crowe played Maximus Decimus Meridius in the original Gladiator film (Ian West/PA)

In Gladiator 2, Sir Ridley Scott returns to direct and Connie Nielsen plays Lucilla alongside Mescal, with Denzel Washington and Pedro Pascal also joining the cast.

Mescal, who will reportedly play the lead character of Lucius, Lucilla’s grown-up son, told the Sunday Times he does not know what “difference” an increased level of fame could mean.

The Olivier Award winner added: “Maybe that’s naive? Is it just that more people will stop you in the street? I’d get profoundly depressed if that’s so and hope it isn’t true.

“I’ll have an answer next year, but if (Gladiator 2) 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.”

He also said that when he meets people it is generally OK but “if someone wants to be a dick and say that they went on a date with me, it doesn’t reflect poorly on me, it reflects poorly on them”.

Film Andrew Scott
Andrew Scott, left, and Paul Mescal in a scene from All Of Us Strangers (Parisa Taghizadeh/ Searchlight Pictures/AP)

Elsewhere in the interview, the Maynooth-born actor spoke about how toxic masculinity has “ruined the world”.

“Changing what it means to be a man isn’t an easy thing, there’s a lot of painful conversations to be had,” he said.

Mescal rose to fame for playing complex student Connell in hit BBC romantic series Normal People.

Last year, he was nominated for an Oscar and Bafta for Aftersun, about a father struggling with his mental health while on holiday with his daughter, and won an Olivier Award for a stage adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire.

His latest film, romantic fantasy drama All Of Us Strangers, sees him star opposite fellow Irish actor Andrew Scott.

– Gladiator 2 is set for a November release.