Fans of Russell Crowe will know that Gladiator is arguably one of the greatest films of all time, and it played a crucial role in the resurgence of period movies.
Indiewire claims the ending of Ridley Scott’s Academy Award-winning movie has continued making viewers emotional ever since its release twenty years ago. In case you missed it, the very ending has Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus, against Commodus, portrayed by Joaquin Pheonix, in the Colosseum.
While Russell manages to slay the corrupt Emperor of Rome, he dies in the process due to a stab wound in his lungs before heading out on the battlefield. Reportedly, Ridley initially planned for Russell’s character to live.
But after the film progressed, and the mood was established, Ridley said to him there was no way Russell’s character could live. It just had to end with Maximus’ passing. In a new interview with Empire Magazine, Crowe reflected on the iconic movie’s ending.
He recalled the time when Scott approached him with the idea. Russell said it felt right, because the character’s line, “my name is Maximus,” was basically like a suicide note right off the bat. Russell said Scott approached him and said he couldn’t see how Maximus could live.
Scott asked what would Maximus even do once he finally completed his act of vengeance? The entire movie revolves around avenging the death of his slain wife and son. Russell agreed, joking that it’s not like he was going to “run a f*cking pizzeria by the Colosseum.”
Moreover, his final speech has more weight with his death, thus, it was simply the right decision to make for the character. It wasn’t all drama behind the scenes, however. Crowe said it was tough to film the speech scene because every time he took off the helmet, it made his hair stand up.
Russell joked that he tried to do it slowly, but regardless of what he did, two pieces of hair always stood up and made him look like a “Teletubby.” Ridley fixed the issue by zooming in on his face and omitting the back of his head.