There's a tried and tested approach to filmmaking. A writer writes a script, which a producer approves, amasses money for, and then hires a director to gather a crew and actors to shoot. It's simple really. But for Gladiator, Ridley Scott took a different approach. In fact, Russell Crowe has now admitted that when they begun filming on the 2000 epic, only a paltry number of pages had actually been written.
The Australian actor made this admission to BBC Radio 1, revealing that on the very first days of production they were around 90 pages behind the amount required. to this day, for this reason, Russell Crowe seems stunned that the film went on to win Best Picture. In the interview, Crowe remarked:
That's quite a bind to be in. But Russell Crowe admitted that, led by Ridley Scott, they persevered, and in the days and hours before filming they had to quickly write down possible scenes, without too much thought about how they'd fit in against the rest of the movie. Something that Crowe now freely admits was a preposterously stupid way to make a film:
That's right, despite these problems, Gladiator still went on to beat Traffic, Chocolat, Erin Brockovich, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to win Best Picture at the 73rd Academy Awards. Russell Crowe also claimed Best Actor, too, at the ceremony. But only after things became so bad that the Alien, Blade Runner, and Thelma & Louise director simply decided to give the entire the crew the day off because they "didn't know what we were going to shoot the next day." Again, this movie won Best Picture. Amazing.
At the start of production, Ridley Scott even explained to Russell Crowe that Gladiator's script only had two acts. As it is with most films, it needed three. Scott already knew that Gladiator's opening sequence, which saw Crowe's Maximus Decimus Meridius fight in the Forest of Barbarians, was going to be shot in England. Scott also knew his Rome scenes would be shot in Malta. But he then chartered a plane and took somewhere between 200 and 300 crew members to Morocco without knowing what they were going to shoot there, though.
Whilst there, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe helped to lead a writing team that worked on pages over one weekend and while they were on set. At the same time, freelance writers from the UK and US were also submitting pages. These weren't just interns, though, these were the acclaimed screenwriters William Nicholson (Shadowlands) and John Logan (Any Given Sunday).
In the end, everyone's work got mixed together, too, as Crowe and Scott made a Frankensteinesque script by taking particular lines from one, dismissing the rest, and then mixing it with scenarios from others
Amazingly, it actually worked, though. During the same discussion, Crowe explained that because Ridley Scott was filming Gladiator in a linear fashion, he was able to keep track of what they'd shot, then decide what was needed to make the film better, before asking people to simply write it out for him. It also helped that, despite his cavalier approach, Ridley Scott was particularly responsible for how much money was being spent, and didn't allow Gladiator's costs to completely spiral out of control.
You can check out Russell Crowe's full interview on BBC Radio 1, which was actually conducted to promote The Nice Guys, below.
With all the above in mind, it's no wonder that Russell Crowe put so much oomph into Gladiator's iconic "Are You Not Entertained?" speech. The man had been through a lot.
This isn't the only time Russell Crowe has spoken out about a previous movie. *The man also has bold plans for another Superman movie, though this one would have a twist on _Man of Steel_. What is his idea? *You have to hear it...