Why Paul Mescal Replaced Spencer Treat Clark in ‘Gladiator II’ – Hollywood Life

Paul Mescal in a scene from 'Gladiator II'
Image Credit: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures/YouTube

Ridley Scott‘s Gladiator sequel is starring fan-favorite actors. Alongside Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal and Joseph Quinn, Paul Mescal is playing the main role of Lucius. In the original 2000 movie, Lucius — the son of Lucilla — was a child. Gladiator II reintroduces him as the former heir to the empire, and he assumes his mother is dead since he hasn’t seen her in 15 years. Since Paul is playing the adult version of Lucius, moviegoers are wondering what happened to the original actor who had the role: Spencer Treat Clark.

Hollywood Life has rounded up the details on the casting behind Gladiator II, below.

Where Is Spencer Treat Clark?

Spencer is still working as an actor. Since starring in Gladiator, he went on to appear in Unbreakable, Glass and Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. The Columbia University grad has also starred in recurring television roles, such as in Animal Kingdom and Manhunt.

Why Did Paul Mescal Replace Spencer in ‘Gladiator II’?

Neither Paul nor Spencer have spoken out about the casting for Gladiator II. However, Ridley sat down with Total Film about the reason why he specifically chose Paul to play the role of Lucius.

“Can I see Paul Mescal being as big as Russell Crowe? For sure,” Ridley told the outlet in October 2023, referring to his lead for the original Gladiator. Ridley then pointed out that he watched Paul’s show, which convinced him to cast the actor. “I watched Normal People. It’s not my kind of show but I saw four episodes in a row – boom, boom, boom. I was thinking, ‘Who the hell is this Paul Mescal?’ And then I watched the whole series. And then, suddenly, Gladiator II came up, because the script was working pretty well. And I kept thinking about Paul. And that was it.”

How Long Was the Sequel in Development?

Gladiator II had technically been in development since 2001 — one year after the original movie came out. Despite taking over two decades to produce, the film was already set to focus on Lucius and his past. By 2003, the script was reportedly finished, but the project went into development hell after 2006.

While speaking with Total Film, Ridley noted that the film “didn’t have a script [before]” and that he “chose a very good writer who couldn’t get his head around it.”

“So, it went dead,” the director added. “And then we circled the wagons again, coming back with a very obvious idea, and why not? There’s a survivor. The survivor is the son of the union between Lucilla and Maximus.”

More than a decade later, Ridley hadn’t given up on the sequel. In 2018, Paramount Pictures officially green-lit the project, and Paul was cast as Lucius in 2023.

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