Gladiator: this iconic decapitation that Russell Crowe absolutely wanted to shoot

“Gladiator” is full of memorable moments. Among them is an execution by decapitation. A finish that was not planned but was proposed by Russell Crowe to Ridley Scott during filming.

Unforgettable Russel Crowe in Gladiator

Russell Crowe will likely forever be associated with his role as Maximus in Gladiator (2000). It must be said that the film Ridley Scott borders on perfection and wins with countless memorable sequences, magnificently accompanied by the music of Hans Zimmer. One thinks for example of this opening on the battlefield where the Roman general Maximus leads his troops to victory against the barbarians. Then discovering his family massacred after the betrayal of the new Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Without forgetting the various fights in the arenas before obtaining his revenge in the Colosseum in Rome.

Gladiator ©Universal Pictures

There’s something limpid in Gladiator. The sequences follow each other perfectly and each shot seems to have been thought out to become iconic. However, things could have been different because Ridley Scott had to make choices, impose his ideas or, on the contrary, change certain elements. We know for example that Russell Crowe hated the monologue “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius…“. It took the insistence of the filmmaker for the actor to agree to say it. But, conversely, the actor also had a good idea with this fight scene concludes with a mythical decapitation.

A memorable performance

Indeed, during an interview with QG, Russell Crowe returned to the iconic roles of his career. He therefore logically shared some anecdotes about Gladiator and explained that this execution was not originally planned. But the actor submitted the idea to Ridley Scott to finish with the decapitation. Only, on a big budget film, everything must be done in a precise way with a schedule to respect.

He told me he couldn’t just add it like that. That it was a big thing and he was going to have to talk about it with the studio.

But Russell Crowe insisted by showing him directly what it could give, reproducing the two choreographies (the first and his).

He saw that it was more dynamic, closer to the character. He started smoking his cigar, he thought, then called his first assistant director and said, “Terry, how many heads do we have left?”

A well-felt “improvisation” in the end on the part of Russell Crowe as this finish stay in mind. The full interview can be seen in the video below. The passage on Gladiator starts at 7:30 p.m.

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Gladiator: this iconic decapitation that Russell Crowe absolutely wanted to shoot