Paul Mescal says he’ll be ‘depressed’ if he becomes more famous after Gladiator 2

Paul Mescal has said he’ll be “profoundly depressed” if Gladiator 2 makes him globally famous, as the release date for Ridley Scott’s epic approaches.

The original 2000 film about a Roman general, Maximus Decimus Meridius, who ends up in slavery after the murder of emperor Marcus Aurelius, became a global hit and raised the profile of its lead Russell Crowe.

Crowe, now 59, won an Oscar for the movie, which received 12 nominations, and eventually took home five awards.

Scott returns to direct Gladiator 2, which releases in November this year, with Mescal playing the film’s lead Lucius, the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen).

He will star opposite Pedro Pascal, Denzel Washington, Connie Nielsen, Derek Jacobi and Joseph Quinn.

In an interview with The Sunday Times on 14 January, Mescal said he doesn’t know what “difference” an increased level of fame could mean, adding he would hope the reception to Scott’s magnum opus doesn’t alter his day-to-day.

The 27-year-old 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.”

Paul Mescal at the Oscars in 2023 (Getty Images)
Paul Mescal at the Oscars in 2023 (Getty Images)

Mescal added he would “just get too f***ing bored” living life hidden away in a VIP section, and that he doesn’t want to close himself off to “going out or meeting someone in a bar or getting drunk at a party”.

“That would turn me into a boring human,” the Normal People starsaid, “It would be dangerous to start wrapping yourself in cotton wool and not be out in the world, through fear.”

Mescal also told the newspaper that things are generally okay when he meets people who recognise him, but “if someone wants to be a d*** and say that they went on a date with me, it doesn’t reflect poorly on me, it reflects poorly on them”.

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,” Mescal reflected.

He rose to fame for playing complex student Connell opposite Daisy Edgar Jones’s Marianne in the hit BBC series Normal People, based on Sally Rooney’s eponymous novel.

Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar Jones in ‘Normal People’ (BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu)
Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar Jones in ‘Normal People’ (BBC/Element Pictures/Hulu)

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.

Additional reporting on wires.