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Paul Mescal Fears Becoming Too Famous After ‘Gladiator 2’: ‘I’d Get Profoundly Depressed’

Paul Mescal Fears Becoming Too Famous for Starring in Gladiator 2
Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Paul Mescal is afraid of becoming too famous.

After starring in the independent drama After Sun, which earned him an Oscar nod for Best Actor in 2023, now he fears his fame could become out of control, especially with Gladiator 2 on his slate. He’s set to play the lead in the sequel to the classic 2000 film, which starred Russell Crowe.

“I don’t know what the difference will be,” Mescal told the British publication The Times in an interview published Monday, January 15. “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 [the film] 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.”

Crowe became one of the most popular actors in the world after starring in Gladiator, which grossed over $500 million. The film won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Crowe.

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With Ridley Scott returning as the director and Denzel Washington joining the cast, Gladiator 2 is one of the high profile films of the year, scheduled to premiere November 22.

During a time when many stars are cast based on their social media following, Mescal doesn’t have his own Instagram page and said he is not interested in Internet popularity.

Paul Mescal Fears Becoming Too Famous for Starring in Gladiator 2
Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

“It scares me greatly,” he commented. “Acting should never be reduced to numbers of Instagram followers.”

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Mescal began his career as a stage actor, starring in plays in Great Britain and Ireland. His fame began to rise with his starring role in the 2020 Hulu miniseries Normal People, which earned him a British Academy Television Award for Best Actor. Mescal was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. The next year, he starred in the coming of age drama After Sun, and he stayed busy in 2023 with the dramas Foe and All of Us Strangers.

In Gladiator 2, Mescal will portray Lucius Verus, the nephew of Roman Emperor Commodus. In the original film, Lucius idolized Crowe’s character, Maximus, who died after slaying the Emperor in the Roman Coliseum.

Since Crowe’s character died in the original movie, he is not involved in the sequel. Yet, he is constantly asked questions about Gladiator 2.

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Now more than two decades after Gladiator became one of the biggest films of the 2000s, Crowe, 59, told Variety in an interview published in July 2023 that he is envious of the attention the stars of the sequel are receiving.

“I do admit to a certain tinge of jealousy,” he said, “because it reminds me of when I was younger and what it meant for me, in my life.”

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