Gladiator 2: Why Did Spencer Treat Clark Get Replaced as Lucius?

By David Thompson Posted:
Paul Mescal as Lucius in Gladiator 2

Here's why Spencer Treat Clark was replaced as Lucius in Gladiator 2.

The first trailer for Gladiator II was released online, highlighting the upcoming cast of Paul Mescal as Lucius, Denzel Washington as Macrinus, Pedro Pascal as Marcus Acacius, and Joseph Quinn as Emperor Geta.

Taking place over 20 years after 2000's Gladiator, the sequel follows Lucius, the former heir to the Roman Empire, who becomes a gladiator after his home is invaded by the Roman army. This army is led by General Marcus Acacius during the reign of co-emperors Caracalla and Geta.

However, Lucius was originally played by Spencer Treat Clark in Gladiator, who briefly appeared in the new trailer but did not return for Gladiator 2.

Why Did Spencer Treat Clark Get Replaced as Lucius?

Paul Mescal and Spencer Treat Clark.

36-year-old actor Spencer Treat Clark, who portrayed Lucius in the original Gladiator, was replaced by 28-year-old Paul Mescal in Gladiator II.

Per Deadline, Ridley Scott revealed that he chose Paul Mescal to play Lucius in Gladiator II because he was seeking a younger actor for the role. 

The director explained that he wanted "something new and fresh" with the cast of Gladiator 2, leading him to Mescal:

"I’m always looking for someone, something new and fresh. I mean, fresh is terribly important. So they’re not carrying … baggage is a terrible word for what they’ve done before, because it’s great stuff, but you will remember he just did this character already.

Scott was impressed by Mescal's performance in Hulu's Normal People and decided to cast him as the 23-24-year-old Lucius needed for the sequel:

"I watched this show called 'Normal People.' It’s unusual for me, but I saw one and thought, that’s interesting. These actors are really good I watched the whole goddamn show and thought, damn. So this came up at a time when I need a 23 year old, 24 year old to take up the mantle of Lucius. And I just said, you want to do it? He said, yeah. He was about to do 'Streetcar Named Desire' in London."

Spencer Treat Clark in Gladiator 1.

In Gladiator, Lucius, the young son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and grandson of Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), was named after his father, Lucius Verus, a former co-emperor of Rome. Lucius idolized Maximus (Russell Crowe) for his victories in the arena.

During the film, he unknowingly influences events when Maximus refrains from attacking Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) upon seeing him in the Colosseum, leading to Commodus sparing Maximus's life.

While he isn't returning for Gladiator 2, Clark has been busy with a recurring role on the television series Animal Kingdom and as Mike Ryerson in the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's Salem's Lot.

[ Is Russell Crowe In Gladiator 2? Maximus' Potential Role In the Sequel, Explained ]

Lucius' Legacy in Gladiator 2

It's time for Paul Mescal to stake his claim as a bonafide movie star. In Gladiator II, Lucius emerges as a focal character influenced by Maximus' legacy. 

As the grown-up nephew of Commodus and grandson of Marcus Aurelius, Lucius is thrust into conflict when General Marcus Acacius invades Numidia, leading him to embrace the path of a gladiator to challenge the rule of Emperors Caracalla and Geta. 

His journey is expected to mirror Maximus' heroic defiance against tyranny, setting the stage for a dramatic continuation of familial and political intrigue from the original film.

Gladiator 2 opens in theaters on November 22.

- In This Article: Gladiator 2
Release Date
November 22, 2024
Denzel Washington
Paul Mescal
- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.