Our Barry Keoghan Gladiator 2 Exclusive Confirmed By The Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed our exclusive report that Barry Keoghan is the villain of Gladiator 2.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Barry Keoghan

Yesterday, Giant Freakin Robot broke the news that Barry Keoghan would play the villainous Empter Geta in Gladiator 2. Today, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed our report that not only is Eternals star joining the long-in-development sequel, but he will be filling the shoes of Joaquin Phoenix as the film’s antagonist. Our trusted and proven sources were correct again, and we couldn’t be happier about the upcoming sequel.

Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe as Maximus, the disgraced Roman general forced to fight for his life in the Colosseum, was one of the biggest films of 2000. One of the rare blockbusters recognized by the Academy, Gladiator took home Best Picture in 2000 and earned its star an Oscar for Best Actor. For over 20 years, discussions about a sequel have been taking place, with the project almost coming to fruition multiple times before falling apart, but this time it’s finally happening.

Ridley Scott will be the director, while Paul Mescal, known for smaller indie films including Aftersun and The Lost Daughter, stars as Lucius, the nephew of Joaquin Phoenix‘s sadistic Emperor Commodus. In the first film, the character was played by Spencer Treat Clark, and unlike the two leads, he survived until the movie’s end. Set up during the film as a political hostage, Lucius was the heir to the throne and one of Maximus’ biggest supporters.

Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator

Now an adult for the sequel, it will be interesting to learn how the true Emperor of Rome finds himself in the gladiatorial arena. Will Connie Nielsen, recently seen in Nobody, return as his mother? Who else from the first film will be present for the sequel, even if it’s only in flashbacks?

Barry Keoghan, like his Gladiator 2 co-star Mescal, is also a recent Oscar nominee, earning a Best Supporting Actor nomination for The Banshees of Insiherin. Unlike his new co-star, Keoghan has had a few high-profile roles, notably in Eternals as the duplicitous Druig and a cameo in Matt Reeves’ The Batman as The Joker. He’s proven capable of playing villainous characters that view themselves as the hero, though none have been as creepy as Martin Lang, the disturbed man from The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

His co-starring role in the Colin Farrell thriller is the best evidence that Keoghan can match Joaquin Phoenix’s award-winning performance. In the 2017 film, Farrell plays a doctor who accidentally kills a patient on his operating table, resulting in Keoghan’s Martin forcing him to choose which family member will die to achieve justice. The underrated thriller proves that Ridley Scott did a fantastic job casting his latest villain.

A November 2024 release date was leaked a few months ago, giving fans plenty of time to catch up on Barry Keoghan’s filmography before deciding they hate his guts as the villain of Gladiator 2. With a release date so soon, expect more word to come out about further casting announcements, hopefully including Russell Crowe making a cameo appearance in a flashback.