Exclusive: Barry Keoghan Cast In Gladiator 2 As Main Villain

We've learned Barry Keoghan has been cast as Emperor Geta in Gladiator 2, and that he will be the chief villain of the feature.

By Michileen Martin | Updated

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He got his first Academy Awards nomination this year, and now he’s joining a franchise known for attracting Oscars. Our trusted and proven sources tell us Barry Keoghan has joined the cast of Gladiator 2 as the long-awaited sequel’s chief villain. Specifically, Keoghan will play a fictional version of the real-life Roman Emperor Geta, aka Publius Septimius Geta, who ruled Rome from the years 209 to 211.

Barry Keoghan’s signing on to Gladiator 2 is only the second piece of casting news we’ve received about the sequel. Back in January, Deadline reported that another actor who received his first Oscar nomination this year, Aftersun‘s Paul Mescal, would be playing the sequel’s hero. He’ll play an older version of Lucius, who Spencer Treat Clark (Mystic River) played in the first film.

In 2000’s Gladiator, the young version of Lucius is essentially a hostage in all but name. As the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and grandson to Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), Lucius is next in line to Rome’s throne. The ambitious and unstable Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) sees the boy as a threat and uses his well-being to keep his sister Lucilla in line.

barry keoghan gladiator 2
Spencer Treat Clark (front) as Lucius and Connie Nielsen as Lucilla in Gladiator (2000)

Lucius comes to idolize Russell Crowe‘s Maximus and is the first to volunteer in helping the senator Gracchus (Derek Jacobi) carry his body away at the end of Gladiator. It remains to be seen exactly how the older Lucius will come to find himself in a similar position to that of the late Maximus, or how that puts him in conflict with Barry Keoghan’s Geta in Gladiator 2.

It’s honestly a little surprising that it’s taken until now for word to surface of any other casting in Ridley Scott’s sequel. Last month it was reported Gladiator 2 had a target release date of November 22, 2024. Arguably, the most unexpected part of our story is that by now we don’t have more casting news about the film.

That includes whether or not we can expect any actors from the first film to join Paul Mescal and Barry Keoghan in Gladiator 2. As the woman who played Lucius’ mother, Connie Nielsen would seem to have a natural spot in the sequel. Of course, Crowe’s hero dies at the end of the first film, but with the de-aging technology available to filmmakers, a flashback or some kind of beyond-the-veil vision of Maximus isn’t out of the question, not to mention the same could be said of Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus.

While a number of the original film’s stars are sadly no longer with us — most notably Richard Harris and Oliver Reed (who played Proximo, Maximus’ gladiator mentor) — both Derek Jacobi and Djimon Hounsou are thankfully still working, and their characters survive the epic. We don’t know if those specific characters would have any believable reason to join Lucius in his fight against Barry Keoghan’s Geta in Gladiator 2, but the coming months will tell us more. When we know, we’ll make sure you know.