Marc Maron celebrated July 4 this year by releasing a lengthy podcast interview with Nick Cave, in which Cave informed Maron that Russell Crowe asked him to write the sequel to Crowe’s Oscar-winning 2000 movie Gladiator. Cave complied, delivering what sounds like a phantasmagorical and cosmological battle spanning all of human history since the days of Christ.
Cave’s intended title for the project was Christ Killer. Sadly, Crowe didn’t go for it.
Here’s a transcript of the section where they talk about the Gladiator 2 project. If you want to listen to it, you can find it here; the Crowe bits start exactly at the one-hour mark.
Maron: Do you know Russell Crowe?
Cave: I do know Russell, yeah. I know Russell really well.
Maron: You do? How’d that come about?
Cave: He read the script of The Proposition, which is a film I wrote with John Hillcoat which is an Australian western which he championed and was almost in but that didn’t work out. That didn’t work out, but eventually he rang me up and asked if I wanted to write Gladiator 2….
Maron: Of course! If you want that movie, who are you going to go to? Nick Cave is the guy!
Cave: Which, for someone who had only written one film script, it was quite an ask.
Maron: Did you do it?
Cave: I did, yeah.
Maron: And what happened with that script?
Cave: It didn’t make it.
Maron: What was the story for the second Gladiator?
Cave: Well, that’s where it all went wrong. Very briefly, it was, I’m like, “Hey, Russell, didn’t you die in Gladiator 1?” He’s going, “Yeah, you sort that out.” So, he [Maximus] goes down to purgatory and is sent down by the gods, who are dying in heaven because there’s this one god, there’s this Christ character, down on Earth who is gaining popularity and so the many gods are dying so they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and all his followers. This was already getting… I wanted to call it Christ Killer, and in the end you find out that the main guy was his son, so he has to kill his son and he’s tricked by the gods and all of this sort of stuff. So it ends with, he becomes this eternal warrior and it ends with this 20-minute war scene which follows all the wars in history, right up to Vietnam and all that sort of stuff and it was wild.
Maron: That sounds amazing!
Cave: It was a stone-cold masterpiece.
Maron: How did Russell Crowe react to that?
Cave: I said, “What did you think?” “Don’t like it, mate.” “What about the end?” “Don’t like it, mate.”
Maron: That’s great! Do you like that script?
Cave: I enjoyed writing it very much. I enjoyed writing it because I knew on every level that it was never going to get made.
Maron: Christ Killer: The Second Gladiator!
Cave: Let’s call it a popcorn dropper.
If you’d like to read the script, here it is. Below, Nick Cave gets his gladiator on, in John Hillcoat’s outrageous video for Grinderman’s “Heathen Child.”