A man robbed of his name and his dignity strives to win them back, and gain the freedom of his people, in this epic historical drama from director Ridley Scott. In the year 180, the death of emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) throws the Roman Empire into chaos. Maximus (Russell Crowe) is one of the Roman army's most capable and trusted generals and a key advisor to the emperor. As Marcus' devious son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) ascends to the throne, Maximus is set to be executed. He escapes, but is captured by slave traders. Renamed Spaniard and forced to become a gladiator, Maximus must battle to the death with other men for the amusement of paying audiences. His battle skills serve him well, and he becomes one of the most famous and admired men to fight in the Colosseum. Determined to avenge himself against the man who took away his freedom and laid waste to his family, Maximus believes that he can use his fame and skill in the ring to avenge the loss of his family and former glory. As the gladiator begins to challenge his rule, Commodus decides to put his own fighting mettle to the test by squaring off with Maximus in a battle to the death. Gladiator also features Derek Jacobi, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou, and Oliver Reed, who died of a heart attack midway through production.
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Connie NielsenActorDanish beauty Connie Nielsen consistently lights up the screen with an eclectic bevy of film roles. She was born in Frederikshavn, Denmark, to a mother who worked as an insurance clerk, and a father, Bent Nielsen, who was a bus driver. Nielsen began her acting career working alongside her mother on the local revue and variety scene. At 18, she headed to Paris to continue her pursuit of acting, which led her to further work and study in Rome and Milan. In addition to being an accomplished actress, Nielsen is also a trained singer, dancer and is fluent in English, German, Danish, Swedish, French and Italian. She resides in New York. However, it was Nielsen's portrayal of "Princess Lucilla", opposite Russell Crowe's Maximus in Ridley Scott's Academy Award-winning Gladiator (2000), which first garnered a mass appeal. She won Best Actress Awards from the Danish Academy Awards and from the San Sebastian Film Festival for her role in the Danish drama Brothers (2004) (aka Brothers), which was released by Focus Features and IFC Films. She then appeared in the World War II epic The Great Raid (2005) opposite Benjamin Bratt, Joseph Fiennes and James Franco for director John Dahl and produced by Miramax; the dramatic thriller Return to Sender (2004) directed by Bille August, which premiered at The Toronto Film Festival in 2004; and the black comedy The Ice Harvest (2005) with John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton and Randy Quaid, directed by Harold Ramis for Focus Features. In 2003, Nielsen starred as an industrial spy in a corporate war in the critically acclaimed suspense thriller Demonlover (2002), directed by Olivier Assayas and co-starring Chloë Sevigny and Gina Gershon. Her other lead roles range from The Hunted (2003) by director William Friedkin (with Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro; to Basic (2003) by director John McTiernan (opposite John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson); to One Hour Photo (2002) where she starred opposite Robin Williams; to Mission to Mars (2000) opposite Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins and Don Cheadle; to The Devil's Advocate (1997) starring Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. Additionally, Nielsen has received a Best Actress Award from the Empire Awards for her role in Gladiator (2000), and has given unforgettable performances as a German heroin junkie in Permanent Midnight (1998) opposite Ben Stiller and as an unmatronly Texas mother in Rushmore (1998) opposite Bill Murray. Other film credits include Innocents (2000) (aka The Innocents) opposite Jean-Hugues Anglade, Voyage (1993) with Rutger Hauer and Eric Roberts.More
Joaquin PhoenixActorJoaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Arlyn (Dunetz) and John Bottom, and is the middle child in a brood of five. His parents, from the continental United States, were then serving as Children of God missionaries. His mother is from a Jewish family from New York, while his father, from California, is of mostly British Isles descent. As a youngster, Joaquin took his cues from older siblings River Phoenix and Rain Phoenix, changing his name to Leaf to match their earthier monikers. When the children were encouraged to develop their creative instincts, he followed their lead into acting. Younger sisters Liberty Phoenix and Summer Phoenix rounded out the talented troupe. The family moved often, traveling through Central and South America (and adopting the surname "Phoenix" to celebrate their new beginnings) but, by the time Joaquin was age 6, they had more or less settled in the Los Angeles area. Arlyn found work as a secretary at NBC, and John turned his talents to landscaping. They eventually found an agent who was willing to represent all five children, and the younger generation dove into television work. Commercials for meat, milk, and junk food were off-limits (the kids were all raised as strict vegans), but they managed to find plenty of work pushing other, less sinister products. Joaquin's first real acting gig was a guest appearance on River's sitcom, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982). He worked with his brother again on the afterschool special Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia (1984), then struck out on his own in other made-for-TV productions. He made his big-screen debut as the youngest crew member in the interstellar romp SpaceCamp (1986), then won his first starring turn in the Cold War-era drama Russkies (1987). In the late '80s, the Phoenix clan decided to pull up stakes and relocate again--this time to Florida. River's film career had enough momentum to sustain the move, but Joaquin wasn't sure what lay in store for him in the Sunshine State. As it happened, Universal Pictures had just opened a new studio in the area and he was cast almost immediately as an angst-ridden adolescent in Parenthood (1989). His performance was very well-received, but Joaquin decided to withdraw from acting for a while--he was frustrated with the dearth of interesting roles for actors his age, and he wanted to see more of the world. His parents were in the process of separating, so he struck out for Mexico with his father. Joaquin returned to the public eye three years later under tragic circumstances. On October 31, 1993, he was at The Viper Room (a Los Angeles nightclub partly-owned by Johnny Depp) when his brother River collapsed from a drug overdose and later died. Joaquin made the call to 911, which was rebroadcast on radio and television the world over. Months later, at the insistence of friends and colleagues, Joaquin began reading through scripts again, but he was reluctant to re-enter the acting life until he found just the right part. He finally signed up to work with Gus Van Sant (who had directed River in My Own Private Idaho (1991) and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993)) to star as Nicole Kidman's obsessive devotee in To Die For (1995). The performance made Joaquin (who had dropped Leaf and reverted to his birth name) a critics' darling in his own right. His follow-up turn in Inventing the Abbotts (1997) scored more critical kudos and, perhaps more importantly, introduced him to his one-time fiancée Liv Tyler. (The pair dated for almost three years.) He returned to the big screen later that year with a supporting role in Oliver Stone's U Turn (1997), then played a locked-up drug scapegoat in Return to Paradise (1998). He and "Paradise" co-star Vince Vaughn re-teamed almost immediately for the small-town murder caper Clay Pigeons (1998), which Joaquin followed with a turn as a porn store clerk in 8MM (1999). The film that confirmed Phoenix as a star was the historical epic Gladiator (2000). The Roman epic cast him as the selfish, paranoid young emperor Commodus opposite Russell Crowe's swarthy hero. Determined to make his character as real as possible, Phoenix gained weight and cultivated a pasty complexion during the shoot. He received international attention and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for that role. Later that year, he appeared in two indies, playing a dock worker in The Yards (2000) (which he counts among his favorite experiences--and one of the only films of his that he can sit through) and the priest in charge of the Marquis de Sade's asylum in Quills (2000). He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor as the legendary musician Johnny Cash in the biography Walk the Line (2005). He also recorded an album, the film's soundtrack, for which he received the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.More
Russell CroweActorRussell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham), English, Irish, Scottish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Maori (one of Crowe's maternal great-grandmothers, Erana Putiputi Hayes Heihi, was Maori). Crowe's family moved to Australia when he was a small child, settling in Sydney, and Russell got the acting bug early in life. Beginning as a child star on a local Australian TV show, Russell's first big break came with two films ... the first, Romper Stomper (1992), gained him a name throughout the film community in Australia and the neighboring countries. The second, The Sum of Us (1994), helped put him on the American map, so to speak. Sharon Stone heard of him from Romper Stomper (1992) and wanted him for her film, The Quick and the Dead (1995). But filming on The Sum of Us (1994) had already begun. Sharon is reported to have held up shooting until she had her gunslinger-Crowe, for her film. With The Quick and the Dead (1995) under his belt as his first American film, the second was offered to him soon after. Virtuosity (1995), starring Denzel Washington, put Russell in the body of a Virtual Serial Killer, Sid6.7 ... a role unlike any he had played so far. Virtuosity (1995), a Sci-Fi extravaganza, was a fun film and, again, opened the door to even more American offers. L.A. Confidential (1997), Russell's third American film, brought him the US fame and attention that his fans have felt he deserved all along. Missing the Oscar nod this time around, he didn't seem deterred and signed to do his first film with The Walt Disney Company, Mystery, Alaska (1999). He achieved even more success and awards for his performances in Gladiator (2000), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, and A Beautiful Mind (2001).More
Spencer Treat ClarkActorSpencer Treat Clark is from the New York City suburbs. He began acting at an early age, appearing in films like Gladiator and Unbreakable. He attended Columbia University in New York City where he studied political science and economics. His older sister, Eliza Clark, is a playwright and screenwriter. Spencer lives in Los Angeles. He recently appeared in the series finale of Mad Men, as a recurring character in Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, and as a recurring character in the new TNT series Animal Kingdom.More
Cast & Crew photos provided by TMDb.