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Nick Cave Reveals Details About His 'Gladiator 2' Script 'Christ Killer' & You Can Read The Full Screenplay Right Here

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by Diana Drumm
July 12, 2013 11:41 AM
19 Comments
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Gladiator Nick Cave

Remember that time when Nick Cave was hired to write the script for "Gladiator 2"? Oh, you don't? Well, we reported on it back in 2009 and, thanks to Nick Cave's recent appearance (described as "tense" and "daunting") on the "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast, that piece of trivia is hitting the interwebs again.

For some context, Cave had only one script to his name (this was roughly a decade before "Lawless") when fellow Aussie and friend Russell Crowe approached the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds front man to pen the sequel to "Gladiator." As "out there" as that reads, it goes even farther when you consider that this proposed project would have been a sequel to a film in which the protagonist (Maximus/Russell Crowe) had already died and was on his way to Elysium. In the podcast with Marc Maron, Cave talked about the specifics on how he got involved in the Ridley Scott-helmed project and what that script was actually about.

Turns out all it took was a phone call. As Cave told Maron, Crowe "eventually, rang me up and asked if I wanted to write 'Gladiator 2' (laughs) and for someone who had only written one film script ["Ghosts... of the Civil Dead"], it was quite an ask." Naturally, Cave asked, "Hey Russell, didn't you die in 'Gladiator 1'?" To which Crowe replied with a simple, "Yeah, you sort that out." And Cave did, by making Maximus an immortal (resurrections included) and getting Jesus Christ involved. Say what?

That's right. In Nick Cave's hands, "Gladiator 2" would have involved the Christ man-god along with a bunch of Roman gods, all on the same theological footing. Yeesh, we're not going to touch that with a ten-foot Spear of Longinus. Cave explained that Maximus post-mortem, "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 his followers." Remember, this was meant to be a follow-up to mega-blockbuster "Gladiator," not some side experimental project.

As though that wouldn't be hard enough for a typical Hollywood producer to swallow, let alone people still riding on the "Gladiator" train, Cave's script also called for a plot twist of biblical/Greek tragedy proportions. It was to be revealed "that the main guy was his son so he has to kill his son and he was tricked by the gods. 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." To add the icing on this abstract multi-century "deities vs. deity vs. humankind" cake, Cave "wanted to call it 'Christ Killer.' "

According to Cave, Crowe reacted with a simple, "Don't like it, mate." Contrarily, Ridley Scott supposedly said that it was the producers, not Crowe, who nixed Cave's script. According to multiple sources (including the Guardian, NME and Clash), Scott told UGO.com (a now-defunct site) that, "We tried (to work with Cave's screenplay). Russell didn't want to let it go, obviously, because it worked very well. When I say 'worked very well', I don't refer to success. I mean, as a piece it works very well. (As a piece of) storytelling, (it) works brilliantly." Either way, you won't be seeing "Gladiator 2: Christ Killer" coming to a theater near you anytime soon, or ever.

The script itself leaked a few years ago, but we can't get our hands on it at the moment. Apparently, "it ended in the men's bathroom at the Pentagon." Yowza. Though Nick Cave confessed to Marc Maron that he knew this script was never going to get made (calling it "a popcorn dropper"), he maintained that, "It was a stone cold masterpiece," and we'd tend to believe him, offering an appendage or two (more finger/toe variety than full arm/leg) to see it made to full fruition. If you can find a live link to the script, pretty please with cherries on top send it along. Update: Thanks to some awesome readers, we've been pointed to the script which you can read below!


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19 Comments

  • Billy Wilde | September 1, 2014 8:14 AMReply

    I'm sure Crowe is a kiwi, not an aussie.

  • Anomonous | January 12, 2014 9:34 AMReply

    My script would stick with the original theme "Gladiator", more romance between the main characters and some romance between Gladiators and peasants,(Never once saw another Gladiator being kissed in the 1st Gladiator), or maybe a huge romantic plot with the main characters friend and, it would only go as far as being favored by the gods instead of this bull**** about him being immortal, otherwise Romans would most possible be in control still

  • Drexl | July 14, 2013 7:34 PMReply

    Call me crazy, but I would've watched this.

  • Bees | July 14, 2013 4:23 AMReply

    Hey, I just listened to the podcast, it was really great. Marc builds up a pretty lively and engaging rapport with the seemingly dark and cold Nick Cave. It was pretty fascinating and hilarious. And he was being facetious about the "stone cold masterpiece" business. It's not the arrogant remark the pull quote makes it out to be.

  • Spaydi | July 13, 2013 10:46 AMReply

    God Of War ?!?!?!?!? Buhahahaha :D

  • MGS | July 12, 2013 6:39 PMReply

    "so they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and his followers" - so it was the prequel to Prometheus...

  • Anomonous | January 12, 2014 9:17 AM

    I dont follow on the joke on how its the prequel to Prometheus?

  • Exile498 | July 12, 2013 12:33 PMReply

    Why can't they just go with the original Gladiator 2 script where Maximus becomes kind of an immortal war god and we see him travel through all the great wars in time. It'd be like the beginning of Wolverine Origins but WAY better.

  • Anomonous | January 12, 2014 9:19 AM

    would be better if he was like blessed by the gods, it was a big thing in them times and could be a cause of how he would have survived at the end

  • DArtagnan | July 13, 2013 12:29 AM

    This IS that script. What you described is the ending.

  • the mysterious script giver | July 12, 2013 12:25 PMReply

    http://scribd.com/doc/39980725/Gladiator-2-by-Nick-Cave

    You're welcome.

  • your friendly neighborhood script giver | July 12, 2013 1:22 PM

    my pleasure, love the site!

  • Diana Drumm | July 12, 2013 12:28 PM

    Thank you so much! Nearly jumped out of my chair.

  • Pat | July 12, 2013 12:09 PMReply

    Hmmm? Christ was killed during the reign of Tiberius. He was followed by Caligulia, Claudius, Nero, and quite a few more by the time we got to Commodius.

  • DArtagnan | July 13, 2013 12:27 AM

    I was thinking of that too.

    Maybe at some point in his eternal warrior career, he buys a Dolorean. :)

  • schizopolis | July 12, 2013 12:04 PMReply

    I saw Nick Cave live in Sydney during a panel interview after a screening of The Proposition. He kept saying how much easier screenwriting is than making music. Even if he's right, he was pretty smug and arrogant about it. I'm not a fan of his personality.

  • Schizopolis | July 12, 2013 12:54 PM

    Oh he was smug lol...I was there live for the whole interview. Just reading him say his script is "brilliant" and a "stone cold masterpiece" is fascinating. Hey, at least it's better than phony modesty. I enjoy Marc Maron's interviews...I'll probably listen to this one now.

  • Stephen B | July 12, 2013 12:36 PM

    Probably easier when it isn't your main source of income and can pick and choose your projects. But I'm not sure he necessarily meant that in a smug way; it is probably a bit of a relief for someone used to writing and recording for a year or two and then touring/promoting non-stop for a year or two to just sit at a computer all day, turn something in and get paid handsomely for it.

  • Matt Goldberg | July 12, 2013 12:02 PMReply

    If you can track it down, I highly recommend reading the script or at least an overview because it's actually quite thoughtful. You may be dismissive of the "ending in a men's bathroom in the Pentagon," but that's out of context. The idea of the scene is that the movie ends with Maximus constantly being reincarnated as an instrument of war, so the story ends with him at the sink, looking at his reflection (or perhaps it's a close-up on his face; I don't recall the specifics), and thus driving home the notion that the war never really ends. All that changes is the setting.

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