Russell Crowe was somewhat reluctant to play Zeus in Thor: Love and Thunder because of his resemblance to Maximus from Gladiator.
Love and Thunder writer/director Taika Waititi revealed this in a conversation with Studio 10 also involving Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth.
In fact, it was Hemsworth who asked whether he encountered any resistance from Crowe when suggesting the character.
“A little bit,” Waititi replied, “’cause I think when you look at the script, it does sort of describe him feeling a little bit like Maximus, and obviously he doesn’t want to play Maximus again.”
Maximus Decimus Meridius, the titular Roman gladiator in Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning 2000 film, is unarguably Crowe’s most famous role. It’s not hard to see the similarities between Maximus and Zeus—all the way down to the body armor—but Crowe subverted expectations to make the character, essentially, anti-Maximus.
“He’s so cheeky [in his portrayal],” Waititi continued. “It’s Russell in a way I’ve never seen him before.”
“I thought the same thing,” Hemsworth added. “I thought it was gonna be a nod to Gladiator, and he just had fun with it and was self-deprecating and turned it on its head.” They then expressed their mutual appreciation for Crowe’s “tutu number down the stairs,” whatever that means, but we’re excited for it.
See if you’re not entertained when Russell appears in Thor: Love and Thunder, which will premiere across the world from July 6 to 8. See what day it premieres in your country here.